Interview with Pete Macnee - Adsum NYC

For the next instalment of View from the Fells we've got an interview with the founder of one of our favourite brands here at The Northern Fells. We managed to spend half an hour with Pete Macnee of Adsum NYC to learn more about what goes into creating their great clothes.

Pete, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Can we get started by just telling us a bit about what you do?

I’m the Founder and Creative Director of Adsum. I concentrate on designing, development and sales.

How did you get started?

It started with a jacket I wanted to make. I was working with Mark McNairy at the time and I used a lot of his production connections in NYC to experiment with making the jacket I had in my head. It snowballed from there.

What does your average day look like? 

I’m an early riser. I exercise first thing in the morning and eat the same thing for breakfast every day (granola) before I head into the office. Usually we all chat for about 45 minutes before we jump into things. There is a lot of communication work that has to get done in the mornings. Every day we have a list of set tasks that need to be taken care of but we have to stay flexible and take care of problems ​as they arise. 

What drew you to set up Adsum and what’s the ethos?

It’s always been a dream of mine to make clothing that represents the lifestyle I live in NYC and growing up in Canada. That’s pretty much the ethos of Adsum.

What’s your favourite part about being involved in Adsum?

I like the guys I work with and how we pave our own path. We have the freedom to create what we want from scratch.

How does the outdoors inspire what you do?

It’s a big part of my life. Whether it’s playing soccer in a New York City park, hiking upstate on the weekend or skiing Hunter Mountain. I guess I see “fashion” in these places. Instead of focusing on what’s happening on runways I find my inspiration from the outdoors and average people. 

Why do you think there’s been a huge revival in understanding where and how things are made?

​It might not be a revival as much as there being customers who care about the clothing they wear. It’s more than just a piece of clothing. Knowing where/ how your clothing is made is satisfying ​and can give you comfort for the price you pay for something because you understand the craft and artisanship behind it. At Adsum we tend to seek out factories that specialise in making certain pieces of clothing. For instance, one of our outerwear manufacturers worked with Patagonia, Marmot and Lowe Alpine in the 90’s so they really understand the development and manufacturing process in outerwear. We end up being a part of the manufacturers story and so does our customer.

How did your career path evolve to being a Owner// Creative Director of Adsum?

I came out of University thinking I had to pursue a career in sales, marketing or advertising. I was ​a ​bit unsure of what I wanted to do. After working for a bank for a couple years I moved to NYC to get involved in the fashion industry. Getting a job in the industry is like pulling teeth. I interned for Bottega Veneta, Derek Lam, Ermenegildo Zegna, WESC, Todd Snyder and finally landed at Billionaire Boys Club with a paid development job. I met Mark McNairy while I was at BBC, which led to some design/development opportunities with Mark and Woolrich. There came a point when I knew that I wanted to create my own brand and the timing was right so I went for it. 

What do you think of the fashion relationship between the UK and US?

I can’t speak for the UK but I know that you guys inspire me. One of my favourite cities in the world is London. Some of the best music and sports come from the UK. I’m influenced by football culture past and present. 

When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be like my brother Dave.

What are you currently working on?

We are always juggling three seasons. Right now we’re selling FW16, manufacturing SS17 and designing FW17. 

How do you source your inspiration?

​Observing what is in front of us and whatever speaks to us when we go to design a collection.  

Our last collection’s inspiration came from an article I read in Outdoor Magazine about a fisherman who guided on the Deschute River in Oregon. 

It’s great having a jump off​ point for a collection and something you can circle back to to help direct design decisions

Does any music particularly inspire your work? 

We all listen to music while we get things done in the office. I only listen to melodies in songs so I don’t pull a lot of literal inspiration from music.

Do any films inspire your work?

Not yet. Forrest Gump had a few good outfits. 

What have you got coming up/ future projects?

​We are really excited about ​the FW17 collection. It feels like the best work we've done so far.​ We’re bonding some interesting fabrics for the collection. We’ll have a few more UK accounts for the SS17 season so you’ll be hearing and seeing more of us. 

Where are your favourite places in NYC?

LES - the first place I lived when I moved to the city. It’s changed a lot but still full of good places to shop, eat and drink.

Macarren Park – It’s where I jog in the mornings.

Williamsburg - It’s where I live and work​. 

When did you first decide you wanted to get into fashion?

I have always been into fashion. It’s more recently, around 6 years ago, that I decided to completely dedicate myself to it.

Favourite city to visit and why?

Tokyo – Food and shopping.

Vancouver – Family and skiing.

Which is your favourite item in the current collection?

Alpine Vest. I’ll be wearing it for the rest of my life.

Favourite brand on The Northern Fells Clothing Co (except for Adsum?)

Champion. I’ve got a small collection of poly cotton hoodies.

What 3 things can’t you live without?



Fresh pair of boxers 

Favourite item in your wardrobe? 

My Adsum denim prototype. We are producing a small run of jeans in Japan. 14oz denim with all the bells and whistles you should expect on a proper pair of jeans.  

What music are you currently listening to?

Take a listen.

Best bit of life advice?

Enjoy it.