Fashion and adventure are seldom intertwined, but for American designer Robert Comstock, his passion of exploration is the heart of his signature menswear line, self-titled Robert Comstock.
From canoeing down the Amazon to horseback-riding in Mongolia, the wonders of the world lend him inspiration to create quality, "functionably fashionable" pieces that any man can wear for seemingly effortless style, especially in his newest, more affordable line, Vertical. Comstock himself will be presenting the new Vertical line at Dillard's in Scottsdale Fashion Square this Saturday at 8:30 a.m.
Follows is a recent Q&A with Comstock.
Q: Why fashion?
A: Designing for me is a creative outlet, inspired both by my love for adventure travel and by the artistry of the skilled technicians creating the uniquely finished leather and fabrics that appear in my collections. It is a means of sharing with others the personal experiences that enrich my life and influence my perspective.
Q: It's safe to say you've seen and done a lot. What would you say is your most remarkable adventure?
A: That's a difficult question. I have many favorites; but one of my most impressionable experiences was a 1,500-mile race at 13,000 feet through the highlands of Papua New Guinea. I was fortunate to represent America's team in the Camel Trophy, a rally sponsored by Range Rover. As an international field of drivers in the early '80s we met Stone Age tribes of aborigines, who'd never before seen Anglo-Saxons. The culture and abject openness of these individuals left an indelible impression.
Q: How do you translate elements of your adventure into your clothing lines?
A: Whether canoeing down Amazon headwaters, participating in a Native American sun-dance or banding peregrine chicks while repelling off the cliffs of Greenland, I've employed the colors and inspiration of these indigenous art forms into my collection; often incorporating actual fabrics from hand-woven carpets, hand-carved buttons, etc.
Q: When you travel, is there a particular item from your lines that you always bring along?
A: First and foremost a fresh palate and extremely open mind. Clothing-wise I typically travel with a couple of light-weight cashmere sweaters; which are incredibly easy to pack and look better and feel softer with age.
Q: What led you to creating your newest line, Vertical?
A: I was desirous of sharing my work with a broader audience. The designs I create are original, authentic, and intricately detailed, often with special features the ultimate consumer discovers only after wearing the garment a number of times. To create this same discovery for the wearer in more competitive priced garments is a rewarding challenge.
Q: If you hadn't gotten into fashion, what would you be doing?
A: Now that's a question I'm never asked, not even by myself! As long as I'm creatively engaged I'm happy. I believe original design within any medium requires elements of the unknown (which always appeals to me), but is best harnessed in somewhat of a controlled environment; not necessarily by others but certainly by oneself. I'd have been every bit as happy directing film, or practicing as a surgeon.
Q: What's next for you?
A: Because of work, travel is always an elemental part of forward planning; often to venues that have become favorites over the years, such as Europe and Asia. The trip for which I'm most excited about, however, is a long-distance canoe expedition that I'm planning with my 16-year-old son, Jackson; and the fish yet to catch next summer with Will, my 12-year-old.
For more information on the designer, visit RobertComstock.com.
• Ashley Haines is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a sophomore at Arizona State University.