The Phoenix Project is Reviving Iconic Style, One Item at a Time

Need style guidance? Then take a lesson from these legends.

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Some are born with a personal sense of style. The rest of us learn to develop it like any other skill, through seeking advice from those in the know. Bench & Loom’s Phoenix Project is a unique initiative that helps men take inspiration from icons like Brando, Dean, Elvis and more, by recreating the distinctive items that defined their look.

The process starts with extensive research. Photo archives and movies libraries assist the team in identifying possible projects worth remaking like the bomber immortalized by Marlon Brando’s character Terry Malloy in On The Waterfront, or the cowboy boots worn by James Dean in Giant. The hunt then continues for stronger points of reference from an existing original, conversations with family descendants, museum curators and even searches through private estate collections.

An equal amount of diligence goes into sourcing top materials and craftsmen from both Europe and America to help bring the items to life. From American cotton, to French leather and Italian wool — the mills and families used are often the same as those contracted by notable luxury brands. The resulting work is more than just an officially licensed, hand-numbered piece of clothing available for a limited time. It’s a revival that honors the authenticity of the original in both looks and quality.

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Playing the iconoclastic character of Jett Rink was not too much of a stretch for James, and the ranch-style wardrobe in particular suited his personal style, which he could be seen wearing on and off set throughout production of Giant. With the movie plot spanning over 25 years the clothes needed to reflect the period, but the denim shirt seen here is completely timeless – the only indication of period being the pocket watch pocket on the left chest. $225

Union corruption, violence and unlikely love unfold in what is considered one the best movies ever made. Winner of eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director, On The Waterfront stars several prominent actors but all are overshadowed by Marlon Brando in what may have been his greatest ever performance. Based on true events and shot on location, most of the film’s dock workers were true-life longshoremen wearing their own clothes and Brando’s wardrobe stands the test. Phoenix Project made this bomber in collaboration with Japanese cult brand, Real McCoys. $725

During the two-month long filming of Giant, James would walk around the set on the enormous ranch near Marfa, Texas and indulge in his hobby of photography. Not surprisingly, while he was doing this – despite the blazing sun and record heat – he himself was photographed and this is the shirt he favored. James Dean used with permission from James Dean, Inc.$168

Musical history was made one day in 1956 when four of America’s most popular musicians found themselves, rather serendipitously, in Sun Studio: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. A local newspaper captured the moment and famously dubbed it, “The Million Dollar Quartet.” Elvis wore a nubuck leather jacket into the studio that day. He appreciated its handsome simplicity and favored the jacket’s style throughout the 1950s and ‘60s when the design could be found among his wardrobe both on and off the stage and screen. $1800 | Johnny wore a twill baseball-style jacket on that momentous day. The uniquely American design was casual and cool and very befitting of the humble rebel. $375

Thanks to James Dean’s cousin in Fairmount, Indiana (James’ hometown), The Phoenix Project was able to study the originals and then track down the same bootmaker in Arizona – still in business – that happened to have the very same pattern and last in their archives. These are the real McCoys. $748

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