Style Profiles. In honor of our twice-a-year Men’s Shop Catalog dropping this month, we decided to profile 6 real men of style and substance. Today, midwestern menswear engineer Todd Snyder.
If the phrase “fashion designer” sounds like someone you could never relate to—consider Todd Snyder. Born and raised in Iowa. Dropped out of architecture school (not enough girls in the class). Loves Newman and Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And one of the nicest guys you can ever hope to meet.
Having paid dues for 20 years at some of the best menswear powerhouses in the biz (Ralph Lauren, amongst other)—before quitting a plush job in order to start his own business, just in time for the recession to hit—we figured Snyder knows a thing or two about workplace decorum. In the video above, and the choice words of wisdom below, he delineates what to wear and how to act at the office—and why there are more important things in life than work.
ART x INDUSTRY. “My father was an engineer. My mother was an artist. So I always had this kind of push-pull on art and building things, and that was always the thing that I think really kind of helped me become who I am.”
MEN AT WORK. “My father had his own company. He was a civil engineer in Iowa. I worked summers on the survey crew, which would go out and do the layouts for bridges and roads. Then I moved into the office, where I started working as a draftsman. That’s where I really fell in love with the more technical aspects of building something.”
THE SCIENCE OF STYLE. “In college, I worked at this men’s shop called Badowers, in Des Moines. That’s where I learned how to sew and alter garments. I wanted to learn from the ground up how to make something—to understand the mechanics that go into it.”
HAND CRAFTED. “It’s rewarding to see something you did, and step back and say, ‘Wow, I did that.’ I used to build furniture sometimes…I did all of this molding in here [pointing to the office wall]…When I first moved here to New York, I was making all my own shirts.”
MADE IN THE USA. “For our new line of Todd Snyder suiting, we collaborated with Southwick, a factory in Massachusetts. They’ve been in the business over 100 years. They traditionally made jackets my father or grandfather would wear. Now, you’re starting to see a younger generation of guys wanting to know about it, wanting to dress like gentlemen—which is kind of rebellious in a way.”
THE FIRST THING YOU NEED. “A perfect-fitting navy suit. You can wear it with jeans on a date. Wear it as a suit to a wedding. You can wear a dark tie and be very sophisticated at night. Make sure the sleeves aren’t too long, so you can see a little bit of cuff. Those little details make a huge difference.”
FROM THE GROUND UP. “Buy good shoes. Look at them as an investment. Get yourself a great pair of wingtips, desert boots, and sneakers, and you can wear them with anything.”
BUILDING A WARDROBE. “I’ve always looked at fashion similar to architecture, and it always starts with a great foundation—great jeans, great chinos, a great suit, great oxford, sweatshirt, and so on. As long as you have those pieces, it’s really easy to make outfits.”
WORDS TO LIVE BY. “I talk to a lot of students, and they always ask me, “What’s your advice?” And I’ve always said, “Work hard and be nice.” It’s two simple things. But you’d be amazed at how many people screw that up.”
WORK/LIFE BALANCE. “I have two daughters. Some might disagree, but having kids kind of keeps me sane. Going home and just seeing them changes my whole [perspective]. If I had a long day, going home, seeing their faces, you forget about it instantly.”
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