Lawyers become designers, rugs become shoes
Two Atlanta lawyers who were often unimpressed by their colleagues’ dress decided to make a change. Odini Nwakuche and Josh Moore broke out as designers, first for ties and then for shoes, bags and more. Now their company Res Ipsa is hugely successful and provides men and women with unique products. In a recent interview**, we spoke with them about their start, what’s next and an easy way for men to dress better.
TJB: Tell me again, how did you guys get started in the fashion industry?
Moore: “We’re both lawyers, and the company started with a conversation about how bad lawyers dress and how hard it was to find a 3 inch tie. Most ties were either too wide or too narrow and so we like to say that we wanted to find something between hipster and ‘get off my lawn.’ We wanted something that was slender but still serious and we thought that 3 inches was the perfect width. We spent about a year sourcing fabrics and finding a manufacturer and putting a tie program together and during that process we went to Istanbul thinking we would find some interesting fabrics that we could bring back and make part of our collection. It was just kind of by chance that we walked into a store that sold Kilim products for tourists and the gentleman who was working there came up to us and asked us where we were from and we told him we were from Atlanta and he got really excited. And he showed us his Georgia license and his Kennesaw State student ID. He had lived in Atlanta for 5 years and we kind of bonded instantly. So we asked him what else they make. We were thinking about what we would want and use ourselves that were Kilim products and we had always loved that classic British dress slipper shape, so we though that shoes would be good, we wanted to do a dopp kit and a weekend bag. We described what we thought would be the perfect versions of those and kind of pivoted in a direction beyond ties.”
TJB: Do you have any tips for other gentlemen, how they can dress better?
Nwakuche: “Lawyers tend to dress safe, and everyone wants to dress in a way that they think is very traditional and so they end up wearing clothes that are two sizes too big. So I think the first thing that we think about is the size. Try to find your fit, don’t be afraid to wear your size. Then try to find a way to express yourself. And I think you can see that in our shoes and designs – just don’t be afraid to try new things.
TJB: What is one thing you can’t leave the house without?
Moore: “A good blazer is appropriate over a pair of jeans, over wool trousers. With a nice blazer you can go anywhere. When you travel, throw on a blazer instead of the practically bedroom clothes most people travel in and it’s amazing how people treat you differently and the respect people treat you with. Just for being a little bit more dressed up than the crowd. But at whatever price point you are, wear clothes that fit you. Most guys wear jackets that hang off your shoulder and pants that need hemmed and sleeves that are too long, and if you would just tend to those little details, and whatever the best you can afford is, you’ll look fantastic.”
TJB: Your brand is travel. Will you guys be looking for new fabrics on your next adventure, or will the Turkish Kilim stay the highlight of your collection for now?
Nwakuche: We’re open and I think part of the way we’ve evolved is being open to seeing new things, and if it happens it happens. We’re open to South America, we’re open to India, we’re not going to force it. We use a lot of fabrics, like Harris tweeds from Scotland and other tweeds from England, so if we like it and it works, if it translates well, then we’ll try to make something out of it.
TJB: Is there anything new that you guys are excited about?
Nwakuche: “Our backpacks. We are very excited about our backpacks.”
Moore: “And a sneaker”
**Mildly edited for clarity and conciseness