Jean-Victor Meyers and Louis Leboiteux / Ed Alcock / MYOP Diffusion

Not Your Father’s Cashmere: Exemplaire Debuts at Barneys New York

EXEMPLAIRE [eg-zuhm-plair]
noun: 1. one in a limited-edition series
adjective: 1. exemplary; 2. worthy of imitation; 3. appealing in every way

You may not have a cashmere and chinchilla sweatshirt on your list of fall essentials yet, but as soon as you lay eyes on Exemplaire, a new line of men’s cashmere basics at Barneys New York, you will.

Founded by longtime friends Jean-Victor Meyers and Louis Leboiteux, both 26, Exemplaire has a single mission: to inject modernity and innovation into the world of luxury cashmere. Both were tired of altering traditional cashmere sweaters into the slimmer fits they favored just to attain a balance of quality and style, so they figured why not make their own.

The result—a small collection of limited-edition pieces—reflects their own personal style: unostentatious yet luxe, fashion-conscious yet timeless. (It helps that they share the same taste; when they first met, they were dressed identically, right down to their matching sneakers.)

Each of their favorite pieces in the collection—the chinchilla sweatshirt and the biker-inspired Perfecto jacket—perfectly embody this Paris-based duo’s design philosophy: fashionable styles in unexpectedly luxurious knits and unobtrusive colors.

“We designed the first collection as the foundation for the next collection,” explains Jean-Victor. “The idea was to start with the fundamentals in basic colors first.” These colors veer toward the darker end of the spectrum—navy, grey, black—in keeping with their own style. (Both are in head-to-toe black when we meet, and when asked what colors they’ll introduce next, Louis jokes, “Light black, dark black…”)

There are two distinct advantages to this color palette. First, it’s versatile. “The idea was to have a collection that people could wear from noon to midnight,” says Jean-Victor. “You can go to work or to a museum; go have a drink or go to the theater; go to a nightclub or take a plane.” And second, it’s discreet. “They have a low profile; they’re very subtle,” Jean-Victor says of their pieces. “They are not for showing off.”

This idea of unostentatious luxury is perfectly embodied in their logo: Using an innovative process, a barely visible ‘X’ has been stitched onto their pieces and then injected with cashmere. Even though few people will know about this hidden cashmere ‘X,’ the Exemplaire customer walks around with the confidence that he is wearing something perfectly luxurious inside and out. (It reminds us of Steve Jobs demanding that the insides of his computers look as beautiful as their outsides even though few people ever see it.)

Fittingly, when asked what he imagines his ideal customer to be like, Jean-Victor answers, “Demanding.” In our experience, anyone who expects—and even looks forward to—demanding customers is supremely confident in the quality and singularity of his wares. This pair undoubtedly is: When describing their collection, they are unafraid to throw around words like “perfect” and “ideal.” In fact, its very name, Exemplaire, is meant to conjure this idea of perfection. “Basics done perfectly,” affirms Jean-Victor. “That is the spirit of the collection.”

And perfect they are: The leather is sourced from France and Italy, the cashmere from Nepal, India, Tibet, Mongolia and Pakistan; the details are stylish yet discreet—think thin leather strips at the shoulders and lambskin elbow patches; and the cashmere is dense and tightly knit.

“Ultimately,” concludes Jean-Victor, “it’s our generation’s idea of luxury.”

1. X12   2. X10   3. XYS6   4. X11   5. X14   6. X1   7. XYS4   8. X15   9. X3

Shop Exemplaire at | Read about Exemplaire in GQ

Images courtesy of Exemplaire.