Interview with Craig von Schroeder, Founder of Commonwealth Proper
Hey, could you please introduce yourself with one fun fact?
As a Boy Scout, I won the Pinewood Derby in my troop, which consisted of whittling a block of wood, affixing wheels and racing against others. It was the start and finish of my exploits as a mechanic.
What inspires you most?
Great design and aesthetics. It just makes life experiences so much richer. From architecture to prose, a well-thought-out design makes things better.
I noticed you are into vintage styles, where do you find your balance between classic and current?
Historical references are great sources of inspiration. Most vintage clothing details are functioning ones that become water-downed over time for the mass market. I am not for adornment. I like things to be made FOR something.
Could you please share a little bit as to how CMMP got its start?
I grew up in a small farming town in NJ outside of Princeton. We were bussed into Princeton for high school, since our town was too small to have one. I both hated and revered my new brethren, as they introduced me to the to-the-manor-born life, something that was both foreign and mesmerizing. So when I decided to created a clothing brand, it had to represent a certain success in life with an irreverent undercurrent, hence the branding of "Gentlemen Rebels." That ethos comes through in our custom jacket linings, which are of course hidden in the jacket, and designed with skulls, daggers, devils, crows - you know, rebel shit.
As custom tailors, what is the importance of maintaining relevance?
We call ourselves "New School Tailors" since we utilize old world, gold standard production techniques to create contemporary clothing for the modern man. We also have been pioneers in sourcing performance and technical fabrics for our clothing, including our new "City Suit" that utilizies imported Swiss tech fabric that's waterproof, windproof, bacteria proof, and, well, Whiskey-Proof.
Custom tailored clothing is definitely something where you need to pay to play. A hand made garment from a master tailor to fit your exact proportions is an experience unmatched. However, with technology in the garment manufacturing industry continuing to advance, do you see a potential future with more accessible custom clothing?
We're purposefully nitch in order to provide the BEST possible experience and quality products. It takes a highly-trained and skilled staff to give the sartorial advice we're known for. It's not just about the clothes. Men have their doctor, lawyer, accountant - and we want to be their "sartorial attaches" or style advisors. We've earned their trust over the last 13 years of being in this business of giving proper counseling on clothing. It's hard to scale such a service.
What is your favorite clothing garment to get custom made?
A custom topcoat. You can get so much use during the winter months and it's an ideal item to get funky with the fabric.
Working with a bunch of artists, makers, and musicians, most recently Zander Bleck, Cheyenne Randall, and Garrixon Studio to name a few, why is collaboration important to you? Who would you love to work with in the future?
Collaboration makes life more interesting. It's engaging with other creative minds that continues to pull the brand forward. We're looking to continue working with artists of all kind, including fine artists, tattoo artists etc.
What is something that has always been on your bucket list to do?
Go to Japan & Morocco. They both hold design allure and aesthetics that I cannot get enough of. I want to go to the source.
With 4 locations and growing, what are your goals for the future of the brand?
We'll continue to grow our Rittenhouse workshop to produce more clothing in Center City. A lot of our suppliers in NY & NJ are struggling during the pandemic, we want to be self-sufficient. We're also working on an online custom portal - this will allow us to reach clients globally from the comfort of our Rittenhouse showrooom.