Downtown caught up with co-founder Daniel Golden to learn more about Search and State. Daniel co-founded the company with Devin O’Brien in 2010, launching with a single black jacket and a single black jersey. More on Search and State can be found at www.searchandstate.com; the brand can also be followed on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Before getting into the fashion world, you raced motorcycles. Where did the idea to attend FIT come from?
Daniel Golden: The gear was always a major part of my racing career. Pretty early on I realized I cared as much about what I was wearing as I did about winning. And I cared a lot about winning. If I wasn’t going to win I was going to make sure I was the best dressed loser out there. I was special ordering gear and finding customs things when I was just 12 or 13 years old. When the racing ended, my love for clothing and technical gear was still there so it felt right to start looking at design schools.
The funny part is back then you would go to Borders Bookstore and buy this giant book that listed every college and how to apply. I still remember finding the few fashion schools that were in that thing and bookmarking the page for FIT. I also still remember receiving the acceptance letter in the mail. Pretty sure I am dating myself here.
When did the idea for Search and State come to you? Was it related to not seeing the products that you wanted already being made?
DG: Definitely. I was already a pretty established designer in New York and I had money to spend and I just wanted very clean, black, non-logo gear that was tailored, fit perfectly and functioned. That just didn’t exist at the time. Some good gear existed but I am particular and it all just wasn’t right for me. Anytime you see that void in a market, I think you are right to go after it. That’s what I did and designed one black jacket and one black jersey and was off and running.
What do you feel makes Search and State different from other brands within the cycling world?
DG: There are so many brands out there now, it is crazy. When we started, I think there were only a handful of players really doing it. Now there seems to be tons. But I really work with my head down and don’t look around too much. I don’t think that ever helps me when I am really in a creative space trying to tap into something that is individual. I do know that we offer more than just product, and we’re not a great marketing company trying to fool anyone. I do fully believe we make some of the best cycling gear in the world, and we offer a real platform as a company for people to believe in and partner with and have real life experiences with us. We are constantly talking about bigger and better initiatives and how we can meet more people and do more things.
Who was the first celebrity to wear your brand? Patrick Dempsey?
DG: Talk about working with my head down. I really couldn’t answer this one. I have seen photos of him wearing our stuff which is great. We had some high-profile professional cyclists as early adopters and believers in our gear as well. There were a few photos floating around of our jacket being worn in the Giro D’Italia a few years ago. That’s crazy, to be honest.
And what was the first retailer in New York to sell your products? Any recollection?
DG: Paragon Sports and NYC Velo were the first two. They were two of our first retailers ever, and we still sell to them today. They have been great partners. We actually ask them before we even talk to other dealers in the area. It’s an old-school arrangement, but I think that is still a fair way to work. They take care of us and vice-versa.
Do you have a favorite item from the Search and State brand?
DG: They say you always remember your first, and the S1J jacket is still our flagship piece. I have looked at it a few times over the years and thought about what I would change and I never touch it. I think it was everything I wanted a jacket to be when I made it, and I just made sure it was right from the start. That has become a beloved piece for me and a lot of other people.
Not every motorcyclist is an avid cyclist. Where did you passion for cycling come from?
DG: I stopped racing motorcycles because the injuries were getting more serious as I was getting older. The faster you go the harder you hit the ground when you come unglued. You can’t change that. By the time I was 18 and going to national events to race as a pro, a lot of people around me were really getting banged up and some close friends were paralyzed. That was a reality of the sport you had to be ready to deal with.
But I still loved going fast and being outdoors and that feeling of being on the edge even just a little bit isn’t something you can suppress after you’ve had a taste of it and been doing it for most of your life. We sold all the motorcycles and a few days later, I had my first road bike and was out there trying to go fast. It helped me transition away from that level of racing and soon enough I was in love with the bikes as well. I have never stopped riding since.
Manhattan is not the easiest place to cycle. Do you have places that you enjoy cycling most?
DG: You are right about that. I love open roads and going fast and finding a rhythm and midtown can severly impede all of those things. I have done my share of loops in Central Park and Prospect [Park], but I still do 9W and go out and explore. New Jersey actually has some great riding as well. I think it’s underrated. But travel is where it’s at when you can swing it. I am grateful for every trip I go on and remember them all.
I understand that your company is based in the Garment District. Are there any cycling-related companies in your neighborhood?
DG: I am sure there might be, but I do believe we are the only ones manufacturing high-end technical cycling apparel exclusively in Midtown. Every piece we make comes out of the same sewing room.
Recent collection aside, what is coming up for Search and State? Any Search Brigade events in the New York area?
DG: Search Brigade New York sounds great. The next one is in L.A. and is a beast. It should be spectacular. On the product side, we are expanding our sportswear assortment and looking at some transitional pieces that will have more on and off the bike function.
When not busy with Search and State, how do you like to spend your free time?
DG: Free time is a limited resource these days but aside from anything cycling or company related I make art and paint and I am trying to get my two-person blues band with with my four-year old daughter up and running. She can lock down a mean beat already.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in New York?
DG: Great question. I am definitely a New York restaurant guy and have been to many. Sadly, some of my favorites have disappeared. To be honest, my new approach to New York dining has been to walk around and pop into new places that look appealing from the sidewalk. I love that element of surprise and spontaneity lately. There are some great places out there that I never knew about when I used to just go to all the heavy-hitter joints. So many chefs make great food now. It’s everywhere. It’s not just in the top places anymore.
Finally, Daniel, any last words for the kids?
DG: Nope. I’m in a transitional state. No longer young…but not quite old and wise yet. Try me again in a few years.