Daniel Spelman and his partner, James Zimmerman, were tired of the limited looks Hamptons guys could wear to a party on the weekend, so they took matters into their own hands. Enter Bonvivants, a new collection that has already been embraced by the best-dressed gents on the East End. Zimmerman explains the phenomenon!
James, what’s your backstory?
I was a model for a few years, and then I decided to start my own blog, James New York, because I wanted to creative-direct my own shoots. I started working with fashion photographers and reaching out to brands. I have an Instagram following, so a lot of brands were willing to work with me. It was a great creative outlet.
What does the blog cover?
I covered fashion shows, arts events, theater, dining—all of the things that make New York City great.
Why did you find the need to create Bonvivants?
We really made the clothes for ourselves. It started by going to parties in the Hamptons, and wishing we had better options. Dan and I both grew up wearing very preppy clothing. We thought we should update the look a little bit for 2018. A lot of the traditional stuff that’s out there was on the baggier side. We took what we liked to give it a fresh, fashion-forward twist. The fit is tailored, but not too tight, with interesting details. A lot of the shirts feature emojis, which are needlepoint.
Make us one of your polo shirts with the monkey emoji!
I like that! [laughs] People are always giving us ideas.
What’s your best-selling emoji polo?
The champagne bottle. People love it—especially in the Hamptons.
How did the Hamptons influence the brand?
This area is the spiritual home for the brand. We’re really inspired by our experiences out here. Dan has been going to the Hamptons since he was a kid, so the brand has a lot of nostalgia.
Are the clothes designed exclusively for men?
The line is general-neutral, but we approach design from a men’s perspective. But we do have female clients who buy the ready-to-wear, and our accessories are for everyone!
“Bon vivant” is the French term for someone who is living the good life. What inspired you to name your collection after this phrase?
Dan’s mom is a French teacher!
What’s the line’s distribution?
We sell at Blue One in Bridgehampton and Skinny Dip in Nantucket. We are also talking to stores in Palm Beach, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles, and of course, you can shop on our website [bonvivantsny.com].
What’s the story behind the woman featured in your lookbook?
She’s fabulous! Her name is Debra Rapoport, and she appeared in Advanced Style, a documentary about stylish senior citizens. We reached out to her via Instagram and told her we needed to shoot with her. Our concept for the lookbook was to capture family times in the Hamptons, and she represents this fairy godmother, grandmotherly figure. We paired her with [blogger] Igee Okafor, and we shot them playing tennis with fruit, having a tea party at the pool, and taking selfies in a sports car.
What’s your dream for the brand?
We’re doing very well in these small boutiques so that’s the strategy at this point. We have big dreams to have our own little store in the Hamptons someday.
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