When Jay-Z wears your stuff, you know you’re doing something right. But the proof is in the pudding—here are the five Baldwin styles we have in-stock for Spring; try on a pair and see for yourself why GQ called Mr. Baldwin “the high priest of low-key gear.”
Hoping for a glimpse inside Baldwin’s creative process, we asked the designer to name a few current influences. His responses, exclusive to Men’s Shop Daily, are below. (Check out more on the brand’s Instagram feed, @Baldwin).
[Clockwise from top left]:
1. Mammoth Mountain, CA. “My first visit to Mammoth was this March, and I hit the powder trip of the year. My love for the sport led me into the clothing industry. Living in Kansas City, a good pow day is few and far between. This was an epic trip.”
2. DJ’ing the 2012 MLB All-Star Game. “I was asked to DJ the All-Star Game this last year, so I brought a good friend and musician, Miles Bonny, to play with me. A random and super cool highlight of last year.”
3. When Radiohead Played KC. “Radiohead has been on constant rotation for me since high school. They played a show in Kansas City last year, and I was stoked to meet them in our shop. They got jeans, and I got to check them out live for the first time. Amazing show.”
4. Farnsworth House / Lego Architecture Series. “Modern architecture and design has been a core foundation of the brand’s roots since the beginning. I have two boys, ages 5 and 7. Lego mania has taken over the Baldwin home. It’s super rad having relevant, cool things to do with your kids.”
5. GQ Best New Menswear Designer 2013. “This year started off with an amazing honor. I’m very blessed to be considered amongst the industry’s top talent. The future is bright.”
Naked & Famous Denim sources its fabrics only in Japan, at prestigious mills steeped in heritage and renowned for craftsmanship—and manufactures its jeans only in the brand’s homeland of Canada, on high-quality machinery run by well-trained staff.
The result is top-shelf, no-nonsense jeans, at a great price, for veteran denim-heads and newcomers alike. (Plus some freaky denim experiments—more on that later.)
The other result is that, after countless trips from Canada to Japan and back, Naked & Famous founder Brandon Svarc and team have become connoisseurs of both nations’ cultures. Below are Svarc’s travel tips (warnings?) for the next time you’re up North—or far East.
I. SPORTS Japan: Baseball. “We attended a Climax Series (that’s what they call Playoffs) in Tokyo on our last visit, and it was so much fun. The cheering is orderly and organized—it’s highly different from North-American fans. At the 7th-inning stretch, everyone simultaneously launches blue balloons in the air! It’s quite a sight.” Canada: Hockey. “Not shockingly, we love hockey. We love to play on ice, roller and floor. Funny enough, we actually once made denim-and-leather baseball mitts, so I guess the next sports creation from our brand should be denim-covered hockey gauntlets.”
II. FOOD Japan: Udon. “Okayama is where we buy our denim fabric, and there are many famous Udon restaurants that we hit up each time we visit. I prefer hot Udon with shrimp tempura. Mmm.” Canada: Poutine. “If you ever visit Montreal, you are not allowed to leave before eating poutine! It’s french fries with squeaky cheese curds and gravy poured on top! Also mmm.”
III. BOOZE Japan: Habushu. “It’s this crazy alcohol from Okinawa, Japan, that contains a venomous cobra inside the bottle! We have three bottles in our office. The Japanese say it makes your bamboo stiff.” Canada: Ice Wine. “To be honest, this isn’t our personal favorite to drink, but it is our favorite gift to bring each time we visit Japan. It’s made in Canada, and creating a wine out of frozen grapes makes a great story to tell.”
IV. ADULT ENTERTAINMENT Japan: Hostess Clubs. “Japanese adult clubs aren’t what you might think. In fact, there is no nudity allowed. Fabric suppliers love taking us to these places where cute Japanese girls sit and pour your drinks and talk to you about life, and anything really. You pay by the hour, but it’s all-you-can-drink.” Canada: Danse Contact. “Montreal is quite famous for its gentleman’s clubs. It’s said that we have more than Vegas! Personally, we only attend these places if one of our friends is having a bachelor party, but the veterans know that the best clubs to visit are the ones that say ‘Danse Contact’ in the window, which means it’s 100% legal to…” [Ed. note: The rest of this sentence omitted for the sake of decency.]
V. SCENERY Japan: Kojima Hotel View. “We always stay at the same hotel in Kojima, Japan, which is a beautiful city in the countryside near Okayama, where there are many fabric mills and denim companies. There is a stunning view of the Great Seto Bridge, which is the longest two-tiered bridge system in the world.” Canada: Whistler Blackcomb. “While in Whistler, BC, a few years ago, I ventured to the top of the giant Blackcomb mountain glacier. It took like three or four chairlifts and two buses to get there! But once at the top, it was one of the most spectacular views I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life.”
Coming Soon from Naked & Famous. Here’s the brand’s founder Brandon Svarc talking up the styles we’ll carry at the Nordstrom Men’s Shop this coming spring.
Advanced Color-Change Technology. Did he say ‘thermo-chromic’? Here they are in action.
The Everest of Denim. Those freaky denim experiments we mentioned earlier? Here’s one from previous seasons: jeans so thick, they can stand up on their own. Watch to hear the method behind Svarc’s madness.
[Top grid of photos courtesy of the official Naked & Famous Denim Instagram feed: @NFDenim. Videos courtesy of the brand's official YouTube channel, and the Montreal Gazette. Additional photos via Wikipedia, except as noted here: Japanese baseball fans via; Demi Moore from Striptease movie poster courtesy of Castle Rock Entertainment, Lobell/Bergman Productions, Columbia Pictures; Great Seto Bridge via; Whistler Blackcomb via. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]
Extraterrestrial substances. Hinged exoskeletons. A mad scientist’s lab. The out-there allegories that runway critics dreamt up to describe theZ Zegna Autumn/Winter 2013 men’s collection are highly imaginative—and quite fitting. The brand (a forward-thinking offshoot of 100-year-old fabric artisans and menswear masters Ermenegildo Zegna) has tactile experimentation woven into its DNA.
What makes Z Zegna’s vision of next season all the more intriguing, though, is a fusion of outer limits with earthly antiquity, as innovative fabric concoctions and construction techniques are grounded by inspirations randging from 17th-century masterpieces to harsh Alpine landscapes.
Z Zegna’s Creative Director, Mr. Paul Surridge, was kind enough to speak with us in the days following the brand’s recent runway presentation in Milan. Read on to learn how space-age alpaca, nomadic pilgrims, and the Mayan calendar played into one of FW13′s most striking collections.
MEN’S SHOP DAILY: The collection is titled The Urban Wanderer Meets the Great Outdoors. What outdoor locales inspire you the most? PAUL SURRIDGE:“Well, I grew up in the country, and being English, I know a bit about cold weather, windy weather, and protection from the elements. My team and I were inspired by landscape photography, in particular the work of Olaf Unverzart. It’s mountains, glaciers, these vast, corroding landscapes. I mean, I’m always inspired by nature—it’s something that’s so much bigger than man himself. Looking at the recent activities around the world, one thing you cannot control is nature.”
Would you say this is clothing for the end of the world? “I’m sorry, the end of the world? [Laughs.] Well you know, it’s funny—we also referenced The Road, the film based on the Cormac McCarthy novel. There’s a moment in the film where they’re arguing over one shoe. I quite like the fact that at the end of the world, all the things you throw away, things you have no value for on a daily basis, suddenly become very valuable. There was even a film about the end of the Mayan calendar that came up—obviously we didn’t write that in the press notes, because we would seem like religious fanatics [laughs]—but it was not so much about the end of the world, and more about this kind of shift. What people expect from clothing now has started to change. It’s about giving someone value for their money, and giving them something to invest in.”
The Road is fiction—at least for now. How do you bring things back to reality?
“We looked at traditional hiking and rambling wear—things that people wore to be comfortable while being active. When you’re dressed to perform, to do something, it’s functional and practical. It’s no longer about fashion, it’s about necessity, and it’s about the production of the garment.
“We were also inspired by nomadism, and early religious paintings of pilgrims. Looking at the way people used to travel, they couldn’t just step into a car—it was more like two weeks on horseback. I wanted this kind of medieval approach that referenced a time in which no one today has life experience—when people had very little, but what they had, had to have a purpose. They would own one single cup, for example, which would be multi-functional. This idea of having very few things that have to perform and function was my way of moving away from minimalism, and into a kind of practicalism.”
— — —
[Caravaggio's Saint Jerome Writing, circa 1605.]
PART II. STROKES OF GENIUS
What drew you to the works of Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio [1571–1610]?
“I like the sense of drama you get from Caravaggio’s paintings, and the sense of power. And I like that the stars of his paintings were often people from the street, rather than princes, and kings, and dukes. They were very much like real people, who were being depicted in their normal way of life, or quite painful depictions of real life.”
[Caravaggio's Portrait of Pope Urban VIII, date unknown.]
And how did those inspirations manifest in the collection?
There were a few paintings in particular. One was more about the composition and the segmentation of the body, so you’ll notice in the show there was this kind of belted-jacket bodice, and the tunics with the big white sleeves. Other paintings inspired the color palette. I wanted to reduce the color down from past seasons, but not present a black collection, which felt kind of wrong. So it’s about taking real pigment color—the actual color from pigment itself, before the colors become contaminated—natural color that’s kind of permeated in this sequence of darker tones, and then these highlights of cadmium red and the white shirts.”
[Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofernes, circa 1598.]
Do you have favorite items within the collection, or do you look at it more as a whole?
“There are always things that stand out personally. The things I like, more often than not, are the ones that are the most painful to get right [laughs]. But one of my favorite looks was the navy tabard* [below, center] with a white shirt, and a kind of matelassé pant. I like the simplicity of the garment. It’s a key look, and I think a new proportion. A lot of people have picked up on it in reviews—it’s kind of a heraldic, medieval simplicity, but made modern.
“One of the things that people picked up on after the show, was that it felt kind of menacing, or medieval, or dramatic, but without being too poetic. And that’s something that I didn’t want the collection to be—dandy, or romantic. I wanted it to have this historical element, but without being costume.”
[*Tabard: a sleeveless jacket consisting only of front and back pieces with a hole for the head. historical: a coarse garment of this kind as the outer dress of medieval peasants and clerics, or worn as a surcoat over armor.]
— — —
PART III. A FABRICATED FUTURE
Ermenegildo Zegna was founded in 1910 as a high-end fabric supplier. How does that history play into your work today? “One thing that I’m very careful about is the fabric content, because for me, that’s how you ‘Zegna-fy’ everything. At the starting point of each collection, it’s crucial to ask, What can we do with the brand to keep to the Zegna tradition? And for me, the biggest sort of safety net is fabric. I work with our fabric directors to create fabrics—this season in particular, we used an Agnona fabric, which was a shearling-looking alpaca wool mix. It was actually a jersey construction that looked like shearling.”
How else do new innovations play into the collection?
“I’m very keen to make Z Zegna like a forum for technology. For me, it’s not an entry into the Zegna world, it’s a brand by itself. Technology is something that always inspires me anyway, be it in product design, or architecture or other disciplines. In fashion, you see it a lot in sportswear, but it’s kind of lacking in contemporary tailoring. We’ve really embraced the technology and manufacturing side lately—heat-sealing, giving things a permanence and durability, almost like a protective element.”
[The man himself: Z Zegna Creative Director, Mr. Paul Surridge.]
How much does your own personal style affect your design process?
“I find that it becomes stale when you design with only yourself in mind. For me, the personal side is really the sensibility of the color, and the manipulation of the fabric. Taking classic matter, and putting a new spin on it. And I don’t think it’s classic with a twist—it’s more concept than that. It’s more like taking wool, and then taking the yarn from the knitwear to create pinstripes. Doing the textures. Using different forms of technology to create an entirely new product. It’s something I’ve done throughout my career, but at this show in particular, it surfaced in a way that felt very personal… I think that’s what made this collection special.”
[First image: Front row at the show, photo by our Men's Designer Buyer, Jorge Valls. Backstage and runway images: Courtesy of Z Zegna. Caravaggio paintings: via Wikipedia. Landscape photographs by Olaf Unverzart.]
In the spirit of the holidays, we asked some of our favorite brands and designers a simple question with a rarely simple answer: What’s you favorite gift? Answers ranged from prized possessions they’ve received, to a signature item to give, to less-tangible ‘gifts’ that can’t be bought. Though they vary wildly, the answers below all have one thing in common: They give an unmistakable look into each brand’s ethos. Scroll down to get inside the minds of America’s best designers (and click the links to start deciding how to spend that Nordstrom Gift Card that Grandma gave you).
Heavy Medals from Legendary Friends. “My favorite gifts are from my friends Jimmy Page and Alice Cooper, who gave me their gold and platinum record awards, respectively. These are framed in my office and commemorate 500,000 and 1 million copies of albums sold—a phenomenal achievement that I get to hang on my wall and see every day.” —John Varvatos
Bulls Tickets, 1989. “The best gift I ever received came from my sister: my niece Isabella. The second-best I got from my parents in 1989 for Christmas: Two tickets to see Michael Jordan play at Chicago Stadium with my dad. I was 10. Jordan scored 42 points against the Golden State Warriors; I’ll never forget how loud it was when they announced his entrance.” —Andy Dunn of Bonobos
A Bronzed Artifact. “This is a gift I received from Michael Stipe after we collaborated on an art project of his. He took a Diana/Lomo camera (similar quality to lighting filters used on Instagram) and cast it in bronze. I love the idea of low/high art and technology. A low-tech, cheap plastic camera, immortalized in bronze. This gift I will have and appreciate forever.” —Rogan Gregory of Rogan
A Family Tree. “My favorite thing about the holidays is the huge tree we do every year. My wife is a Christmas ornament freak, so we load it down with white lights and tons of ornaments. My favorites are the homemade ones the children make. We decorate with all-natural clippings of pine, cedar, boxwood, holly and magnolia—using fresh keeps things simple. Most important is to relax and enjoy the family and special time of year.” —Billy Reid
Iowa’s Best-Kept Secret. “All of my friends and family get a bottle of Templeton Rye, a small-batch rye whiskey based on a Prohibition-era recipe that was made in Templeton, Iowa. Since I’m from Iowa, the connection is obvious—and there’s no better way to warm up a cold, holiday night than with a nice glass of Templeton.” —Todd Snyder
The Original Hand-Held Device. “Does this really need any explanation as to why it’s my favorite? I was 10. It’s a Game Boy. Nuff said.” —Sam Shipley of Shipley & Halmos
Christmas in Jamaica. “Last week, my wife treated me to a one-week getaway in Jamaica as my early Xmas gift. We stayed at a gorgeous private villa (Round Hill) overlooking the sea and Montego Bay. The gift included tennis lessons—definitely the best gift ever. The only downside is that now I have to treat her to something even more special!” —Dexter Peart of WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie
Late-’80s Pentax 67 Medium Format with Super Takumar 75mm 1:4.5 Lens. “Growing up, the Pentax 6×7 or 67 was one of the cameras I always lusted after but was never able to afford. With the advent of digital, these cameras are now extremely good value as vintage, in comparison to their original prices. I had been watching this camera on eBay as a ‘buy now’ option for a while, but not biting the bullet on it, and obviously boring my wife to death about it—so much so, that without my knowledge, she bout it for me. So I ended up getting one of my favorite presents and fulfilling a childhood dream at the same time.” —Cuan Hanly of Jack Spade
One-of-a-Kind Artwork. [It's a tie. Left]: “White tiger…on a purple crystal…in fog…in space…on a collector’s plate…framed. The best part is the warning on the back that it ‘may poison food.’ I got it from a member of our creative team a few years ago—probably in an attempt to actually poison me.” [Right]: “The photo of a naked girl sitting in the woods with a unicorn is also in the running. Have you ever had a photo shoot with a unicorn? Those things never sit still. And they demand giant dressing rooms, and green M&Ms, and are total divas. They really just aren’t worth dealing with.” —Todd Masters of Toddland
Jeans—the quintessential symbol of American style, and yet with thousands of iterations around the world and over the past 139 years, it all comes down to two factors: the fit and the wash. California-based brand AG Jeans is widely regarded as a master of both.
Melding design expertise with technical ingenuity, the brand was founded in 2000 when Adriano Goldschmied, a legend among European denim brands like Diesel, teamed up with denim manufacturing veteran Yul Ku. The elder Ku’s son, Sam, joined the company in 2001 straight out of college. After getting his start in the research and development lab, Sam worked his way up through the ranks, eventually being awarded the title of Creative Director in 2008. (Goldschmied, who previously held that role, left the company in ’04.)
Now the visionary behind this classic-slash-cutting-edge denim empire, the younger Ku (who still works alongside his dad) was kind enough to answer a few of our questions. Read the interview below, and be sure to shop the latest from AG Jeans.
1. Your dad, Yul Ku, has played a key role in the denim industry for a long time now—do you have memories of this from growing up?
“My father has been in the apparel business for over 35 years, so I remember him working a lot, and I also remember him bringing home jeans for the family. Going to visit him at work as a child was interesting, because seeing the process is really overwhelming, especially as a kid.”
2. What are your feelings on being part of the ‘family business’? Did you have any reservations about following in those footsteps?
“Being part of a family business is great. A big part of running a business is being able to trust your colleagues around you, and it’s great to be working alongside family members that you trust. I didn’t resist falling into the family business. I thought it’d be a great opportunity for me, and I loved the apparel business immediately.”
3. Although AG caters to a wide range of customers, including a more classic guy, the company is known for pioneering new materials and techniques. What are some experimental methods that have become standard practice?
“AG is known throughout the industry as a brand that is cutting-edge in terms of our innovative ways of making jeans. One of our newest innovations is implementing laser-burning onto our jeans, which is used to create abrasions and burn indigo off the surface. Using art files, we can burn everything from whiskers, holes, and even patterns onto the product. We also use an ozone-generating machine that is used to wash down the color, and to reduce back-staining [leftover indigo residue that could alter the finish]. Our biggest innovation is the process we use to make our ‘AG-ed Vintage’ jeans, which is a closely guarded secret that I can’t share with you now!”
4. What are 3 of your current favorites from AG Jeans?
AG Jeans ‘Matchbox’ Slim Straight Leg Jeans in 3 Year Coated. “This is a very interesting fabric. It’s a denim from Italy with a blue pigment coating on top. The result is a blue denim that is a very saturated blue, and it almost looks like a non-denim. It has a little bit of stretch, so that the wearer will have the added benefit of comfort. We’ve done the ‘AG-ed’ finish on the jeans here, with a slight amount of wear, as if it’s just starting to break in.” (shop this style)
AG Jeans ‘Matchbox’ in Coated Black. “These jeans are our popular Matchbox cut, which is a great slim, straight leg shape. These are your perfect pair of black jeans. They are over-dyed black, and then coated on top, which gives the jeans that rich, super-black color. Every guy should have this black jean in his closet.” (shop this style)
AG Jeans ‘Matchbox’ in Tweed Grey. A great denim alternative. They can be worn to the office or worn going out. A very versatile pair of jeans done in a grey tweed yarn-dye fabrication.” (shop this style)
5. We hear a lot from our Men’s team here at Nordstrom about the AG Protégé being one of our most popular fits. Why do you think so many guys enjoy it?
“The Protégé is popular because it is a very easy cut to wear. It fits almost everybody, and can be worn everywhere. It’s not too slim, and not too loose. The Protégé is a solid straight-leg, which every guy needs.” (shop this style)
6. What’s an average ‘day at the office’ like for you?
“Things move so quickly here that there is no average day in the office—but generally, my day involves lots of meetings. I’ll have meetings with our design team to go over new developments, a meeting to go over e-commerce strategies, then maybe some meetings that involve marketing, PR, and advertising. My role at AG encompasses pretty much everything AG, and every day is very different.”
7. Could you touch on AG Jeans’ vertical manufacturing model, and your feelings about the importance of ‘Made in the USA’?
“One of our biggest advantages at AG is that we’re backed by a fully vertical jeans manufacturing company, Koos Manufacturing, Inc., based in South Gate, California, where we produce jeans from start to finish, all under one roof. Our competitors are at a disadvantage because they have to work with separate cutting factories, then send the product to a different sewing facility, then transport the product to a different wash house. The product changes hands from vendor to vendor, and you lose a large amount of quality and control. For us, everything from cutting to sewing to laundry and finishing is done here. We are able to keep a close eye on our production, and our designers are able to work with our technicians very closely to design and create the amazing product that we love.”
8. What are some of the job titles of your denim artisans, and what exactly do their jobs entail?
“Due to AG’s success these days, there are lots of companies and headhunters looking to poach employees from our team. The only thing I’ll say is that we have a great team that is creating great design!”
The Seattle Music Project, a photography exhibit in the Men’s Shop at our flagship Downtown Seattle store, is still open through this weekend.
[UPDATE: The exhibit has been extended through October.]
Although it encompasses Northwest musicians (and photographers) from the 1960s through today, the exhibit—featuring hundreds of photos, songs, posters, flyers, backstage passes and more—was curated by local photographer Lance Mercer, whose career came into focus during the early-’90s (don’t call it grunge) Seattle music scene.
We talked with Mercer about the exhibit, his inspirations, and why perfection—and politeness—are overrated.
MEN’S SHOP DAILY: What was your role in the Seattle Music Project exhibit, and how did it all come about?
LANCE MERCER: “Pete Nordstrom and I had coffee last winter…He wanted to have a photo exhibit in the store [incorporating] Seattle music. It was more of a grunge, ’90s vibe at first, but I was really inspired by this photo by Jini Dellaccio, who’s a big hero of mine. She shot all the early garage stuff. I started looking at her photo of the Sonics, the very iconic shot of them on the beach, and the clothes they’re wearing are very pertinent to today: the Beatle boots, the Mod [look], the peacoats and parkas.
“So the idea became: Let’s cover the last five decades of Northwest music, as it relates to fashion. I mean, Nordstrom is a Seattle landmark. I used to hang out at the [Nordstrom] coffee shop in the ’80s, with guys from Pearl Jam, Mother Love Bone…Bands have shopped at Nordstrom forever. Even Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart—they bought a lot of those clothes, like the whole gypsy look from their Little Queen era, at Nordstrom.
“Thanks to the Nordstrom creative team, we brainstormed and kept building on this idea—with ephemera, and music, and photography, and flyers—all this stuff. The process incorporated the things that I love: Music, photography, the people in Seattle, the connections I’ve made over the last 25-30 years—I was able to really put all those things to use. And man, I love going through people’s archives…That was kind of my job over the last six or seven months, just gathering and acquiring all this amazing content—and I love it.”
MEN’S SHOP DAILY: How did you get started in photography?
LANCE MERCER: “I started going to shows when I was about 13. I was mainly going to punk shows, and the punk scene in Seattle at the time, around 1980 or ’81, was really small.
“The energy I was getting from those shows was something that I really latched onto, and one thing that really changed the course of my whole career path was the discovery of the Ramones, the Clash—and the photography that went along with it: Abrasive, not technically proficient, but very fitting [to that style of music]. I realized I didn’t have to be Ansel Adams to capture photography the way that I wanted to.
“The cover of London Calling by the Clash [photographed by Pennie Smith] had a huge impact on me—it was out of focus, it was just weird, but it captured the essence of that band. It’s very rare when that happens, when somebody can look at a photo and get that same feeling, like they were there.
“And when I was going to all these shows, that’s what I was trying to capture by taking photos: the feeling of being there. Still to this day, throughout my career, I’m still trying to capture that. I don’t think I’ve ever perfected it, and that’s one thing that keeps me going.”
MEN’S SHOP DAILY: When did you realize that doing what you loved—shooting shows, hanging out with bands—could become a career?
LANCE MERCER: “Just continuing what I was already doing, I became friends with some of the guys in Green River, Malfunkshun…and as they pursued their careers, I kind of just tagged along. As they gained notoriety and went on to Mother Love Bone, and eventually Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and all these things, I was kind of along for the ride.
“I would say it was definitely right place, right time, but also being pretty driven. I wanted to be Annie Leibovitz shooting the Stones, I wanted to be Robert Frank documenting people and events. It all kind of accumulated to being able to go on tour with Pearl Jam—just as a friend, and eventually becoming, for lack of a better term, their official photographer. That was ’91 or ’92, and I’ve been self-employed as a photographer ever since.”
MEN’S SHOP DAILY: What makes Seattle a special place for music?
LANCE MERCER: “Since we were up here in the corner, and [touring bands] never came up here, we kind of created our own scene. There was some stuff here that was not happening anywhere else, and you could just kind of feel it. It’s been said, it’s cliche, but the weather definitely had a big influence on it—dark days, long winters, people locking themselves in the basement—and the music had that same vibe.
“Even the Sonics and the Wailers, and the old photos I’ve been looking at, are very representational of Seattle. It can be dark and gloomy here. Having traveled a lot, I know every scene has had their own experience based on where they’re from, and their own uniqueness—Athens, Minneapolis, there are very distinct sounds that come from there. And I think a lot of this kind of slowed-down, heavier music was a result of the vibe here in Seattle.”
MEN’S SHOP DAILY: What’s been your most memorable music experience, as a fan?
LANCE MERCER: “Just being the impressionable teenager that I was, the Ramones at Eagles Auditorium, in like ’84. The Damned. Tom Waits at the 5th Avenue Theater. Those are pretty unforgettable experiences.
“And Iggy Pop at the Showbox, way back in the day. Everything right now is really safe—thank you, and we’re glad to be here, and want to thank the promoter and all these people—but at that show, Iggy Pop came out and scared the crap out of me, to the point where I was frozen and couldn’t move, and had to stay and watch the rest to see what the hell was going to happen. Throwing the mic stand out, antagonizing the crowd. That danger level, I haven’t seen since—and I want that. It’s a feeling. It doesn’t have to make you feel good. So that really changed some perspective for me.”
MEN’S SHOP DAILY: You’ve branched out over the years to many kinds of photography—but would you say shooting live shows is still your favorite?
LANCE MERCER: “Absolutely. I’m a little older, so I don’t have the physical capacity I used to. I mean you have to remember that shooting live back in the ’90s was like being a war photographer. I had the experience of being in punk clubs, being right up front, getting slammed around—but shooting festivals like Lollapalooza, or the Endfest, I mean—yeah, it was insane.
“But once that kind of synergy between the audience and the band ‘clicks’—people who play in bands know that feeling, and people who are at shows—it’s kind of unexplainable, and trying to capture it with photography is not easy. There’s nothing like it.”
VIEW PREVIOUS POSTS FROM
THE SEATTLE MUSIC PROJECT: 1960s|1970s
The Seattle Music Project is an exhibit of photos and ephemera commemorating five decades of Northwest music. Curated by renowned local photographer Lance Mercer, the exhibit resides in the Men’s Shop of our Downtown Seattle store, now through the end of October.
[Additional photos above by Charles Peterson. Individuals featured do not endorse Nordstrom.]