“It’s just me.”
At first sight, Left Field NYC founder Christian McCann is kind of an intimidating dude. Tall, a boxer’s build, countless tattoos; basically exactly what you’d imagine – or hope – the man behind his brand would look like. However, once you get him talking, it doesn’t take long for the menace to fade. Beneath the tough exterior is one of the most genuine and thoughtful guys in the menswear business. It might seem funny to say, but he’s actually a lot like his clothes: earnest, pretense-free, and steadfast. Despite our being over an hour late, he warmly welcomes my sister and I into his studio. “I’m sorry you had such a hard time finding the place,” he says. “I’m glad you guys are here.”
Formerly a sweater factory, the Left Field space is about as raw is it gets. There’s no real decor to speak of, nothing flashy or meant to impress, just purely utilitarian. Ceiling-high industrial steel shelves, over-stuffed boxes of new and old stock, enormous reams of denim, chambray and canvas, samples of upcoming collection pieces. “Believe it or not, I know where everything is” he tells me while I poke through a box of sweatshirts. “There’s an order to it all.” Sprinkled throughout the clutter are random hold-overs from seasons past. Little relics from the brand’s decade-long existence, adding an almost museum-like quality to the space. From a box under where I’m sitting, I pull out a bag of old t-shirt decals. “Yeah,” he smirks, looking at the sack of helmeted skulls, “I’ve been doing this for a while.”
“It’s just me,” he says, while preparing tea for my sister and me. “It’s a brand, and there are stockists, and lookbooks, and all that, so people think it’s a company, a group. But it’s just me.” How he’s able to complete half of what he does in a day, I’ll never know. Between sourcing materials, tracking down domestic manufacturers, designing the collections, dealing with local and international stockists, and the 101 other daily tasks of running his label (not to mention the dozens of responsibilities associated with his soon-to-be-launched undergarment brand Choctaw Ridge), McCann does not have much in the way of free time. “I do whatever has to be done,” he tells me when I ask him about his day-to-day. “Pressing, washing, sewing labels – if I don’t do it, it won’t happen.”
McCann’s get-it-done-at-any-cost DIY approach has been paramount to the brand’s longevity. He shows me the first-ever Left Field lookbook, a zine-like collection of 8.5 x 11 pages, filled with cut-outs from 70s biker mags and crudely drawn illustrations of the premier collection. “I started this in a kitchen, pressing t-shirts on the table. It’s always been this way. I’m just making more stuff now, so there’s more to do.” When I ask him about bringing on extra help, he tells me he’s thought about an intern, “but they have to do the job. To see it through, whatever it is, whenever it has to be finished.” And learn your organization system, I joke. “Yeah,” he smiles, “that too.”
Foreground: McCann. Background: LF history.
McCann showing me some of the fabric samples from his SS11 collection.
The first Left Field lookbook.
To check out McCann’s latest, visit the Left Field NYC e-store.