10 Questions with Jonathan Coons, Founder of New England Fashion Brands


IN SPRING 2013, longtime New Englander Jonathan Coons had been working in e-commerce and marketing for nearly ten years when he had an epiphany: What if he could create an online space to highlight and promote the growth of local brands, not only in the New England market but nationally and internationally as well? Enter New England Fashion Brands, a fashion blog and marketplace showcasing the very best New England manufacturing has to offer. We caught up with Jonathan as he was embarking on a home renovation, transforming a dark and damp basement into an elegant office ("Think bourbon, fireplaces, and Man of the World magazines on an old World War II trunk," he told us.) Here, the Needhamite dishes on Fall's must-have accessories and why buying locally is so important.


1. What do you love most about New England style? It can be rugged, it can be preppy, it can be dressy, or a combo, even. I love the individualistic appeal of a fashionable New Englander. Boat shoes and Nantucket Reds; raw denim and flannels and tweed; slim chino’s, a button down, and loafers -- all of this is available at our finger tips, made right here, hidden away among this most beautiful six-state region.

2. Why is buying local so important to you? The Made in America movement is key not only for New England but for our entire country. We are so damn talented and our products are of top quality. Our local brands are producing some of the best stuff out there, and the best way to support their craft is to put money in their pockets – so they can continue employing local talent, sourcing local materials, and churning out beautiful and long lasting product.

3. Who's your style icon at the moment? I am currently obsessed with a combo of Nick Wooster and Michael Bastian. Wooster’s individual, Zero-F’s-given style meshed with Bastian’s smooth Americano vibe? In my mind, a perfect combo.

4. What's your must-have accessory for fall? A slim-fit tweed blazer. I just so happen to have the newest offering from L.L.Bean Signature waiting for me. Their new-for-fall-2014 tweed blazer is epic! Winter? I LOVE jackets. Think Mother Freedom’s "Upper Harbor" jacket, or Ball and Buck’s "Upland" Jacket. Both are warm, rugged, yet stylish!

5. What made you decide to redo your basement? Currently my office is wherever I am -- wherever I can grab some wireless service and get cracking. I have a half-finished basement with a working fireplace that is just asking to be converted into a work space.

6. Tell us about your vision for the space? I see it as a true men’s fashion lair. Think leather chairs, bourbon, vintage golf clubs, old trunks, and a working fireplace. I am basing the entire project around two trunks I've collected: First and foremost, my Grandfather's World War II trunk, which still has original WWII-era Air Force stickers and very worn leather handles. Secondly, I purchased a massive seaman’s trunk from an estate sale in Hingham a few summers ago. It's in phenomenal shape -- a beautiful redwood color -- and based on the newspapers found inside, dates back to at least the '50s.I can only image where it has been… which adds to the mystery and the appeal. Plus, the working fireplace has a mantel that is set up beautifully for a Chelsea Clock!

7. Favorite company you've featured on the site recently? We have been lucky enough to work with so many awesome brands that it’s hard to pick a favorite. My most-recent brand spotlight was on Cape Codder Sunglasses. A very cool brand producing Cape Cod and New England-inspired wooden sunglasses. What makes them even more special is that they donate 10% of their proceeds to the Cape Cod National Seashore – something we are more than happy to support!

8. Favorite "fall in New England" pastime? The day I can reinstate my Barbour jackets into my wardrobe is a favorite fall day of mine! But in a New England sense, back-road drives scoping out all the changing colors on our beautiful trees and stopping at a local farm stand or orchard for apple cider donuts and a hot coffee!

9. What's on the horizon for NE Fashion Brands? We are constantly searching for more local brands to work with. I've recently installed an e-commerce component to our site, called NEFB Dry Goods. My (long-term) goal is to curate as much New England-based fashion as I can, and offer it all via our Dry Goods shop. We want to be a one-stop shop, offering only the best in New England fashion brands.

10. What are you...
Reading? Anthony KiedisScar Tissue. I'm huge Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, and I read this for the first time at least 7 years ago.
Watching? As much Big Bang Theory as I can find.
Listening to? Shingo Nakamura’s most recent album, Days.
Wearing? Literally right now? Vineyard Prep’s "Circuit Ave" zipup hoodie, Category 5 boaties, Ralph Lauren denim, Loyal Citizen’s “New England” T-shirt.
Dreaming about? A week in Napa, or Paris, or the Hamptons.
Cooking? I have been HUGE into homemade pizza recently. Depending upon mood, this can range from rolling my own dough to buying Boboli’s from Roche Bros!
Drinking? Fall brings back the bourbons, and my absolute favorite is Berkshire Mountain Distillers Bourbon Whiskey. For more info about Jonathan or New England Fashion Brands, please visit his website.