The collaboration that’s been blossoming between Tommy Dant, owner of Irvington’s influential men’s clothing store James Dant, and Mike Gillis and Gary Patterson, partners in the Indianapolis-based clothing line WDRFA, is at last coming to fruition. The guys’ spring collection of lightweight jackets and Indiana state bird–embroidered T-shirts will debut at a pop-up event in the James Dant store from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 14. With the launch of the WDRFA x James Dant line looming, we spoke with the three Hoosier natives who currently define the men’s fashion scene in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Monthly: Where did the collection’s name, “WE,” come from?
Mike Gillis: WDRFA stands for “We Don’t Run From Adversity.” This year, we really wanted to focus on bringing the city together and doing collaborations. So the “WE” really came from just embodying the whole community and trying to bring a sense of togetherness in Indianapolis. In doing the collaboration, we do hope to expose a lot of people to James Dant the store, as well as Tommy being able to help us expose our brand.
IM: What’s the new collection like?
MG: So we are releasing two spring, lightweight, and water-resistant jackets, as well as two shirts. Even though it’s mainly for the spring, these jackets and colors will still be good for the fall. With the jackets being water-resistant, we added PVC patches, which are rubber patches. With the patches and the jacket being water-resistant, it basically just adds a lot of value to what we put together.
IM: On Instagram, we’ve seen the caption, “Through time, the true meanings of the symbols we’ve presented will be recognized and appreciated as timeless,” with photos of the collection. Where did this come from? What are you trying to do with this phrase?
Gary Patterson: Everything that you see within the collection is a full collaboration. So every detail is okayed between all three of us. Even that quote is from all of us. For instance, the bird on the jacket, which is a rubber patch of the Indiana state bird, is timeless. It’s our state bird and it represents us because we are all Indiana-born and -raised. So that’s why we feel like that’s timeless, because no matter where we are, that bird will always have significance to us. Then there’s the jacket that says “WE.” The symbol in “WE,” is just “we embody.” We feel like we embody things that we can find in bigger cities and in different movements, lifestyles, and other places. We feel like we embody that here and we want to share that. We want to build on that with our demographic as well as Tommy’s demographic. So that’s why we feel like it’s timeless and why it can live a lot longer than just this release.
IM: Out of everything in the line, what do you personally most want to wear?
MG: The black jacket with the “WE” on it. Primarily because black is one of my favorite colors when it comes to dress. But it’s so understated, and depending on the way that the sun hits the jacket, it’s always a different look. I almost feel like you’re getting two or three jackets in one when you look at that black jacket.
GP: Right now my favorite is the “Alliance Over Reliance” jacket, which is a tan jacket. It’s super basic, and for me it’s an everyday jacket. It’s interesting because the jacket is navy and tan and we really didn’t intend for it to be like that. But the good thing about this collaboration is a lot of the things we truly love in clothing we pull out, and it really shows through the collaboration.
Tommy Dant: I’m kind of at a toss-up right now. I said from the beginning that the black jacket is going to be my favorite, because I’ve been wearing a lot of black, like Mike said, and there is something about that “WE” that pops just right. But I’ve also been spending a lot of time with the T-shirts the past couple days. I really like the Navy Pocket T-shirt. I really love the combination of navy and yellow with the bird we put on there.
Join the collaborators for the new line release at the James Dant store in Irvington. James Dant, 5624 E. Washington St., 317-974-9715