For his entire career, people have been talking about what Mark Wahlberg was wearing. In the early Nineties as the fresh-faced Marky Mark, he and his Calvin undies towered from billboards even as his music climbed Billboard. The Aughts, the leather and skin and Jennifer Aniston in Rock Star, and the 2010, satin trunks in the instant classic (and Oscar-winning) The Fighter. After decades of microscopic attention to what Mark Wahlberg is wearing (and especially what he didn’t wear), it makes sense that in July 2020, the 49-year-old did the obvious and launched his clothing brand, Municipal.
Wahlberg is no stranger to partnering with clothing brands for signature lines and one-offs; an Indian Motorcycles capsule with Fuelled Apparel and Jordan are just a few recent examples. But Municipal is distinct in that its genesis was not introduced by a company man or crafty agent but from an organic idea: What if men’s everyday wear could get them through an entire day?
With longtime producing partner Stephen Levinson (Entourage, Boardwalk Empire, and Ballers, among others) and former Callaway exec Harry Arnett, the trio was off. They weren’t so much jumping onto the athleisure bandwagon as much as deconstructing it. You want slim city styles a la Lululemon? Jump the border to Canada. Instead, its inspiration is decidedly American and urban: looser-fitting sweatshirts, upscaled mesh basketball shorts, and an uber-popular workout-slash-lifestyle T-shirt that features a tri-blend of cotton, modal (another natural fiber), and a touch of spandex for stretch. Of course, there are boxer briefs, whether in homage to one of its founder’s most iconic shots or or just because most men wear underwear every day. But it’s less middle-of-the-road indy coffee shop than it is the ends of the spectrum: humble diner or so-rich-it-doesn’t-matter late-night club.
“It’s the clothes you wear 95 percent of the time in the gym, at home, at work,” Arnett told Men’s Health in July. “It’s orientated around the inclination to move, literally and as a metaphor.”
Municipal feels good to move in. Its pieces are not the lightest, thinnest, most cutting-edge fabrics that required a chemistry degree to understand. But they’re the pieces you want to wear more often, the joggers you reach for on a Saturday, that broke-in pair of shorts you always wish wasn’t in the hamper right now, that bomber your girlfriend is always stealing. Comfortable wide waistbands, thicker materials, and more athletic fits get you through your work-from-home day just as readily as a cold WOD at your local CrossFit box.
Rather than following the flow of athleisure, Municipal has, so far, managed to bushwhack a different path. Somewhere between the comfortable sweats of Rocky and the sweat-less yoga pants at your nearest Whole Foods is where is resides. It’s Boston, Chicago, New York, and especially Los Angeles.
“I have a gift and I am trying to not be selfish about it but to use it,” Wahlberg’s character, Dirk Diggler, says in Boogie Nights. Whether the actor himself was predestined for his successful life as an actor, producer, and now clothier, or whether it’s (most likely) the product of hard work, he’s making a statement with Municipal. We’re all watching.