Fashion and motorsports would appear to have some overlap. On race day, drivers wear uniform fire suits built to a standard of safety. Differentiated by graphics and sponsor emblems, these shells are otherwise unremarkable. Press conferences preceding or following race events are similarly uninspired: Team managers don caps and logo-spattered polos made from the same glossy material.
There’s nothing to blame – race suits must be safe and sponsors pay the bills. But that doesn’t mean drivers and their teams are shackled to a life of aesthetic despair. Where the cameras (and therefore the sponsors) don’t follow, there’s a reprieve for apparel.
As a driver for Vital Speed Motorsports, Trevor Baek spends plenty of time in a race suit. Strapped into his Ferrari 488 GT3 race car and blitzing road courses in the GT World Challenge America series, Trevor doesn’t much care what he’s wearing. But in the early morning hours at the track, or at Ferrari team gatherings in the evening, Trevor wears clothing of his own design.
Métier Studio, a Portland-based menswear label, is a collaboration between Trevor at Vital Speed’s team manager, Kevin Swartout. Both drawn to the world of fashion, Kevin and Trevor longed to embrace style at — and beyond — the racetrack. “We wanted something that was usable and not overdone. This inspired our first capsule.” shares Swartout.
Métier Studio’s initial line is all about the details. The foundational tee is sourced from Italy and available in white, dune, and “vital” blue with space in the neck and a slimmer profile. Rather than making a polo, they followed up with an Italian cotton Pique in white with an understated look and a longer fit.
The next layer is where things get interesting. Made from high gauge Japanese French Terry, Métier’s driver crewneck is dense but not overly chunky. The crewneck pays homage to race suit grab hoops (used to extract a driver in emergency situations) with plackets on the shoulders. The sleeves have their own flourishes, with a full placket and French button over jersey material. In profile, the modern piece has a longer fit and a split hem.
The brand’s current halo piece is its racer jacket. “We asked ourselves, ‘If we could use any fabric in the world, what would we choose?’” recalls Swartout. Intended as a versatile, handsome piece that can be worn to and from the track, the jacket is breathable, warm, and water-resistant. While traveling the world to find the best fabrics, Kevin and Trevor discovered Schoeller, a mill in Switzerland with exceptional material quality. Using the mill’s expertise for the outer shell, Métier turned to Japanese milled weave for the full lining. Other highlights include bi-directional zippers (handy when your race suit’s bundled around your waist), a shoulder pocket, and a rib for the sleeve and bottom. “Considering what’s in there,” Swartout mulls, “it’s not an expensive jacket.”
Métier’s symbolism goes deeper than the pieces themselves. First crowned upon Olympic athletes, the laurel wreath has long represented victory. In motorsports, the laurel branch is draped on the shoulders of winning drivers or pictured on the caps that accompany trophies and champagne. Inspired by this symbol, Métier Studio uses a simplified version of the laurel branch as its logo.
“Every stitch matters,” asserts Baek. “One of our pieces had a stitch that was 1/16th of an inch too long. It affected how the clothing draped, fit, and how you’d wear it.” Needless to say, that errant stitch was corrected, allowing Trevor to move on to Métier Studio’s next apparel line. “We want to draw on other stories — other things that inspire us — with future capsules,” says Baek. Whatever those stories may be, count on Métier’s clothing to tell them well.