Blair and Andrew
Ricky Hendry of ISAORA

Before athleisure became a fashion buzzword and workout clothes were acceptable outside the gym, Ricky Hendry and Marc Daniels were ahead of the game with their menswear brand ISAORA. This New York-based design duo has been crafting minimalist performance wear for urbanites since the labelís inception in 2009. Fusing technology, modern silhouettes, and a pared-down color palette, ISAORA offers a slick new take on city dressingóone thatís comfy and cool over everything else. We caught up with Henry one morning near his home in Williamsburg to talk about his fashion career, hoodies, and the benefits of designing clothes for himself.

HOW DID YOU FIRST GET STARTED IN FASHION?
I studied fashion back in the U.K., and from there, I got a scholarship to go to Milan. I started working with Neil Barrett when he was starting his brand at the end of the Ď90s. I was with Neil Barrett for a few years, and then moved to New York to work for Calvin Klein Collection. After Calvin, I worked at Club Monaco for a stint prior to becoming the head of menswear at Theory.
WHAT PROMPTED THE DECISION TO LAUNCH YOUR OWN BRAND?
I actually had a chance meeting with my business partner; Marc and I were introduced to each other by a mutual friend. We bounced some ideas around and that was the start of what was to become ISAORA. You know, five years later, weíre still going!
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE ISAORA AESTHETIC?
Marc and I both worked in the industry for quite some time. We felt that if we were ever going to do something it had to have a distinct point of view and a purpose. We did not want to just put something on a rack. The market is so saturated and there are so many brands. We felt there was an opportunity to take the functional benefits of performance apparel into a more progressive aesthetic. Take it out of the mountains and into the city, so to speak. At the time we launched, the industry was focused on retro workwear and there was a heritage vibe going on. We wanted to do something a bit more forward.
WHO IS THE ISAORA GUY?
We design clothes for ourselves. We use our friends as ambassadors because we feel they represent what we do and who we want our customer to be. At the same time, we feel like we design for an active, urban, design-conscious male, who cares about the way he looks and the way he performs.
WHAT ARE SOME PIECES EVERY GUY SHOULD HAVE IN HIS CLOSET?
Our signature three-layer performance shell really resonates with our customers; so do the insulated shirts and sweatpants. These pieces are sort of the perfect alignment between brand and product.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I think what we do is informed by the culture around us. This information is then filtered through our brand lens. We have a set of brand values we try to express through the products, and each season we keep coming back to these values.
WHATíS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOUíVE ENCOUNTERED SINCE YOU STARTED?
I think one of the biggest decisions we made was pulling out of wholesale and going direct to consumer. We had a good business working with 150 stores around the world. But we decided to pull out of all that business in response to the challenges of the wholesale environment. We wanted to build our business from the ground up. We want to design for the customer, not the buyer.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUíRE NOT WORKING?
I have a two-year-old daughter who takes up most of my time! Between that and a new house that Iím renovating in Bed-Stuy, I keep pretty busy.
WHERE DO YOU SEE ISAORA GOING IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS?
Weíre relatively unknown still, so I think we could work to raise awareness and get a wider audience. We launched an activewear collection last spring, which was successful for us. Weíll be doing more of that, and also building out categories like accessories.
WHAT ABOUT MAKING CLOTHES FOR WOMEN?
Itís just a matter of time and resources. We want to do what we do really well, and as soon as the time is right there will be womenís. Women can wear the guyís stuff, too, though!
WHAT'S A TYPICAL DAY LIKE FOR YOU?
Iím usually woken up early by a two-year-old. Gym or yoga if I have time. Then I go to the office and juggle working on whatever season weíre on with business meetings, fittings, dealing with production issues, marketing meetings, and vendor appointments. Thereís always at least one unexpected thing demanding urgent attention! If Iím lucky, Iím home in time to chill with my family.
WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE YOU'VE EVER RECIVED?
My mother told me when I was quite young to never join the army and to avoid organized religion. Iím not sure that qualifies as good advice, but Iím sure it was well-intentioned and it has stuck with me.
WHO IS YOUR INDUSTRY MENTOR?
We were part of the CFDA Incubator between 2012-2014 and were fortunate enough to have access to a fantastic network of industry mentors. I stay in touch in with many of them and itís good to know I can always drop them a line or give them a call if I ever need advice.
WHERE'S YOUR GO-TO VACATION SPOT?
Tulum, Mexico.
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New York | Los Angeles