“I'm trying to dress like an adult, it's hard.”
Luke Fracher, the co-founder of the massively popular streetwear and vintage gear purveyor Round Two, is trying to mature his look and navigate that transitional period all streetwear consumers go through when a graphic T-shirt might look too juvenile but a suit isn’t quite right, either. It’s a problem that, at least partially, he wants to help fix with his very own cut and sew line, Midori—“Trying to dress grown” is even spelled out in the brand’s Instagram bio.
“I'm 32 now. I just feel like I love streetwear and it's still a huge part of my life, but I think day to day, I just kind of want to wear more low-key, toned down things,” says Fracher. “Cool pieces that fit well and have good silhouettes and are comfortable.”
Fracher debuted the first Midori collection on Dec. 30 via its official online store. Six days later, the five-piece offering, which consisted of items like $250 dyed canvas shirt jackets, $150 ripstop shorts, and $280 cargo pants, had completely sold out. While he says they kept the first drop fairly limited, with around 20 pieces of each item produced, it was still rewarding to see that many shoppers were receptive to his creations.
“Shoutout everyone who did cop a piece,” he says. “It was very gratifying. At the end of the day, this is just a creative outlet and expression of what I'm into. To see that other people care about it and look at it that way is great.”
The name Midori translates to “green” in Japanese. Fracher settled on the name due in part to his love for Japanese designers like Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons and Junya Watanabe’s interpretations of traditional Americana. The entire first collection, which takes inspiration from the creations of the aforementioned designers, was produced and sourced in Los Angeles, where Fracher has spent most of the past year. He says finding the perfect factory was a daunting task. Ultimately, he settled on what he refers to as an, “800 square-foot office on the seventh floor of a building downtown,” much different than the massive space he had envisioned. He hoped to debut Midori months ago, but roadblocks like the pandemic and original patterns having to be completely remade forced him to pivot the launch to late December.
“It is a lesson learned and I'm happy,” says Fracher, who eventually wants to have more firsthand knowledge of pattern making and garment construction. “This has just been a great learning opportunity and I'm just grateful to even have that regardless of the clothes selling out or whatever else.”
Throughout 2020, Fracher enlisted the help of friends like graphic designer and Round Two New York Vintage employee Thor Kimmell, Reggie Colvin of Corporate Skateboards, and Utmost co-owner Tom Hart to bring his vision to life, which was the byproduct of sleepless nights full of note-taking and research. The Child Soldier Jacket is his favorite item, a reference to a Boy Scouts jacket from the ‘20s that his old college roommate owned. The forest green Vietnam Cargo pants were a reference to a pair of Vietnam War era army surplus pants. The Union Jacket references a French workwear piece from the ‘40s that he owns. While the traditional workwear inspiration is obvious, Fracher says he makes sure not to reference other designers and accidentally rip off anyone else.
“I'm not a designer. I don't really design clothes. So it's been a lot of grandiose ideas and scaling them back to a place that's more realistic,” says Fracher, who mentions brands like Marni and Bottega Veneta as some of his favorites right now. “There's no way I could have done all this alone. I don't have the skill sets to. I just have the ideas.”
This isn’t Fracher’s first attempt at launching his own brand, though. Before Midori, he was promoting Mooky, a line that was more akin to traditional streetwear with colorful logo T-shirts and graphic denim. He even dropped a Mooky x Lugz collab in 2019 that dressed the brand’s work boot in pink paisley print. While he says he is grateful for past opportunities, he feels that his newest venture more accurately represents the point where he is at right now in his life.
“I did those couple of projects in 2019, which were amazing opportunities and I was super happy to do them. But I don't think I was necessarily that happy with the overall product,” says Fracher. “Not to say I wasn't happy, but they weren't necessarily representative of my personal style. It has been evolving. So I just wanted to make something that me and my jaded ass friends who hate everything would actually be into.”
Of course, many people are familiar with Fracher for his involvement with Round Two. The co-founder assures that the new venture with Midori does not mean he is stepping away from his current role with the popular multi-city retailer. When it comes to those duties, Fracher admits that 2020 and the ongoing pandemic presented their fair share of challenges, so right now the team’s priority is to keep the ship afloat.
“Our main goal is just to be able to keep the company solvent, stay alive, pay all my people, and just do the best job we can until we can get to a place where life's normal again,” Fracher tells Complex. “I don't know how long that'll be, but at least to a place where we can run it up like we used to. I think for now we're just kind of in survival mode and making sure we can take care of our people the best we can.”
Midori will continue to offer new product throughout 2021, too. Fracher says that he is already working on putting together the brand’s second collection that will boast updates on pieces from the original collection and some new offerings as well. The line is currently sold exclusively online, but Fracher hopes to wholesale his products to various boutiques in the future. If success continues, he might even open a Midori flagship in a couple of years. But don’t expect to see Fracher’s creations on the racks of Round Two any time soon, unless it begins to bubble on the resell market. Fracher acknowledges that the customer bases are very different.
“I'd love to just kind of see it in retailers and just see it accepted as, like, a legitimate brand at the price point that I want it to be at,” he says. “I want this to be a pair of trousers or a wool jacket that you wear for the next 15 years.”