When fashion veteran Shawn Pean decided to move from behind the scenes and into the spotlight to launch his own luxury menswear label last year, many would have thought it couldn’t have been at a worse time. A global pandemic, supply chain delays and quarantine dressing had drastically altered the fashion landscape. But Pean, who started his career as a buyer at JCPenney, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue before moving on to work with luxury brands Valentino and Balmain, saw an opportunity. “The pandemic led to a shift in how people move about their daily lives,” he says. “There’s a lot of things that are fundamentally different and how we dress should reflect it. To me it felt like a modern renaissance was pending and we get to define a totally new tailored segment in fashion.”
Launched last June, June79 is all about the renaissance of luxury—albeit with a very of-the-now, laidback twist. Made in New York City using luxury suiting fabric from Italy, the brand’s signature aesthetic is the “un-suit”: a collection of sportily tailored separates that draw inspiration from European style but are infused with a Brooklyn attitude. Designed to traverse different spaces and cultures, Pean calls it “boardroom to BBQ” style. “We use stretch in all of our fabrics to allow the product to have a different level of movement,” he says. “Men today want to look professional, but don’t want to be the suit in the room, and June79 gives them that style and edge.”
Named for both Pean’s birthdate (June ’79), the atomic number for gold (the standard to which he holds his work) and as a tribute to his late brother June, the label came out of the gate running. A SS22 NYFW presentation as part of Harlem’s Fashion Row was quickly followed by the establishment of a brick-and-mortar boutique in SoHo. Along with suiting, the collection has extended to coordinated shorts, knits and basic tees. The brand’s following includes chef Marcus Samuelsson and NBA star Stephen Curry, and an increasingly female fanbase. “Twenty percent of our jacket business are women,” says Pean. “They love our jackets. It has become their new boyfriend jacket.”
Now, on the eve of the brand’s anniversary, June79 shows no sign of slowing down. Next up is the opening of a Manhattan showroom, which will also offer custom suiting, and a freshly inked deal that will partner the brand with a sports team (which can’t be announced at this time). “Experience has taught me I didn't have to create anything that is extremely bold and futuristic. Art and creativity can be rational, something that makes sense and allows me to create in a space between an evolution and revolution,” says Pean of his sartorial philosophy. “I have been fortunate in my career to create divisions of business that did not exist before. When I took over the men's footwear business at Saks my strategy was to bring in designer sneakers to wear with suits. At the time, people thought I was crazy.” The strategy was decidedly a success and confirmed that Pean has his finger firmly on the fashion pulse, something he has proven again with June79.