Courtenay Nearburg and Mike Rubin of the menswear label Krammer & Stoudt delivered a culturally robust presentation at New York Fashion Week: Men’s.

One of the most impressive presentations at New York Fashion Week: Men’s comes from partners Courtenay Nearburg and Mike Rubin of the menswear label Krammer & Stoudt. The couple, inspired by a recent trip to Tokyo as well as the vibrancy of New York’s street culture, presented a dynamic show, more akin to performance art than the traditional catwalk. “We were so moved by the organized chaos of Tokyo,” Nearburg says. “The experience of walking the streets of such a large city was so peaceful.”

A model at the Krammer & Stoudt Spring Summer 19 presentation | Courtesy of Krammer & Stoudt

A model at the Krammer & Stoudt Spring Summer 19 presentation | Courtesy of Krammer & Stoudt

“Tokyo is sprinkled with beautiful aspects of nature. We tried to capture that for our show.” In particular, the duo recreated Tokyo’s Shibuya crosswalk, and peopled the showroom with a cast of models and dancers in traditional Noh theatre makeup. “We didn’t want to be offensive to Japanese people in any way.” Nearburg adds that the show represented their experience in the city, fused with a distinctively New York energy. To capture that energy, the duo cast Flex and LiteFeet dancers alongside models.

A model at the Krammer & Stoudt Spring Summer 19 presentation | Courtesy of Krammer & Stoudt

Gerard “Ptah” Blair, 27, of the Flex dance community — a style of dance that fuses Caribbean and hip-hop culture — says of performing in the Krammer & Stoudt show, “This was a dream project. I felt welcome; I was able to be myself.” Of Rubin, Nearburg, and their team, he says, “They offered direction, but not limitation. I didn’t have to change who I am to be a part of the presentation. Mike [Rubin] took time to watch us from a distance [at the casting]. He allowed us to create and also spoke at length about his time in Japan, sharing different elements of his life.”

A model at the Krammer & Stoudt Spring Summer 19 presentation | Courtesy of Krammer & Stoudt

“The clothes were so light I felt a sense of freedom wearing them,” says Blair. “There’s a difference of being grounded by clothes, and being grounded by myself.”

To achieve the airy quality, Rubin sourced fabrics for the collection from Japan, Italy, Portugal, and France. “The quality is really nice; [I selected fabrics with] pure fiber content.” The designer adds that he has a penchant for linen and cotton/linen blends as well as lightweight denim.

A model at the Krammer & Stoudt Spring Summer 19 presentation | Courtesy of Krammer & Stoudt

Another performer, Joel Kozik, 22, a dancer from the LiteFeet Waffle Crew, says Rubin approached streetwear with appreciation for the dancers and street culture in general. As a dancer, Kozik was impressed with the fabrics of the collection, which he describes as “breathable.”

“I’m enjoying that the fashion world has taken notice of our dance,” says Donovan Demetrius, 25, also of the Waffle Crew. He compares his squad with the A$AP Crew, pioneered by A$AP Rocky, the rapper and face of Dior who most recently collaborated with Raf Simons for the song “Raf.” “A$AP [Rocky] is a bridge for high fashion and streetwear. He’s an inspiration,” rocking Balenciaga as effortlessly as FILA. It’s exactly this aesthetic — at the intersection of couture and streetwear — where Krammer & Stoudt finds its footing.

Stop motion films of the designers’ experiences on the streets of Tokyo, rearranged by artist Gavin Baker, served as a backdrop to the presentation to “show the everyday life of Tokyo.” A remix of the pop song “Pumped Up Kicks,” with subversive lyrics about school shootings played on repeat and served as beats for the dancers. “We approached this from the standpoint of the dancers acting like ghosts,” says Nearburg. “You don’t have [school shootings and gun violence] in the same way in Japan. There’s something so spiritual about that culture. Is that the difference? We wanted to pose that question, which is why we had an overlay of the Japanese experience.”

The clothes themselves also posed that question, as the Krammer & Stoudt Spring Summer 19 collection paired kimono swing blouses and chinos, accessorized with Converse sneakers. T-shirts, linen blazers, and anoraks rounded out the collection, as well as some looks that reimagined Japanese farmers in the streets of New York. Wearability defines this season, as Rubin says, “for trousers, I choose a silhouette with more room around the hips, which allows the guys to move around.”

A young label, Krammer & Stoudt has a promising future in menswear as it continues to align itself with cultural inquisitiveness.

This story first appeared in Culture Trip.