There are some new kids on the bow tie block. Nick Barnes & Jonathan Snyder are the founders of men’s apparel company Brier & Moss. Crusading Commoners recently caught up with one half of the company, Jonathan Snyder, for an in depth chat over fine cigars and Bulleit bourbon. Tucked away in a corner of The Leaf Cigar Lounge, filled with the aroma of heavy smoke, we discussed virtually everything. From the origin of the bow tie line, to the future of the company, not a stone was left unturned. Nevermind the rambunctious bunch sitting adjacent to us---gentlemen were speaking. And the conversation flowed from the moment we rested in those plush, chocolate leather seats. Get to know them better below, trust us, you’ll be hearing [read: seeing] Brier & Moss a lot more in the future.
Crusading Commoners: How did your journey as a designer begin?
Jonathan Snyder: Well, my partner [Nick Barnes] and I were attending the Keeneland Horse Race in Kentucky and didn’t realize how big of a staple the bow tie was. A bow tie was to a gentleman what a sundress was to a lady. Needless to say, we were not prepared. (laughs) Then I started to look for ties with university colors, specifically my alma mater [Samford University], but could not find any. We quickly realized that there was a market for SEC-colored bow ties and decided to go for it. Our first collection, Southern Stripes, was based around this discovery.
CC: How did you and your partner meet?
JS: We met during fraternity rush week at Samford and have remained good friends since then. Upon graduation, Nick in 2006, and I in 2007, we both went separate ways to jumpstart our careers, but remained very close friends, practically brothers!
CC:I thought the company’s name was a combination of your names, but that is clearly not the case, where did the name for the company originate?
JS: We were on a trip to Savannah a few years back with a good friend of ours and were discussing possible names for the company. We wanted to somehow pay tribute to the elegance and lifestyle of our favorite southern city. If you’ve ever been to Savannah, you’ll notice the Spanish moss covering trees everywhere, so that’s where the Moss half stems from. We thought that Moss was a bit soft, so we wanted to contrast with something a little more harsh, but still keeping with the theme. After some botany research of our own, we discovered that the British spell Briar with an “e”. Then it was settled, the name of the company would be Brier & Moss. There is a story behind the name, but no specific meaning. I think that’s cool because so many fashion lines are based off of the names of their designers.
CC: Who is your favorite designer?
JS: Without a doubt, Ralph Lauren. I think his ability to cover virtually ever aspect of the fashion industry so well is absolutely amazing. From formal wear to jeans and t-shirts. He’s even managed to crossover into home décor. That’s talent!
CC: Would collaborating with other designers be something we may expect from Brier & Moss in the future?
JS: Definitely. We are still growing and developing our brand, but are definitely open to collaborating with other designers. We actually have a project in the works now where we are collaborating with different photographers for a marketing project.
CC: What inspires you as a designer?
JS: Myself and my partner. The everyday gentlemen. Nick and I want to consistently create quality product that we would wear. That’s how this whole thing started. So whenever we create something or are brainstorming ideas, we ask ourselves “Would I wear this?” I think as long as we can always answer yes, then our brand is synonymous with what we want it to be.
CC: You guys create custom bow ties, yes? Is that something that will continue in the future?
JS: We do. We actually just created an all black set for a friend’s wedding and named it after him. We’re always open to custom ideas, so long as we can have a creative hand and there are mutual benefits for both parties, it is absolutely something that we will continue in the future.
CC: If you could create one bow tie for any one client, who would it be and what would it look like??
JS: Richard Branson. It would be all silk, a red field with scattered V’s everywhere in the shape of the Virgin logo. Branson is a business idol of mine and I would love for him to wear one of our ties---and he may have the opportunity to wear it in space! That would be too cool!!
CC: What advice would you give designers who are trying to break into the industry?
JS: I would say that you need to think one year out. Plan where you want to be in a year and work backwards from there. There are lots of things that happen at start-up which you don’t anticipate, so thinking a year ahead really helps move things along. You’ll be planning for product that will actually be in season once you get ready to launch.
CC: That advice can be applied to any concept really. So in saying that, where do you see Brier & Moss in one year?
JS: In one year, we will be a complete details company. Bow ties, neckties, socks, pocket squares. Basically a one-stop-shop for all men’s accessories. Perhaps later, we will branch out into a full men’s line, but for now, we are focused on the small things, because those are what make a difference. That’s what sets you apart.
Indeed it is the details that separate the men from the boys and the good fellows at Brier & Moss have got us covered. View the official brand images below and shop the entire Southern Stripes collection at BrierAndMoss.com
and stay tuned to Crusading Commoners for updates on new collections and giveaways!