Matt Singer.

I actually sit on that old step stool, there used to be this amazing older guy who sold antiques from the back of his truck in soho, I’d see him a bunch and sometimes we’d chat about whatever was going on, his prices were outrageous, on more than one occasion I’d walk past while he was having some heated exchange with someone about what he was selling and why is was worth what he was asking, he was kind of abusive to customers if they questioned the authenticity or price of a piece, one day he just gave me that step stool and said he was giving up the truck, the stool has a slate top which isn’t comfortable to sit on (at all), but I like that it was a gift from the kooky antiques dealer.

On the desk there’s a photograph of mushrooms that my friend Jason Fulford just sent, he has a new book and exhibit of photographs called the mushroom collection. There’s a book by the artist Jason Polan. I was leafing through, some eyeglass samples of different frames I’m working on, a few button down shirts from my line, a collection of letterpress hangtags I had made for my bags (they feature dogs from the Soviet space program), on the ground is one of my bags, olive canvas tote, filled with my running gear, and a few clementines, and a book I need wrap as a gift for a friend.”

For nine years Matt Singer worked at Jack Spade creating a wide range of items—bags and accessories, books and stationery, flyswatters and ping-pong paddle covers. He left in 2009 and began his own line, a small collection of everyday items for men & women.His line consists of four bag shapes, two shirt styles and an assortment of accessories (belts, bookmarks, coasters, ashtrays, stationery, lighter covers, keyfobs, a pencil case, and a travel-sized backgammon set). The button-down shirts and sturdy canvas bags draw inspiration from materials that improve with age—two-ply cotton oxford shirting and heavy cotton canvas. These straightforward shapes employ superior natural materials and thoughtful construction.

I respond to the art, craft and tradition involved in making everyday things and I enjoy storytelling with the products I design.

FROM YOUR DESKS: What kind of coffee is in your mug?

MATT SINGER: It’s a blend from Sylvester and Co, a nice general store out in Amagansett. Friends and I discovered their coffee walking around early one morning last Summer. Those very thoughtful friends recently sent me a few pounds of coffee beans to enjoy over the Winter.

FYD: Was it a leap of faith to start your own label?  

MS: Starting the label was intense… creatively, financially, emotionally, etc, but the transition was more a leap to faith, in that I firmly believed that the bags, apparel and accessories I was designing made sense and provided an alternative to what was in the market. I respond to the art, craft and tradition involved in making everyday things and I enjoy storytelling with the products I design. I take that thinking and apply it to a button down shirt or canvas bag or decoupage ashtray, that’s what makes my brand different and why I hope the products resonate with people.

Choosing what to make for the initial launch came quite easily, it probably sounds like a disparate collection of products but they are all everyday items I hope are just a little bit better than what’s currently available. Sturdy canvas bags, oxford-cloth shirts, woven pencil cases, eyeglasses, lighter covers. My goal is to make things that might become somebody’s favorite, whether it’s a shirt or a belt or a woven bookmark. I share as much as I can about the materials I use, where I produce the item, and hope that combined with my personality and design produces something that is a bit special. I like working on the details, the type of zipper and letter press hangtags but the product needs to serve a function, to have some utility or none of the other stuff matters, it’s that intersection of purpose and style that propels me.

FYD: Your selection of Omegas are fantastic. Did you grow up with one?

MS: My dad got me into old watches, he gave me a beautiful old Omega when I was in college, that started my fascination. Now I am able to sell vintage watches through my website. I have a watch guy who cleans and services the watches and gets them into perfect working order (all watches come with a full one-year warranty for parts and labor). The hardest part is offering some for sale, I just got an 1950s Omega whose face has this amazing orange hue and a black dial military Bulova with the perfect olive green band, not sure if I can part with either.

I share as much as I can about the materials I use, where I produce the item, and hope that combined with my personality and design produces something that is a bit special.

FYD: What is the look of your button down shirts?

MS: The long sleeve button-down shirts feature a curved hem along with some quiet detailing (seamless yoke, locker loop, bevel cream buttons, etc). I have new plaids and stripes that just came in and am working on some new patterns for Spring.

FYD: Will we see you open a boutique in NYC 2011? West Village?  I’ll be an investor...

MS: I’d love to open a little shop in NYC, 300 square feet, that would be perfect. I really hope to open a shop in the coming year.

FYD: For last-minute shoppers, are you able to pass along your winter essentials and a few gift ideas?

MS: I’m on press this week with a 25” x 19” silk screened print with a 2011 calendar along the bottom that I hope will be a fun gift idea. The artwork for the poster was created by the amazing artist, Paulina Reyes.

I just finished reading Tinkers by Paul Harding and will be giving a copy to my Dad. There is also a great cd called Colour Yes by Mathew Halsall that I hope my Dad likes. There are beautiful oversized wooden puzzles at Doodle Doos in the West Village, I got one called Safari Social for my god-son, Jago.

FYD: Can we expect a third collaborative with Selima?

MS: Definitely, as soon as we can find the time, Project Selima & Matt is a very rewarding project that allows us the opportunity to assist select art organizations and nonprofits. Our first two projects with the The Thing Quarterly, and 826nyc/Superhero Supply Store were a lot of fun.

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