The big and tall menswear market has always been an underdeveloped region within the retail market world. Particularly when it comes to the luxury market. When I discovered Gray Finn, a luxury brand that was released just last year – catering to plus size men, I was immediately drawn in and wanted to know more about it. I connected with Jose Solis, the founder of Gray Finn to learn more about the brand.
TPG: Where did the history/inspiration for the Gray Finn brand come from?
JS: The brand history/inspiration really came from me being a large guy that couldn’t find clothes that were modern, fit right, and were made using luxurious fabrics and quality. I’ve been very fortunate to have worked in NYC for close to 30 years designing for some amazing brands such as Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Vera Wang, etc. I realized that my entire career I spent designing to make others happy about how they look and feel, yet nothing existed out there that made me feel the same way. That was the moment I decided I was going to do something about it, and the concept of Gray Finn was born.
TPG: I would love to get to know more about the design process, fabric sourcing and where/why you chose to manufacture your garments.
JS: The design process starts with creating a mood board (inspiration board) for the season that gives a feel for color, fabrics, and silhouettes. This keeps me focused, and helps to make sure the brand direction stays on track. By the time I create the mood board, I would have already gone to the largest international fabric show in Paris known as Premiere Vision. This is where all the fabric mills from all over the world come to show their new fabric collections. It takes about three days just to visit the mills I’ve made appointments with. It’s impossible to see all the mills because there are too many to see at the show. All of Gray Finn’s fabrics come from the top mills in Italy that many of the very high end global designer brands use as well. Once all of the fabric headers (fabric samples about 12X12″) I selected at PV arrive at my office, I have to edit them down to the few that I will actually place fabric orders on.Once fabrics are narrowed down, I design into each fabric based on what the voids in the market are, and knowing that specific fabric will work well with that design. Sometimes I will source a specific fabric based on a specific category (ex. a chino pant) I want to design into. The factory I work with produces for other luxury brands, and is in NYC so I can keep a close eye on the development of each style from beginning to end. We have multiple fittings with each style to make sure the fit is perfect.
TPG: Are there any fun facts about the Gray Finn brand that our readers may not already know?
JS: An interesting fact about the brand is the origin of the name. Originally the name was made by combining the names of two friends of mine. However, it also reminded me of a shark fin. Although most people are afraid of sharks when swimming in the ocean (myself included), we still go in the ocean anyway. It serves as a reminder to me to always conquer the fear of the unknown. Launching Gray Finn was a scary step for me to take because of the unknown, however, I believed in it so much that I chose to conquer my fear.
TPG: What we can expect from the brand in the near future?
JS: The future of Gray Finn is to create a luxury lifestyle brand that is aspirational and inspires big men. A brand they can depend on to address the voids in their wardrobe, and continue to create quality luxury product that fits great.
Gray Finn is currently exclusively available online at www.grayfinn.com