If necessity is the mother of invention, then boxer briefs gave birth to Moon & Son, a Brooklyn-based yoga line, just for guys. Founded by Stephen Watson, a former fashion director of the now shuttered Men’s Vogue, the company dedicates itself to dudes who would otherwise wear cargos—or Speedos—to hot yoga.
In the lobby of Brooklyn Yoga Project, Watson, a Gowanus resident, explained his quest for breathable, flexible shorts for males.
“I would see guys in nice shorts, and I would ask, ‘Where did you get those?’” Watson said. “They would say, ‘I don’t really know.’ Really, the only option out there is Lululemon, which is great, but I don’t think they make shorts just for yoga. I looked everywhere. I would find something that looked great, but it wasn’t stretchy enough or moisture wicking.”
In January, Watson established Moon & Son, an enterprise that would capture the imagination of pals, past and present.
As Watson designed the website, he knew he needed a model. “Conor Yates, my teacher, embodies attributes I would like to acquire,” Watson said. He’s very knowledgeable about yoga, so I asked him to be my model. My college roommate, Doug Young, was the photographer. Friends really went out of their way for me.”
Yates, about to teach, perked up at the front desk when asked about payment. He joked, “I get paid in clothes.” Wearing gray Moon & Son shorts and a bright blue sleeveless shirt, Yates, a lean blonde, displayed the logo, which is in a font worn by competitors in Rollerball, a sci-fi flick from the ‘70s.
“The logos change depending on the clothing,” Watson said. “I don’t really like logos. I didn’t put them in the shorts, which some people have said may be a mistake. If you spend $60-$65 on shorts, you want people to know it. It makes you part of a tribe. For the shirts, I liked the idea of a logo font based on a violent sport like Rollerball, the opposite of yoga. The label on the shirts is a black dot, the garment’s size, and “Brooklyn, New York.” I wanted the logo to look like what your mom would mark on your clothes, so you don’t get them mixed up at camp.”
Watson also sported Moon & Son gear. His black shirt featured a New Yorker cartoon: two men drinking heavily at a bar with the caption reading, “Boy, I’m going to pay for this tomorrow at yoga class.” Watson’s flat brim cap rocked a hologram sticker, a stylized Omm on the front, and an M & S on the side. A red bandana, which he pulled from his bag, was printed with constellations, a design by Bari Schlosser, his female pal from grammar school. He mentioned other products, including malas and books.
By this time, an intimate crowd had gathered in the lobby, peppering Watson with questions. Watson explained how he consulted Maker’s Row, a company that links manufacturers to American goods and services. While he wanted to produce in the United States—specifically in Brooklyn—the process was time-consuming. When he added notions like zippers and drawstrings, prices (and frustration) increased. For the drawstrings on the shorts, he wanted to tip the ends with aglets—otherwise known as shoelace coatings—which he brought to the factory in Greenpoint. The factory couldn’t put the aglets on the drawstrings without a special tool. Watson bought the tool from China and personally brought it to the factory.
“When it comes to opening a wallet, the USA label goes out the window for people,” Watson said.
“I’d like to see Moon & Son grow,” he said. “I’d like to work with studios and teachers who want to develop a style for men.”
Watson’s approach reveals his long history with fashion and his newer adherence to yoga. When Men’s Vogue shuttered in 2008, he found himself at a loss.
“I was living in the West Village,” he said. I read a New York magazine article about the "Best of New York." I noticed all the best things were in Brooklyn. I decided, ‘It’s time to go
to Brooklyn.’ Then, within a month of living in Gowanus, I got jumped by some kids. I didn’t even have a phone. I had $15 in my pocket, and they didn’t even take it. In 25 years of living in New York, it was the first time I had been mugged. It really shook me up. Then I was diagnosed with melanoma, all within the first month of living in Brooklyn. I started really getting into yoga, at Brooklyn Yoga Project, which really helped with my anxiety. There was something about having the door closed in a heated room—with the sweat and the exertion—that helped.”
With that, Yates started class. Watson entered the studio, decked-out in his own comfortable designs.