FEATURE Liam and Daniel Maynard, Founders Noble Gentlemen Trading.

Noble Gentrification

by Gil Melott
Brothers Liam and Daniel Maynard bring an engaging sense of enthusiasm, vision, modern family values and a fresh take on today's 'gentleman' with their fashion business - Noble Gentlemen Trading.

I recently spoke to Liam Maynard, half the of The Noble Gentlemen duo. He and his brother Daniel seem to be making sizable strides in bringing progressive, fresh, radical and forward-thinking brands to North America.

Sometimes you can’t help but have a preconceived notion of someone before you meet them. I did. I am happy to say Liam not only delivered on his promise as a young and enterprising business person, he was freaking brilliant from time to time. Just don't tell him that. He is a true representative of the brands in their stable of businesses and a could be brand ambassador for the customers they serve. He is bright, chill, maniacal, a big picture thinker, but realizes in the end it’s about the brands and the people. He knows you have to go deep and deliver with passion. And anyone that can use, rad, stoked or homie in conversation without sounding contrived or ironic - is the man.

Quite frankly he made me want to be a few years younger, lose those last holiday pounds and drink another espresso to make sure I was able to stay ahead of him in our collective thinking and my questions. He is a cool dude.

Noble Gentlemen Trading is the North American distributor and brand representative for premium menswear brands including Broken Homme, ZaneRobe, Rains and NeuW Denim – some of the freshest brands making their way onto the scene and finding homes in exclusive shops in the U.S. and Canada.

The clarity of their business came forward when Liam said, “We don’t purchase products, we place them.” It goes to the heart of the brothers' belief and practice to know what is wanted “now” and “before” a consumer knows they want it. "Know the customer as well as you know the brands you represent," commands Liam. 

RAINS

ZANEROBE

“We realize we are in the commodities business. With a company like Rains, why wouldn’t it be a relevant objective to make Rains brand raincoats and jackets as impulsive a ‘reach for’ as an umbrella?” Laughing he added, “Someone did that same thing with the umbrella.”

The challenge as with anything is to harness the energy of the consumer and the brands so they coexist to arrive at the same place at the same time. 

“We know and we study and we live our customer. We are our customer.“ Almost pleased by his impending analogy, he announces, “Unfortunately the world works as if we are goldfish, circling around and around in a big glass bowl looking for the next shiny thing – because new is renewing. But it's never satisfying unless it's authentic.”

Liam and Daniel both pay close attention to social trends by watching all segments of the media and as many trendsetters or stylemakers as they can. Asked what he thought might be the three critical ‘cultural or trend’ indicators to watch for Liam said confidently,

“Music is first. It is the number one catalyst for the mood of a generation, consumer, etc. It is also the catalyst for communication, especially for brands. It is definitely the pulse of trendsetting, of decision making and mindset today.”

“Second, I would say is food habits and the health-conscious focus.” Adds Maynard, “How and what people consume, where they consume...the continued movement toward green, local or closer-to-home grown. Watch and be aware of what happens in the eateries and cafes. They are communal and built to have in close proxomity for a reason.” 

And with sense of frustration by being limited to three, he delivers, “The third would be Fitness. You have seen the movement toward crossfit, and cycling, and yoga. They are all there to create balance. It doesn’t mean these things won’t change but they give us insights. I've been working on that yoga myself, and dude, it's stressful getting zen when you don't know what you're doing.” We both laugh, "But I will get it!"

BROKEN HOMME

NEUW DENIM

When Liam and Daniel first started in the fashion business, they probably had the same sensibilities, just a little rougher around the edges. The first business was developed after the two brothers had spent the night ‘smashing beers’ and jotting down notes and lines on a napkin and calling it a business plan.

Their first business, an underwear line called Ginch Gonch, really got them exposed to everything from design to manufacturing, to sales and distribution, and marketing. These guys are relentlessly focused. Liam will gladly tell you stories of living in the office in some of the seediest parts of Vancouver.

They now have an office in Vancouver, and a showroom and space in Los Angeles. Not bad for ‘non-fashion’, fashion guys in their early 30’s.

I asked what success will look like for them and without hesitation Liam confidently said, “Look, our success will be judged by achievements and not assets alone.”

“We work seven days a week, freaking non-stop and we are in partnerships with great people who have the same inherent values we do. We really, like the people we work with. Everything we do is curated so at the end of the day we can say we are happy. Happiness will equal success.”

Adding with both disdain and bravado, “Every step along the way, every new venture we heard ‘you can’t do that, you’re crazy’. Well we did, we ARE nuts and we will continue to keep pushing ourselves, and our brands, and retail partners. We are bringing fucking cool designers, brands and businesses to new audiences. That's a big win!”  

Noble Gentlemen Trading is more than a distribution company for men’s clothing. As proven by Liam, they are gentlemen, businessmen, sharp as hell, most definitely driven – and probably worth smashing beers with – as long as you are wearing one of their brands and are not afraid of a little work.

RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS

Beer, Whiskey, Milk?
“Well in the beginning it was definitely whiskey,” he laughs a hearty Canadian laugh (not sure how to phonetically indicate that, but it will get you going too.) “Daniel and I went to one of our first trade shows in Edmonton. We were repping these high-end narrow ties from London. Most people were looking for Ed Hardy-esque designs! Now mind you, we didn’t have a booth, the show was small, literally no music or ambience in the show hall. Awful. We didn’t sell shit. Nothing.”

“We knew we needed to meet people, so we invited people to our suite. We had music cranking and people were like, ‘wtf?’ when they walked in. And then we asked them straight away - 'A shot of Jack Daniels or shotgun a beer?'” he really lets out a laugh. “We made a lot of noise, met a lot of people, didn’t sell anything at that show. But we did make connections and eventually sales months later. So it was whiskey!

Now, we will crush a few beers to get through the long hours. Light beer you know. We are not proud. Coors Light, Bud Light. Not choosy…although I will admit I tend to be on a roll with lemon water to get into my healthier self.” I can hear the grin.

Boots, Sneakers, or Loafers?
“Boots. And definitely from Broken Homme.

What’s the last music you listened to?
The Cramps, the pioneers of psychobilly and the like. I kind of like the underground in all genres from country to punk.”

Weights, Yoga, Natural?
“Lately it’s been yoga. My brother is back in 1980's pumping iron mode from time to time.” he laughs. "Hey, it's about being healthy."

What would Daniel say about you?
“I’m one of the hardest working people that you will ever meet.”

What can you say about your brother?
“His commitment to his passions is unsurpassed.”

  • Gil Melott is Publisher of JACKarcher and head of JACKarcher | JA+. Gil digs all things that haven't happened yet but probably should in music, fashion, art, film, design - you get the picture. Likes the influencers of all things NEXT and the strategies to get them there. Can appreciate great fried chicken, an amazing Malbec, a 1971 Ford Bronco, finding hot bands, and riding a bike any time. He spends a lot of time with his American Bulldog Chap who is the biggest influencer of what happens NEXT.