Ones to watch: adriaen black

by Brian Lipton

Adriaen BlackIf you’ve ever wondered why so many well-known athletes, from Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts, look so great off the field, the answer can often be summed up in two words: Andrew Jang.

Since 2016, this self-taught, Iowa-born designer – who originally re-worked thrift-store-bought clothing – has worked with literally hundreds of athletes (primarily in the worlds of football and basketball) on creating custom-made clothes that incorporate their own distinct ideas about style with expert tailoring. Above all, Jang’s total commitment to the importance of fit can be seen in each and every piece he designs.

“I personally measure every athlete I work with, which is one reason I think my business has had such good word of mouth,” he notes. “I often started out working with just one player, and now I dress the entire team, even its coaches.”

Now, Jang has taken the next step and created a curated men’s ready-to-wear collection under the moniker Adriaen Black. (He didn’t want to use his own name and just liked this combination.) It includes more than 20 cutting-edge outerwear jackets, sweaters and t-shirts, which will originally be sold online with probable retail distribution in the fall. (Prices will range from $100 to nearly $3,000.)

Made in the company’s Manhattan headquarters, with materials sourced from Los Angeles, New York, Italy and Japan, the collection stands out from the pack for its intricate design detail and made-to-measure silhouettes, many of which are derived from his work with athletic superstars.

In addition, Jang is particularly fond of using different fabrics in the same piece, such as interplaying neoprene and lambskin in to-die-for jackets. “I think my favorite thing to do is to mix textures, blend fabrics and play with patterns,” he says. “Even as a kid, I enjoyed trying to figure out which tie went with which shirt.”

While Jang does plan to add to the ready-to-wear collection each season, his focus will remain on his work with athletes. In fact, he’s hoping to be able to design entire labels under the name of some of his more famous clients. “It’s a no-brainer,” he says. “We would be using many of our existing designs and resources, and with their names attached, it would be much easier and quicker to come to market than without their notoriety.”