Weeks ago, on Barcelona's Passeig de Gracia, I stopped by the Peter Marino--designed flagship of Spanish fashion house Loewe. I wasn't planning on buying anything. I merely wanted to see the space and browse the brand's collections. As I walked the ground-floor menswear section, though, a blue cotton-and-silk jacket with leather detailing immediately caught my eye. It was one of those rare visceral moments when you feel a strong connection to something. I walked over to try it on. It fit perfectly. I inspected the jacket's elaborate details: The stitching, the cut, the fabrics, and the folds revealed the care and craftsmanship that had gone into making it. Fifteen minutes later, I walked out of the store with it.
When you study quality for a living--which Surfaces editorial team does on a full-time basis--you learn to distinguish the fake from the real deal within a matter of seconds. Our third annual How It's Made issue explores the creation of intricately and thoughtfully designed things, whether it's a Shinola leather watch strap (page 116), a Hans Hollein exhibit at Vienna's Museum of Applied Arts (page 122), or a pair of 3x1 jeans (page 136).
For Dior Homme creative director Kris Van Assche--this issue's cover subject (page 108)--quality is at the core of his meticulous practice. For seven years and nearly 20 collections, he has boosted the French luxury brand's reputation with his consistent focus. The word "luxury" has become vague through overuse and marketing gimmicks, but Van Assche is among a select few in fashion giving it the meaning it was always meant to have: integrity and honesty. We're living in a time when information is easier to get than ever before. Consumers, in turn, have become sawier and more discerning with their purchases. How Dior Homme makes its suits--and how those suits fit--is primarily why people buy them; the Dior name is secondary.
Retailers are sensing the consumer demand for goods made with integrity. Nima Abbasi, founder of the e-commerce platform Crest & Co. and the subject of this issue's Endorsement column (page 70), and Barom Bhicharnchitr, creative director of the Bangkok store Siwilai and the subject of this issue's Travel column (page 38), have created businesses that exemplify why luxury isn't about slapping a label on something. Luxury is instead about quality, transparency, and, dare I say it, truthfulness.