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The electric aesthetic of Lucky Nahum’s Vluxe
While perusing hundreds of beautiful samples from some of the finest fabric mills in Europe at the home of Lucky Nahum, I’m not surprised to learn that the fashion industry icon had his first custom suit at the age of eight. Born in Tripoli, Libya, to a master tailor and a master seamstress, Nahum and his family moved to the United States in 1967. He attended college at SUNY Fredonia with the desire to become a teacher and also contemplated getting involved in politics. After several interviews with the city school district, Nahum decided teaching was not for him and began to pursue what was already in his blood: a passion for fashion. He opened a local high-end menswear shop and began designing his own line of silk ties. Distinctive shirts followed and both were sold in premier boutiques around the world.
After a legal dispute over a contract took a toll on his brand as well as his family, Nahum stepped away from design to work on two books—which he still plans to finish—before being approached by his new business partners. Today, the stylish and gregarious Nahum is happy to be out of retirement and back in his fast-paced element with his new menswear collection, Vluxe. “The industry can be crazy. But for those of us who are passionate, this is what we do,” he says. Nahum is not only the designer, but also the creative director responsible for marketing the Vluxe brand, and he enjoys infusing his sense of humor into his messaging with bold shirt descriptions and advertising campaigns.
“I think the customer is ready for the next thing,” Nahum says as he presents the artfully crafted shirts from what he describes as a “model-strong” collection. The Vluxe line currently consists of eight different options, while other menswear designers typically release two. The shirts are made from fabrics sourced from Italy, Austria, Portugal, and Turkey and feature details that echo the “V” in the brand’s logo. Shirt collars have a triangular detail on the back in either the same fabric or one that slightly contrasts. Buttons have three holes (instead of the standard four) and shoulders are sewn with three pleats, providing great visual appeal and allowing for a more comfortable fit.
Nahum envisioned a clean overall look for the new line and wanted to focus on one accent, versus what he refers to as the “mixed media,” Robert Graham–inspired shirts that have become popular over the past decade. “Every part of those shirts have been touched—the cuff, the collar, the placket—except one,” he says as he pulls out a shirt with a subtle contrasting detail along the top two buttons below the placket. “We’re calling it the V-Spot,” he says with a chuckle, “It hadn’t been touched yet. And hopefully they’ll find it!” Keeping the sleek and minimal look in mind, Nahum also prefers designing shirts without pockets, allowing the cut and the fabrics to speak for themselves. However, his experience in retail taught him that the lack of pocket could potentially cost him a sale. His creative solution is to include an orange envelope tag emblazoned with “Pick a Pocket.” The envelope holds a ready-made pocket and matching thread that a customer can take to a tailor. “Ninety-five percent won’t use it,” Nahum says, “but one-hundred percent will think it’s cool!” And speaking of cool, Nahum also exhibits some impressive craftsmanship in a reversible shirt called the 2Fer. Every detail, from the discreet label to the reversible buttons and buttonholes, is enough to turn any skeptic of reversible gear into a believer.
Shirts aren’t the only items Nahum has up his sleeve. He also offers a line of men’s dress gloves made from sheep nappa leather. They are water repellant, lined in cashmere or wool, and are hand-embossed with the Vluxe logo. While the gloves come in basic brown and black, Nahum is thrilled to offer them in uncommon bright colors like red, light blue, and his two personal favorites: orange and lime green. Buyers also have the option to select contrasting color pick stitching.
Nahum knows that this line will appeal to a more expressive and fashion-forward audience. “Comparing needs and wants is like comparing water and wine. You need the water to survive, but you’d rather drink the wine. It just makes for a nicer dinner.” The next thing he’ll be working on is selecting fabric from the mills for Spring 2017 and also designing and printing a few fabrics of his own. He enjoys being able to live and design in Rochester near his family while sharing his passion with the world. “Hey, if these are a hit, I’ll be a genius; and if not, I’m just another designer,” he says. With his return generating quite the buzz at recent trade shows, Nahum appears to have scored a home run.
Stacey Rowe is a freelance writer based in Rochester.