The Perfect Fit

Men's fashion designer Daniel Dugoff in his studio wearing his own menswear line. Courtesy photo.

Posted by Rosalind Early October 20, 2016

 

This story originally appeared in the October 2016 edition of Washington magazine.

Fashion designer Daniel DuGoff, BA10, crafts his line, DDUGOFF, for "the kind of guy who wants something cool, but who also wants to be able to wear it a couple of times in a week," he says. DuGoff's clothes have been called "unbasic basics" and include jackets, T-shirts, button downs, shorts, and pants, but the clothes are beautifully constructed and fit easily into someone's already existing wardrobe.

And the line, which launched in fall/winter 2014, is getting noticed. DuGoff has been written up in magazines such as Metropolis and Interview, and on style blogs like Hypebeast and Style No Chaser. Plus, his spring/summer 2015 line was selected as one of the five best men's collections not showing at fashion week by The New York Times. He was also selected for the CFDA's Fashion Incubator program, a two-year residency that teaches young designers the business of fashion, provides them with low-cost studio space, and gives them access to fashion insiders. Finally, the 27-year-old DuGoff was named to Forbes' Top 30 Under 30 in the art and style category.

"There aren't that many young people who are able to execute a body of work that is as mature as his is," says Crystal Ellis, BA06, who—along with fellow alums and business partners Stephanie Beamer, BA06, and Hillary Petrie, BA06—nominated DuGoff for Forbes' Top 30 Under 30. "It's very hard to make things that are well-executed and appear simple."

DuGoff always knew he wanted to work in design. He studied architecture at Washington University because he liked how it was an "education in problem solving."

In 2009, DuGoff spent a semester at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, where he remembers "everything looking like it comes from the Beatles' Yellow Submarine." DuGoff embraced both the more whimsical work and a suggestion from a professor that he focus on furniture design.

"A lot of my work was really focused at human-scale interactions with buildings and human-scale design within larger contexts," DuGoff says.

After graduation, DuGoff moved to New York and wrote a bunch of different artists in furniture, product, and fashion design. He ended up landing several fashion internships with prestigious companies including Patrik Ervell menswear and Derek Lam's new line 10 Crosby, where he worked with Elizabeth Giardina, BFA02.

In 2011, DuGoff was hired on as a technical designer with Marc Jacobs. In this role, "you're the architect for the clothes," DuGoff says. The team would translate design ideas into concrete directions for the patternmakers and factory. This usually included detailed drawings and long lists of measurements and numbers. When samples came back, the technical designers would make adjustments so a sleeve would hang more beautifully or a pair of pants fit just right.

This turned DuGoff into a meticulous master of the perfect fit. "That's been an incredible skill that I've been able to take into my own line," he says.

At the same time, DuGoff was developing a menswear portfolio of his own. Friends told him his ideas had potential, and he started ordering small amounts of fabric and working with a patternmaker. Soon, the fashion cycle demanded that he either order all the materials to create the entire line or wait for another six months. "I decided to take a leap and quit my job," DuGoff says.

It paid off. He launched his fall/winter line in 2014, and immediately sold to two boutiques in Brooklyn. "I took that as a sign that what I was doing wasn't totally crazy," he says. "That somebody appreciated it."

Now, DDUGOFF is sold online and in a dozen stores in the United States, Canada, and Japan. His line offers unique details: tab button closures, quirky prints, unusual collars, or contrasting stripes and color blocks. It doesn't call attention to itself, but it does still stand out.

"Clothes need to be effortless," DuGoff says. "If it gets too crazy, it's not easy [to wear] anymore. And at the end of the day, I think if people are going to spend some money on nice clothes, they should be able to wear them all the time. It should be a favorite thing."