There’re two types of people: the ones on the lookout for what’s new and what’s next, and the ones — turning their head back to preserve the tradition; taking a stance as the keepers of our cultural memory. Andrew Livingston has always been of the latter kind. In 2012, along with two friends he bought an old clothing factory in Ridgewood, Queens with the words “Knickerbocker MFG. C” vaguely painted in white on the door. Andrew prefers to put little accent on the money: “The owner passed the torch to us — now it’s our turn to carry it and share what we make with the community”. Andrew only wanted to help young designers produce their garments at his clothing factory, but Knickerbocker grew so much it’s become a lifestyle brand making high-quality menswear and hats inspired by 1900s.
The brand labelCuriously, Knickerbocker is using half of the original factory while the other half of the space is shared between local makers and fashion designers. As I was walking through the small workshop areas, peaking through the sewing machines and shelves of yarn, the feeling of community was indeed prevalent.
Most of the pieces are hand-crafted and hand-sown with the help of the vintage machinery along the wayAlong with the classic hats, shirts and pants, Knickerbocker started offering custom uniforms (you may have seen one worn by the Katz’s Delicatessen staff) and an array of shirts with custom artwork, all masterfully executed in a centuries-old embroidery technique.
Above all, a trip to Knickerbocker factory is close to entering a movie set, except there’re no cameras and green screens; and the tiny charming details, piled up shelves and humming machines are simply part of the everyday.