A Brand Grows in Brooklyn: The J.McLaughlin Story
Long before Williamsburg made headlines as one of America’s hippest neighborhoods, Jay and Kevin McLaughlin, our co-founders, fell in love with Brooklyn. What began as a fascination with the gracious brownstones and leafy cobblestone streets became an enduring passion for this centuries-old borough. Informed and inspired by their appreciation for New York’s rich history, the brothers had an uncanny sense that Brooklyn would be the perfect place to build the J. McLaughlin brand. Fortuitously, they found a 1920s brick warehouse in a gritty corner of Greenpoint and transformed it into our light-filled design studio and manufacturing facilities. We feel very lucky to call Brooklyn home, as the colorful neighborhoods are an endless source of creative energy and style inspiration and a fabulous backdrop for our new collection of clothing for work, travel, and other fabulous autumnal pursuits.
In the Studio: Q&A with Kevin McLaughlin
Ever since the McLaughlin brothers set up shop in a former 1920s factory on Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn has provided abundant inspiration for our brand. In between designing the new holiday and resort collections, we caught up with Kevin, our creative director, for a chat about his passion for this storied borough.
Let’s start with the backstory—what led you and your brother Jay to Brooklyn?
Back in the mid-1970s, Jay was part of Brooklyn's brownstone revival movement and I was in the clothing business. He renovated and sold a couple of brownstones and we used the proceeds to start our own company. We started with one store on the Upper East Side and by the mid-1990s, we were growing rapidly, so we needed a central spot where we could consolidate design, production and store management. A friend told us about this building in Greenpoint and the rest is history!
How has Brooklyn shaped the J. McLaughlin brand?
Jay and I never set out to create a company that dictated or prescribed fashion. Instead, our purpose has always been to create timeless, classic clothing that allows our customers to express their own personal style. So, while Manhattan is widely recognized as the center of our industry, I believe Brooklyn is closer to the real pulse. Being here gives us a unique view of the advanced edge of style.
How does Brooklyn inspire you?
Jay and I were fortunate to have been early Brooklyn pioneers. We arrived at the advent of the city’s renaissance, which by definition, attracted other creative people. We saw firsthand how art, fashion and music were evolving. Today, Brooklyn’s culture continues to inspire my design team and me. Simply by walking the streets, we gather ideas from the mix of historic and new buildings, the indie coffee shops, film studios and flea markets and then translate them into our collections.