To showcase his spring collection in Brooklyn, designer Connor McKnight created a paper set inspired by the 1920 Washington, D.C.-based ex-jazz Club Bohemian Caverns Trumpet “It was inspired by the idea of how people used to relax and have fun,” McKnight said of the nostalgic streamers and confetti floor. Cheesy suits tied to the clothes he displayed. “I really want to play the series and have fun,” he added.
McKnight’s new collection continues his focus on casual wear, and ideas of black mundane — for example, what it means to “be a bit of a mediocre black” — but he also intends to His more down-to-earth work adds some playfulness. To do so, he found inspiration in 1940’s grandfather’s yearbook. “He’s the only black man in the picture, but he’s very involved on campus and outdoors,” explained McKnight, who also looked at pictures of his grandfather, who was on the other side of the Boy Scouts and Fisherman. “I draw a lot of parallels between their experiences and what I love to do,” McKnight said. As a result, he got a more gorpy aesthetic, but wanted to modernize the outdoor staple.
For example, his chore jacket has oversized side and back pockets for “storage while hunting”; the stylish zippered leather biker jacket features the same large pockets. Meanwhile, he designed fishing jackets made of recycled nylon with nice pleats on the back, plenty of inside and outside pockets, and a practical concealed hood. “It’s based on a fly fishing jacket that stops when wading.”
Some of McKnight’s bestsellers are back, including recycled nylon down vests, pleated dresses, and fleece covers. He experimented with new fabrics, such as brown mesh for a long-sleeved shirt and matching shorts. “I got the idea from seeing an old-fashioned beekeeper’s costume,” he said. “I love the fabric, how silky and technical it feels.” His pleated silk buttons and dresses are easy to wear on hot, humid days—without worrying about wrinkling.
McKnight also has more understated womenswear for spring, including a simple silk gown with a low scoop of black, and a beach chair-inspired black woven dress. Instead of yelling at you, they whisper a quiet grace. He also introduced bags: a plain black leather tote, and a fully pleated “bongo” backpack. McKnight is only a few seasons old, and his retailer list now includes Ssense and Mr. Porter. He said he plans to continue expanding, but at his own pace, as he doesn’t want to lose the intimacy of the design process. “I’m really trying to go up a notch in terms of quality and attention to detail,” he said. “Internal growth is a top priority for me. I will always be a hands-on person, but would love to have more help.”