Lost Lands X Coal: Coastal Cruising With Lost Lands Matt Noren

Words by Matthew Vanatta

Matt Noren escaped from the fashion mecca of New York City to start a clothing label in the naturally beautiful Pacific Northwest region. After a number of years building an independent label and curating a unique retail environment, and the stresses that come along with such an endeavor, Noren decided to switch gears and scale back his efforts. What transpired is a private label that Noren not only concepts but handcrafts himself. In a sea of fast fashion and mass production, Noren is creating small batch handmade apparel under his new label Lost Lands.

Inspired by the natural environment and a penchant for exploration Lost Lands has transcended the title of a brand and has become a moving narrative of adventure and self-discovery. Offering modern staples, Lost Lands is premium small batch clothing brand that is sure to become a favorite amongst outdoor and creative enthusiasts. On the eve of releasing a capsule collection with COAL Headwear we caught up with Noren to talk about the idea behind Lost Lands, handcrafting apparel, and what’s on the horizon for the label.

Lead Photo: Andrew Shepherd

How did the concept for Lost Lands initially come to fruition?

Lost Lands came together as I was taking a break in my professional life to spend as much time outdoors and on the road as I could. After working on a small brand for 5+ years and having to shutter it I was on the hunt for something to reignite my passion. I’ve always been fascinated by the literary concept of a Lost Land: something once inhabited but then abandoned only to be discovered later on by someone new. The lost city of Atlantis being the most well-known example of this. My “lost land” was the passion I once felt hand making clothing. I felt a spark and knew I was onto something when I combined this figurative lost land with my own passion for being out on the road discovering actual physical lost lands.

It seems like you were sort of on at a turning point personally and professionally when you launched the brand, was there ever a moment where you doubted the decision to move forward with another label?

I’ve never been too strong on doubt. Like most emotions, it’s fleeting and only thrives if we feed it. I try to see it, feel it, and let it go.

Photo: Andrew Shepherd

One thing I admire about Lost Lands and more so you as an individual is that you have the ability to create something from concept to completion, not many people can design and then actually cut & sew a jean jacket. Is the hands-on handcrafted approach important to the ethos of Lost Lands?

For me, great craft is a mastery of what it means to be human. It takes years of thought, intention, and care to learn a craft. As I produce things for Lost Lands, be it clothing, videos, trips or photography, I want to continue to reach up to the pinnacles of my ability to produce the best work I can. In that way, craftsmanship is one of if not the core fundamental pillar of Lost Lands.

It seems like there is an exploration theme taking shape in the brand narrative, what does exploring me to you both personally and creatively?

Exploring for me is the art of discovery. As I put Lost Lands together and work on growing it, I hope to discover new ideas and experiences at each turn. Whether that’s a new trip we’re taking; a new garment we’re producing or a new story we’re hoping to tell, I want it all to be an act of discovery for both myself and the end consumer.

Photo: Todd Gillman/COAL

You’ve recently worked on a project with COAL headwear, what’s the concept behind the collaboration?

I’ve been chatting with Coal for almost a year now to put together a small capsule collection based on our mutual love of being active participants in the outdoors of the PNW. Coal shares the same desire to produce high-quality products as Lost Lands does. While they generally produce on a much larger scale than we do, this was a great opportunity for Lost Lands to shift gears and work with a much more established brand but still maintain the small, workshop vibe. Plus we all love surfing so we were able to creatively develop some gear we’d all want in our surf kit.

And you guys did a trip together?

We took a rad trip down the 101 into Oregon in search of some good times, good pals and tasty waves. We were rewarded mightily.

Photo: Todd Gillman/Coal

Are future collaborations something you see as part of the ongoing story of Lost Lands?

I hope Lost Lands can work with as many different folks as possible. There’s not a greater way to push the envelope and develop radical ideas than by working with other great people. Strength in numbers till the end.

What do you envision for you and the label is there a long-term plan, or are you just creating day to day?

The long-term plan is to continue developing a strong design ethos around the act of discovery. While clothing will always be a fundamental aspect of our experience, I’d like to push our design ethos into not only other physical products such as furniture and interior design but also photography, video, film and other content creation.

Photo: Matt Noren

You’ve been in both the major fashion world and owned your own label, what is one piece of advice you’d give to someone who is aspiring to start their own clothing company?

It’s a wide landscape these days with so many different brands and it can feel pretty daunting some days to step out into it. For someone just starting or even a seasoned veteran, I’ll always recommend finding your own weirdness and sticking to it. It might take a while for it to get out there, but authenticity always wins in the end.

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