Style Signature: Meet Brandon Franklin
After perfecting his craft at one of the oldest hat shops in New York City, Brandon Franklin now brings this appreciation of technique to his own brand.
Based in New York City, Brandon Franklin is a classically trained hatmaker that has been crafting hats for nearly a decade. Each hat is handcrafted and custom-made to reflect the individuality and personality of its wearer.
With his partner, Evan (who has been in the hat industry for over six years), after years of working in the fashion industry and under the tutelage of expert hatters, they started B.M. Franklin & Co. Their mission is "to revitalize the image of craftsmen through meticulous demonstration and nuanced design innovations."
When you book their unique Airbnb experience, you'll receive an intensive history of hats and the production process, hands-on instruction and access to a depth of sartorial knowledge from esteemed makers.
From his haberdashery in New York City, Brandon talks to us about fusing classic looks of the past with the modern aesthetics of the future, the gift of being educated by the masters and why making hats is about building relationships.
Thank you so much for speaking with us! First, tell us about your brand, B.m. franklin & co.
We are custom hatmakers and craftsmen based in New York. All of our pieces are meticulously made by hand using the same techniques and tools that were used decades ago during the age of craftsmanship and quality. We use high-quality materials sourced from all over the world to match our standard of craftsmanship. Not only do we provide an exceptional product, but we pride ourselves on providing an education and overall experience for our clients.
Who is the b.m. franklin & co. client?
Our clients are men, women and children of all ages who have heads. We occasionally make special orders for pets as well....
How did you get started?
I got started making hats through working for one of the oldest hat shops in New York City that has been in business since 1922. I worked and apprenticed there for almost six years. I came in and raised the visibility a bit and assisted with developing the business. Our idea was to bring the craft and the "shop" to the client so they could develop an appreciation for the craft and what goes into making a quality piece.
Within a few months, as things started to rapidly pick up, I started assisting with production in the workshop where my education and apprenticeship began. I immediately fell in love with the craft, the history and all the nuances that come with making a hat the way they were made 200 years ago. After working for the company for six years and perfecting my craft, I decided to venture out on my own and start my own brand and shop in 2016.
What is your background?
I'm African-American-born and bred on the East Coast.
What inspires you & your work?
I'm inspired by a ton of things, but I'd say the root of most of my inspiration lies in NYC — the diversity, art community, nature (even the man-made stuff), culture, lifestyles and so on.
What’s your best advice today for your younger self, just starting out?
Who would you love to work with that you haven’t yet?
I'd love to work with a long established hat shop like Lock & Co. Hatters and develop a small collaborative capsule collection for them.
What do you love about working with menswear?
I draw a ton of inspiration from menswear of the past, mainly the accessories and their functionality. Knick-knacks are my weakness, and you can see that through some of our designs.
I think accessories help tell a story, whether about an individual's personality, demeanor or mood. Dressing is an expression in my mind.
What is your "style signature?"
My hat and felt brim trimmings from brims that I've cut off of clients' hats. (I tend to wear the trimmings as bracelets and use them for various ways of accessorizing.)
What are five fun facts that we may not know about you?
- I fell in love with fashion when I started working at Ralph Lauren.
I'm bald (but didn't start making hats for that reason).
- I own one hat — it changes seasonally.
My dream is to open a shop in Rome or Florence in years to come.
- I'm a massive New York Knicks fan.