Anthony Thomas Melillo on Working at Esquire, Normcore and Sexy Suiting
Many staples of the modern outfit are shared by men and women. T-shirts, button-downs, trousers and sweaters can be found in similar styles in all of our closets. What makes these specific items universally appealing?
Designer Anthony Thomas Melillo knows: cut and comfort. The founder of ATM, a line of luxury basics like French terry sweatshirts, cashmere sweaters, knit jackets and jersey T-shirts for men and women, has built his design house around these wardrobe workhorses. We spoke with him about making style essentials, dressing elegantly and working at Esquire.
What three items are the linchpins of an elegant woman’s wardrobe? Of a man’s?
Any elegant person needs, before anything else, to have clothing that fits beautifully. We pride ourselves on that. If the clothes are wearing you, it’s not pretty.
An elegant wardrobe has a great trouser, a perfect cashmere sweater that goes everywhere with you and the best tees, of course!
How did working at a magazine (Esquire) influence your fashion sensibilities?
Working at Esquire was crucial in understanding my fashion sensibilities. I did all the celeb shoots so I really saw just how picky celebrities were about their clothing and fit. It was a top priority to make them feel comfortable in the clothing they would wear for the shoots so they would be able to perform for the pictures. This made me understand fit in a much broader way than just on my own body or on a model.
What is your favorite magazine? Do you have a favorite magazine contributor?
I think T Magazine that comes in The New York Times is great. It’s the one mag that still feels creative yet wearable to me. I love it and the whole team that produces it. Joe McKenna is one of my favorite stylists there.
Do you think magazines will fare in the future? Any ideas as to how you’d like to see them evolve?
I think they will always be there just in a much less important way. We have too much access to images and things from the Internet, which makes it immediate rather than having to wait for a monthly release. There is really no need for mags that don’t have a refreshing point of view that is not found on the Internet. I also love home mags; they have a better chance of lasting a little longer, I think. Architectural Digest and Dwell are two I still subscribe to.
Are there any evolutions in fashion that you’re excited about?
The biggest evolution I have been hearing about—and we are being referred to as a leader in this area—is Normcore. It fits us perfectly.
In some ways, fashion is moving toward gender neutrality. Your fall 2015 women’s line seems to skew toward strong suiting and androgynous pieces. Is this intentional? What’s so appealing about a woman in a suit?
I love a woman in a suit. However, I always feel it’s nice to have some sort of feminine edge. We do suiting with tees, so that takes the suit to another level right off the bat. The fits should always have a feminine edge as well. I love a boyfriend suit but the sleeve needs to be slim and the body tapered to look more feminine. I think you can give the illusion of a men’s suit with a sexy women’s fit.
Do you see men’s fashion playing with gender at all?
Men’s fashion is pretty straightforward, if you want to be realistic about it. At ATM we love to have beautiful fabrics and fits, however, we are not huge believers that we need to re-create the wheel or lean toward being too anything.