billy reid

Meet the Designers: Billy Reid

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We spent a week this summer invading the offices and going inside the minds of six American menswear heroes. In our third installment, Billy Reid talks salvaged wood, ’60s soul, and creating clothing you’ll pass down to your kids someday.

MEN’S SHOP DAILY: What inspired your Fall ’13 collection?
BILLY REID:
It started from the idea of ’60s soul music. We knew of a documentary that was being made about Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where we’re based. There was a ton of just incredible photographs from the ’60s and ’70s—of Mick Jagger, who had visited there, Aretha Franklin, Arthur Alexander, Wilson Picket, Little Richard—all these folks who had visited there, and played and recorded there. So we kind of started there, which was a little more glitzy, and pulled it back to more classic American sportswear…There’s the balance of those two worlds, because not everyone’s going to want an oversized cotton/cashmere raincoat with alligator trim.

Tell us more about the film that inspired your creative process—Muscle Shoals.
It’s just an unbelievable piece of history that’s never been properly told. Even the movie doesn’t hit on all the things that really happened there, but it’s probably the best representation of it that I’ve seen.

Muscle Shoals, back in the early ’60s, there was a recording studio there, and this one particular man, Rick Hall, happened to record ‘You Better Move On’ by Arthur Alexander, and it became a number-one hit. And he did that in Alabama, on basically no budget. Then he met and was able to sign this guy who was a janitor at Ford Motor Company in Florence, Alabama. His name was Percy Sledge, and he had this song called ‘When a Man Loves a Woman,’ and he recorded that. It blew up, and then Jerry Wexler called him, who was the president of Capitol Records. He said, ‘I have this soul singer—she’s more of a gospel singer—and I wanna bring her down and record with you.’ And her name was Aretha Franklin.

…So he brought [Aretha Franklin] down, and they thought there’d be all these black soul musicians…And when they got there, it was a bunch of white country boys playing this soul music. And you know, this was the ’60s in Alabama. There were some tense times in there, but Aretha Franklin has said, ‘I really didn’t find my voice until I went therer and started playing with these guys.’

And it took off from there. Before you knew it, you had the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, Paul Simon, Willie Nelson—the list of people who have recorded music there is mind-blowing. From the Osmonds to Liza Minelli…Dire Straits, Jimmy Cliff, Boz Skaggs, Rod Stewart have all cut albums there, and recently, Band of Horses, Alicia Keys. Black Keys cut the Brothers album there, which was probably the best album they’ve cut. The Civil Wars are from there, Drive-By Truckers—so it’s just an incredible little town, with this hotbed of music that’s come outta that place. I call it the greatest story of rock that’s never been told. So maybe this movie will get it out there a little bit.

What are some aspects of those guys’ style back in the ’60s—Mick Jagger, Little Richard—that inspired you?
Oh man, when you see the movie you’re gonna freak. The clothes are off the charts. If you’ve seen Gimme Shelter, the Stones documentary, part of that was shot in Muscle Shoals when they came there. There were stories that they would dress up in drag—and this was, you know, the ’70s in rural Alabama—and walk around downtown, and peole would just gawk at them. The clothes were unvelievable. The footwear—python boots with just holes in ’em, and you can tell they’ve worn ’em for six months, the way everything is broken-in.

What do you think is significant about a band like the Rolling Stones recording in Muscle Shoals?
What’s crazy is that they knew it was there. This was before the internet or anything. They knew that place was there, and they sought it out and they wanted to record there—and they did it. It said a lot about them, to be that curious, and to follow through on it. Because you think of a band of their stature not wanting to get their hands dirty—and they did it. That really appealed to me.

And Muscle Shoals is not far from where you live and work in Florence, Alabama, correct?
It’s basically the same town. It’d be like saying Brooklyn and New York City. They’re sister cities, basically. There’s a river that divides it, and that’s it—although it seems like a lot more than a river that divides it at times. But yeah, it’s the same place.

This leather peacoat [above right] feels a bit Stones-ish. What’s the story behind that piece?
The original peacoat is probably one of our greatest-hit coats we’ve ever done—this super heavy-weight wool/cashmere peacoat that happened to get into the Skyfall James Bond movie, and it sort of went viral for us. We’re still shipping it on back-order. So we took the shape of that piece and made it in leather.

Any tips on how to wear a leather peacoat?
You could take this leather peacoat and make it look a bit Little Richard, but I can see a more traditional customer buying it and wearing it in a totally different way. I love the way it looks over a suit. I love leather and mixing it with tailored pieces. But, I’d say most guys are going to put this on with a pair of jeans. [The key is] it’s not so big that you look like you’re wearing a chair. It’s cut a little closer to your body, so you can put it over a suit, but it’s trim enough to wear with a sweater or T-shirt underneath.

Where did you grow up?
Amite, Louisiana. About an hour from New Orleans, and about an hour from Baton Rouge. We’re sort of in a triangle. All my family’s still there.

What was it like growing up there?
Very quiet. It’s a town of about 4,000 people. The nearest town was New Orleans, so we were in the middle of nowhere. My mother had a clothing store there, which is kind of how I got introduced to the business at an early age.

What was your mother’s store like?
Incredible. She was so ahead of her time. Her shop was located in my grandmother’s old home, so it felt like—it was a place where people would hang out. I always describe that it felt like Steel Magnolias in a clothing store.

So it was constantly people just coming in and out. She had a terrific business for 20 years there. She also opened a second store in our hometown, in the old railroad depot. Called it The Depot, because it was right on the railroad tracks, and it was all denim—just denim. This was back in the days of like, Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, Jordache. You know, the premium denim of the ’70s. She had this unbelievable denim store.

Growing up, did you ever help out around your mom’s clothing store, like as a summer job?
I did a little bit—but there was another shop in town that was a men’s store, which a good friend of hers owned. The gentleman who owned it is probably still one of my top-five style icons of all time. So it was great to work there, because I got to be around him, learn from him. We were one of the only stores to have Ralph Lauren in the whole state of Louisiana at the time. This was the early days for Ralph, early ’80s.

 

The man who owned the men’s store—what kinds of things did he wear, that stuck in your mind all these years?
I’ll tell you this one image of him I remember. I used to lifeguard at the country club, and I remember driving back down the road by the golf course. It’s July in south Louisiana, so it had to be high 90s and humid as hell. I remember looking out on the golf course, and all the men are in shorts and all this stuff. Well, he’s there in these, like, off-white linen trousers, with black-and-white, alligator-trim golf shoes, white oxford dress shirt. And I’m just looking at him. It’s just impeccable. And anywhere he went, he always—it was very classic, but it was just so right on. He just stood out, you know. Drove an old MG.

I remember at a Christmas party, this one time, he had this incredible red turtleneck, with this beautiful navy blazer and charcoal-grey trousers. I remember walkin’ in and just going, he looks like a million buck. And he, just [snaps fingers]—effortless with it. He was always like that, everywhere he went. There was never a letdown. Never a letdown with the guy.

Consistent.
Very consistent. Consistently stylish. Joe Buddy Anderson. The Royal Oaks men’s store, yep.

Was it your mom’s store that inspired you to get into clothing?
No, I was too busy playing football and baseball and everything else, to really appreciate it until later in life. I actually started college as a PE major. I wanted to be a coach and teach. And I flunked out as a PE major, which is really hard to do. I don’t remember [what happened]…Which is maybe why it happened. I was going to Southeastern Louisiana University, which was about 15 miles from Amite. Bad decision. You should not be so close to home with so many bad influences right next to you.

How did you go from an unsuccessful PE major to pursuing fashion design?
I kind of had to move on, and did all kind of odd jobs, from landscape, to working at a sawmill, to picking up trash for the city, to selling women’s shoes, to delivering pizzas—until finally, my mother sent me to the Art Institute of Dallas to study.

What did you do to make money while attending design school?
I got a job selling men’s suits [at a well-known department store]. I got to learn all about it from a lot of grizzled suit veterans…Men who had done it for, you know, 40 years, some of these guys. My boss was 70 years old and had been in the clothing business all his life. So it was great to be able to pull from that and try to absorb as much as you can.

What did you learn at school versus on the job?
In school, I learned more like the terminology. Not really the technical side of how something is made—especially in tailored clothing. The guts of that kind of stuff was more from the guys at the store. I was working full-time selling suits, and going to school, and that kept me out of trouble. I just kept working my way up and learning, and did a ton of made-to-measure suits.

How did you get your start in the apparel business, after graduating?
From there, I moved to California and tried to be an actor for about two weeks. Waited tables for two weeks. Then got very lucky, and got a job with Reebok, who was just starting to do clothing around 1988. Moved to New York, and then to Boston, and got to travel all over the world developing product for [a golf collection], the shark stuff. Not that it was my aesthetic, but such a great experience. We did a lot of stuff in Europe with that collection, and some of the people I met and worked with then are still people I work with today, from 20 years ago.

[Eventually] quit that job. Freelanced—design work. Pajamas. Underwear. Anything I could do. Eventually saved up enough money to come back with samples from Italy, some men’s shirt samples, a small collection of menswear in 1997.

You finally had your own collection. What did you do with it?
[At first we] only opened two accounts. It was the time where you go…Two stores is not gonna put any food on the table. But I said, man, if we could just make these two things happen, maybe we could grow from there. So we were able to stick it out. Next season, we opened in 15 stores. Then we went up to like 40 stores, and it just kept growing, until 9/11. In June 2001, I won a CFDA Award. Our big show was September 10, 2001. Great show. And you know, that’s when you start to book all your appointments [with buyers], and everything just started to fall apart after that. I moved to Alabama, started freelance work again.

Back to square one.
So we were there, and then I got a call from two friends of mine, who had the idea of opening retail stores, and they wanted to call it Hampton Reid. They wanted to open stores but design their own products. They said, ‘Will you come design a product for us?’ I was like, ‘Well yeah, I’d love to, but Hampton Reid, what’s up with that?’ I said, I’d love to restart the collection—it used to be William Reid—I’d love to just take a whole new start, and call it Billy Reid. Let’s try to really make it more personal.

And the rest is history.
We opened three stores kind of at one time in 2004, and we worked the stores. We built the product, and kind of grew it store by store after that. It’s definitely been a rollercoaster ride for sure, man.

Did you used to go by William?
No, never. That’s the funny thing—I’ve always been Billy.

After all these years in the industry—what’s your goal as a designer?
What we really strive for is—whatever that piece is, you want that to be their favorite piece. If they buy a coat, you want that to be the coat they really love. You want that sort of quality that they’ll keep it and pass it on down, so to speak.

 

Who is the Billy Reid ‘guy’? Who’s your target?
You know—I really don’t know if we have a target, to be honest with you. That’s something that’s really been difficult to put a finger on, because there are 20-year-old kids—I guess they’re not kids, they’re kids to me now at my age—but there are 20-year-old kids coming in here, and there are 55-, 60-year-old men coming here. Sometimes they’re buying the same item. As crazy as it sounds, I really don’t focus on who’s buying it… Sometimes the best way to do it is to not think about it as much.

Seems to be working. What do you think that 20-year-old and that 60-year-old have in common?
I think it’s a person who wants something that they feel good about buying, whether they feel good about where it’s made, or how it’s made, or how it fits…The longevity of that piece—stylistically and durability-wise.

How do you think where you grew up affects your visual aesthetic?
I love old things. My mom’s store, when you walked in there, it felt like it was a home. When we started building our shops, we wanted people to come in here and hang out—feel like they were a welcome guest in our home.

How do you make your stores feel like home?
For instance, when we built this store out [note: Billy Reid’s NYC location, pictured here], every material in here, we trucked here from Alabama. We hand-selected each piece of it, brought them all here. This was actually seven different staircases that we brought up and put together. There’s wood in here from an old cotton gin what was torn down outside of Florence, Alabama. The heart-pine floors are from a factory outside of Abbeville, Louisiana, that was an old sugar mill. These doors [the ceiling, see above left] came out of a school in Jackson, Mississippi. We got 35 of ’em. They’re heavy as hell.

How were you able to track all those things down?
My wife and I, we do a lot of antique shopping, and have made good friends over the years, who have stores and deal in salvage architectural materials.

And how did you get all this accomplished? Did you have help with all these ‘home improvements’?
We milled this timber in here ourselves. Literally set up saws, table saws in here and camped out in New York for six weeks and built the store ourselves. A good friend of mine, who worked on our house in Alabama—he had never been above Chattanooga, Tennessee—he drove the truck up with all the stuff in it. What was hysterical was some of the stuff we had to do before we could get in here. Union workers had to start some of the demo and electrical…They would take breaks every 15, 20 minutes. Meanwhile, my friend from Alabama is freakin’ out in his like, cut-off camo shirt. I mean, he makes Duck Dynasty look like Thurston Howell. Eventually, we get the union guys outta here, and he basically takes over. And he’s just an unbelievable carpenter, so we were able to work here and get all this stuff done. I’m glad we did it that way, it makes it feel that much more personal.

Speaking of wood—it’s been said that in addition to style icons in Muscle Shoals, the concept of ‘wood’ helped inspire your Fall ’13 collection.
We were working on our house, and there was just tons of wood, scrap wood. We had ash. Pecan. Walnut. Oak. We had hickory. All these different woods, and the colors are just so—when you cut it, they each have different shades. As calm as you think wood might be, they all look vastly different with the grain and the color—especially when you start to stain it.

So we loved the palette of that, where you can get some of the green hues, versus the brown hues, versus the red, that come out in the wood. The color names all became based off wood. And then we built this huge backdrop for the show—we took all the scrap wood I was talking about a nailed it to plywood and built walls. It looks like a patchwork, a collage of wood. After we tore that set down, we put it on a truck, sent it to Georgetown where we’re building a store. Now it’s part of the floor there.

 

Tell us about your new line of Billy Reid suiting.
We’ve always done suiting here at our own shops, and we’ve done a tremendous amount of made-to-measure and custom suiting. But we’ve really never offered it at wholesale and partnered with a retailer until Nordstrom. They were the ones to kind of step up and say, ‘We believe in what you’re doing,’ and want to help get that business off the ground.

What makes Billy Reid suiting special?
We’ve been making our suits here in New York. They’re made the old-fashioned way, so to speak—where you get all the canvas center linings, and there’s no glue inside the garment. And it’s definitely a younger fit. There’s been such a resurgence from a younger customer wanting to buy tailored clothing. Guys in their mid 20s, early 30s wanting a suit, but they don’t want one that’s, you know, cut down to here, it’s baggy here, their armholes are sagging. They want something that’s close to their body, that makes them look fit. So we’re trying to offer a younger-fitting garment that’s made with old-world construction. Combining those two things is the concept behind it.

Why do you think more and more guys are wanting to dress up a little?
That’s a great question. I think menswear in general has just had such a…maybe it’s the internet. Whether it’s The Sartorialist, or—there’s just so much information, and people are just more curious about it. They want to know what goes into that suit, and it sort of breaks down the barrier of price apprehension. I know how it’s made. It’s gonna make me feel good. It’s gonna make me look good. It’s gonna last a long time. And there’s also the intangible of that—does it give you confidence? Do you feel good about that purchase? And they care about where it’s made. I think the fact that we’re doing this in the US gives it a little extra boost, too.

What’s going on in this dressing room [above]?
This wall was actually from the first photo shoot that we ever did. It was a three-day shoot with a gentleman by the name of Charles Moore—you would recognize some of his photographs. The one where the kids are getting hosed in Birmingham? He took that photograph. Then with Martin Luther King on the drugstore counter, where his head’s down on the counter? He took that. He was at the front line of the civil rights movement in the ’60s, and this was actually one of the last shoots he did before he passed.

How did you end up working with such a legendary photographer?
He’s from Tuscumbia, Alabama, ten miles away from us. A friend of mine introduced us—he was 80 at the time. We asked him if he’d be interested in shooting. We had no money. We grabbed neighbors, friends, family—and took three days, drove around and just took photos, and then we mixed ’em with old family photographs that we had. Then we hand-made 1,000 scrapbooks and sent them to 1,000 people we thought would be our customers—friends, editors, all different folks.

It looks more like photojournalism than a fashion shoot.
We wanted it to feel real. Feel sort of raw. Like this guy here. He was a guy that worked on our house and had no teeth. That was my wife. That was my son when he was a baby. This is my neighbor. This is a photograph of my dad and his brothers. This was my aunt and uncle. Where we had photographs left, we made wallpaper and different stuff. It was a lot of fun. Probably one of the most incredible things I’ve ever been a part of. It was weird. We shot it in late July, where it could’ve been 105 outside. And we were shooting heavy Fall clothes. For a few days, it was like 70 degrees, and almost cool feeling. It was kind of a weird sign. We were making it count.

You mentioned your son. Any tips on fatherhood?
Whoa, uh. Patience, man. Kids need time and love. That’s all they need usually, for the most part. Give them those two things, you’re gonna be in pretty good shape. Gotta let ’em be themselves. They’re all different. I got three and they’re so vastly different—personality-wise, and how you have to deal with ’em. Even at that age they’re still people. They have their own minds and their own way of doing things. So you have to learn to adapt to that, be a manager. But yeah, you have to learn as you go. There’s no book, really.

Lastly: You grew up and currently live in the South, but spend a lot of time in New York. How does that manifest itself in Billy Reid clothing?
It’s sort of like living in two places and having two different lives, in some ways, but…I think that balance, or that combination, is really what drives the aesthetic of the collection. We want to make pieces that you can be walking down the street in Nashville or Florence, Alabama, and just as easily take that same piece and wear it right down the Bowery. So I think downtown in New York and the Deep South combined, is what sort of makes it all come together.

 
—  —  —
 


Key items from Billy Reid’s Fall collection:
Tweed Overcoat | Wool V-neck Sweater | Leather Peacoat
Wool Sportcoat | Plaid Shirt | Shawl Cardigan

SHOP ALL: BILLY REID

 
 

[Photos by Robin Stein. Interview by Justin Abbott.
Special thanks to Billy Reid and team.]

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We’ve teased it before and we’ll tease it again. That’s how excited we are to bring you six exclusive, in-depth looks inside the minds and creative spaces of our favorite American menswear designers.

Tune in TOMORROW for our complete Todd Snyder Q&A—and stick around for Shipley & Halmos, Billy Reid, Michael Bastian, Jack Spade and Band of Outsiders in the weeks to come. In the meantime, shop: Men’s Designer Collections.

 
 

 
 

[Video shot by Robin Stein; edited by Sean Dutton. Instagram images via @nordstrommen, @miss_melia_ann, and @shipley_halmos.]

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Ever wonder how your favorite menswear designers deal with oppressive summer heat? The New York Times has answers from Michael Bastian, Billy Reid, Todd Snyder and more with a new article this week.

We should have asked the same thing—when we were literally in these guys’ offices earlier this summer, traversing a humid, 100-degree NYC (plus a brief stop in LA) to get inside the minds of the men who create the ahead-of-the-curve, superb-quality, totally timeless men’s clothing you know and love (and if you don’t know—you should).

We touched on the glory of air-conditioning, and the merits of cold ginger ale—but from there the discussion turned from Summer to Fall. Stay tuned to Men’s Shop Daily in the coming weeks for an insider’s look at our favorite Fall collections—plus, find out who owns a machete, who used to work construction, whose power animal is a pug…and much, much more.

 

In the meantime:
Shop Designer Collections | Read Past Q&A’s 

 
 

[Photos courtesy of @NordstromMen on Instagram.]

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It was just last week that we mentioned the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) and its uncanny knack for a) honoring our favorite menswear designers in the biz, most recently Thom Browne, and b) throwing parties that draw highly photogenic crowds.

The CFDA’s noteworthy deeds continue this week with a collection of one-of-a-kind weekend bags that the non-profit organization, along with Details magazine, commissioned from top menswear designers including Michael Bastian, Rag & Bone, Todd Snyder and Billy Reid.


[The plain, military-surplus duffel each designer started with.]

The bags are being auctioned on eBay through this weekend only. As of this posting, Todd Snyder’s is the most hotly sought after with 23 bids. But you know how these things work: The auction ends June 17; now’s your chance to stake out your favorite bag, then swoop in at the last minute to drop the winning bid.

Check out our favorite bags below, and pop over to eBay to see about scoring a one-of-a-kind work of art (slash piece of luggage). All proceeds go to the CFDA to benefit new and emerging designers.

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Michael Bastian. The 2011 CFDA Award winner patched up his bag like an Eagle Scout sash full of merit badges; but in a Jack Kerouac-like twist, the obscure mementos look like they’ve been collected throughout a road scholar’s lifetime of strange trips.
Shop Michael Bastian | Bid on This Bag


Rag & Bone. Sleek black leather contrasting the faded olive give this duffel—by the English-bred, New York-based duo behind Rag & Bone—the look of a refined  doctor’s bag. Perfect for carting a change of clothes uptown to hit the gym before or after the office.
Shop Rag & Bone | Bid on This Bag


Marc Jacobs. Win this auction, and you get not only a cool bag—but also dozens of what appear to be hand-doodled buttons to pluck off and pin to your jean- and leather-jacket lapels.
Shop Marc by Marc Jacobs | Bid on This Bag


Tommy Hilfiger. It’s amazing how some blue dye and leather accents can make an Army/Navy bag look incredibly luxe—as with Hilfiger’s unmistakable play on one of our favorite trends for summer: unapologetic Americana.
Shop Tommy Hilfiger Watches | Bid on This Bag


Billy Reid. Alabama-based Reid devised one of the most functional duffels of the bunch—complete with longer handles to toss it over your shoulder during endless airport treks, and a strap on the end to easily nab it from the overhead compartment (or the flatbed of a truck).
Shop Billy Reid | Bid on This Bag


Ovadia & Sons. Twin brothers Shimon and Ariel Ovadia offer a wry twist on their signature mix of preppy and military influences, with aeronautical patches affixed in a jaunty, haphazard manner.
Shop J. Press York Street by Ovadia & Sons | Bid on This Bag


Duckie Brown. Where other redesigns sought to urbanize the source material, this one embraces olive green’s earthy side, with a wooly blanket pattern that recalls visions of summer camp.
Shop Florsheim by Duckie Brown Shoes | Bid on This Bag


Todd Snyder. This Iowa-born designer chose to pursue the ‘Navy’ side of Army/Navy, with a sailor-inspired creation that turns the conventional duffel on its ear. Rugged natural leather and sturdy rope make it ready for a long boat ride—preferably to the Bahamas.
Shop Todd Snyder | Bid on This Bag



And two more auctions we’re eyeing: Richard Chai (top) and Public School—we don’t carry these guys, but they made some of our favorite bags of the bunch. The former utilizes a rare color scheme we suddenly hope to see more of: olive green x neon blue.

The latter, in always-appropriate black on black, looks like a cross between Michael Jackson’s jacket from Thriller and some space-age survival gear from our recent favorite sci-fi film-festival throwback.

 
 

[Intro photo by Donnell Culver for We Are The Market. Duffel photos via Details.com.]

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Congratulations to Thom Browne for taking home top honors in the Menswear category at Monday night’s CFDA Awards.

If you’re curious what that means, the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) puts on what basically translates to the Oscars of the fashion world each year. As for the winner (seen above in a fittingly subversive twist on black tie): After famously reviving the menswear industry’s interest in slim tailoring a few years back, Thom Browne has persistently pushed the boundaries of what constitutes a ‘fashion show’ to the limits of absurdity (note his Punks vs. Jocks and Preps from Space -themed shows as examples) while somehow maintaining a somber atmosphere that implies what’s on view is nothing short of art.

A snapshot of Browne’s Fall ’13 Amish cloaks, pixelated for the business park, popped up in the CFDA’s #cfdaawards Instagram feed—as did hundreds of shots of dapperly dressed designers and drop-dead-gorgeous actresses and models. Here are the highlights:


L: Prepping the red carpet.
R: Michael Bastian, 2011 CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year, with Todd Snyder,
nominated for this year’s Swarovski Award for Menswear.


Legendary supermodel Linda Evangelista with future hall-of-famer Karolina Kurkova.


L: Billy Reid, last year’s CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year.
R: The crowded venue at NYC’s Lincoln Center.


House of Harlow 1960 designer Nicole Richie and Australian model Jessica Hart.


L: The good stuff. | R: Model Frida Gustavsson and BLK DNM designer Johan Lindeberg.


Actress Sofia Vergara. (The new Peg Bundy?)


L: Public School designers Maxwell Osborne and Dao-yi Chow, winners of this year’s
Swarovski Award for rising stars in Menswear.
R: Alexander Wang and friends on the steps outside.


Michael Kors with a model on each arm. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.


L: Mood lighting at the after-party.
R: Womenswear winners Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler
who appear to have a firm grasp on menswear, too.


Actress, award presenter, and Bridesmaid Rose Byrne—getting photo-bombed.


L: CFDA International Award winner Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy with actress Jessica Chastain.
(How hardcore was she in Zero Dark Thirty?)
R: One of our favorites (and definitely the funniest) from the female blogosphere,
Man Repeller Leandra Medine is a certified CFDA superstar.


End on a High Note: In the clip above, an army of male models awkwardly a capellas Daft Punk x Pharrell disco jam ‘Get Lucky,’ all while wearing the Fall ’13 collections by all three CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year nominees—and somehow keeping a straight face.

 

Crashing a black-tie bash of your own sometime soon?
SHOP: TUXEDOS & FORMALWEAR

 
 

[Instagram photos via CFDA.com; click here for individual credits and tons more photos. Video via KCD. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]

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Only a few more of our GQ Spring Trend Reports to go. (View past blog articles here: Loafers |Jean Jackets | Sun-Washed Colors | Camo | Cotton Suits.) With the mercury continuing to rise as we head into summer, today’s installment examines how to put a modern and versatile twist on a perennial warm-weather classic: the Polo Shirt. Here’s Jim Moore and Michael Hainey of GQ with more:

With an eye on dressy details like smart stripes, contrast collars, and physique-enhancing designs at the chest and shoulder, we chose a few favorites below—any of which should hold up as well in a casual work environment as they do on the weekend. Browse additional options here: MORE DRESS POLOS
[Note, the polo shirt up top is by Fred Perry.]


Gant by Michael Bastian | Rag & Bone | Billy Reid


Zegna Sport | Band of Outsiders | PS Paul Smith

 

Look for new GQ Spring Trend Report videos in the weeks to come—
and shop all eight of our GQ-approved trends, from cotton suits to camo, here:
GQ SPRING TREND REPORT

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Has your wife or girlfriend ever borrowed your coat or wandered the house in your favorite hoodie? If not, you might need better clothes. ‘Let Her Borrow’ is a new series in which Kristina Zias, a menswear expert at our Grove store in LA, shows off her favorite new items from the Nordstrom Men’s Shop.

Menswear designers seriously stepped up their polo-shirt game this season. With trends like zippered collars, longer button plackets, and unlimited color choices, the polo is your go-to for elevating casual weekend wear. And, if the lady in your life is a tomboy at heart like me, you might catch her nabbing your new polo faster than you can say ‘Hey, that’s mine!'”
—Kristina Zias, Nordstrom at The Grove, Los Angeles

 
 



1. The Classic: Billy Reid. “This Billy Reid polo is second-skin soft. Seriously. You can wear it running around town in the AM, to a casual business meeting in the afternoon, out to dinner in the evening, and you might even want to sleep in it, too. You probably shouldn’t, but it’s so soft and classic that you could. I love this light blue—it’ll look great on almost any man.”
[Shop: Billy Reid ‘Pensacola’ Polo | All Men’s Polo Shirts]


Editor’s picks to complete the look:
Jack Spade Blazer | Tod’s Penny Loafer
Gant by Michael Bastian Chinos | Billy Reid Polo (same as above)
 
 



2. The Rebel: Marc by Marc Jacobs. “Super-slim throughout the body—if you don’t normally wear Marc Jacobs, for sure go up one size. I’m obsessed with this ‘Acacia’ color! We can also call it neon yellow. It’s so vibrant and would look great with a tan. The zipper detail adds some edge, for the man who thinks polos are for prepsters. I know you’re out there…”
[Shop: Marc by Marc Jacobs Zip-Collar Polo | All Men’s Polo Shirts]


Editor’s picks to complete the look:
7 For All Mankind Jeans | Nixon Watch
Marc by Marc Jacobs Sunglasses and Polo Shirt (same as above)
 
 



3. The Popover: Edun. “Slim throughout the body. The narrow collar makes for a more modern shirt, and the rose color shows you’re ready for spring and looks great paired with almost any bottom. I love the extended button placket on this polo—actually, is it even a polo at all, or is it a button-down? Who cares? It’s great!”
[Shop: Edun Woven Pullover Shirt | All Men’s Polo Shirts]


Editor’s picks to complete the look:
Timberland Chukka Boot | Cult of Individuality Pants
Want Les Essentiels de la Vie Bracelet | Edun Shirt (same as above)
 
 



4. The Contrast Collar: Ted Baker London. “The purple gingham trim under the button placket is a great pop of color to an already standout polo. The perfect shirt to wear to your girl’s family weekend barbecue! Pair it with flat-front shorts and some boat shoes, and you’ll be ‘mom-approved’ for sure.”
[Shop: Ted Baker London ‘Reeskep’ Piqué Polo | All Men’s Polo Shirts]


Editor’s picks to complete the look:
Persol Sunglasses | Hugo Boss Shorts
Sperry Top-Sider Boat ShoeTed Baker London Polo (same as above)
 
 

SHOP ALL: MEN’S POLO SHIRTS
…And catch our previous installment of ‘Let Her Borrow’ here.

 
 

[By Kristina Zias. Photos by Laura Matsko.]

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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
 
 
 

[All photos shot by the designers/brands themselves, except Michael Jordan © Walter Iooss, Jr.]

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Buyers, ‘Shoe Dogs,’ Nordstrom brothers—plenty of gentlemen here at Nordstrom wear a suit every day. Here in the online creative department, though, flannel shirts, blazers, denim jackets and desert boots are de rigueur. We look great, don’t get us wrong; it’s just that bona fide suits are few and far between.

That didn’t stop us from jumping at the chance to lay hands on the new Heirloom Collection suits by Billy Reid, when their marketing team left samples at our headquarters the other day. Even the brief encounter documented below left us wishing we didn’t have to return the suits to Billy Reid a few days later; they felt fantastic and fit like a glove, even before a visit to our expert in-store tailors.

Here are some notes on the suits’ incredible fit and quality, courtesy of the Billy Reid team.
Origin: Our Heirloom Collection is produced and manufactured here in the USA, with all fabrications made in Italy.
Construction: The suit construction is 1/2 horsehair canvas, fully lined in a custom cotton/silk printed lining.
Inspiration: This lining was inspired by a fleur-de-lis wallpaper Billy discovered in a Parisian church. [See photos below.]
Fit: The fit is one of the best features—it’s a classically styled suit, but cut a little shorter, with a tailored fit through the shoulder and body. The suits have a 7-inch drop with a flat-front, classic-cut, mid-rise trouser.
Finishes: The suits ship with prepared sleeves and all-natural, dark-horn buttons.

 



This first suit is the Grey/Black ‘Nailhead’ (denoting the subtle speckle pattern) in 100% wool. It’s a mid-weight wool, perfect to wear any time of year (except, perhaps, a sweltering summer in Billy Reid’s home state of Alabama).

Note the maroon-and-mustard printed lining (a subtle pop of fall color that’s built right in), the ‘Made in the USA’ label, and the camel-colored felt under the collar—which appears on every suit here, and is unspoken encouragement to turn up your collar on cold mornings.
{Shop This Suit}

 


Next is a suit made of the same year-round 110s wool as the grey one above—but in a super-versatile, Solid Navy. As you probably know, navy goes with everything: black, brown, khaki. This suit jacket, thanks to its tailored fit, would even look great dressed down with your favorite selvedge jeans.
{Shop This Suit}

 



This third suit is crafted in a thicker, winter-weight wool—in a Black-and-Red Micro Check that’s quintessential for the cold months ahead. Wear it as your outer layer all through fall (supplement with warm accessories and under-layers, as advocated in GQ this month)—then protect it with a killer overcoat when harsher weather arrives.
{Shop This Suit}

 



Finally, Billy Reid’s Navy/Cream Pinstripe suit was our favorite of all. Made with the thickest fabric of the bunch—a 95% wool, 5% cashmere blend—it’s super warm and incredibly soft. Those wider, peaked lapels give it a luxe, ’70s-throwback vibe (and make your shoulders look nice and broad)—but the collection’s signature trim fit keeps things thoroughly modern.
{Shop This Suit}

 
 

[Note: Billy Reid Heritage Collection suits are available at 4 selected Nordstrom stores; but you can order them online—with free shipping and free returns, as with any Nordstrom order—no matter where you live. Detail photos by Justin Abbott.]

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Bruce Pask: Men’s Fashion Director of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, certifiably sharp dresser (as evidenced here, here and here), and mastermind behind the styling of our Fall 2012 Men’s Shop Catalog.

Visiting our Seattle headquarters for just a few days this past summer, Pask offered a moment (a rare commodity, between rapid-fire styling sessions, non-stop meetings, and trying to nab a table at the Walrus and the Carpenter for that evening) to chat with us about his favorite pieces from our Fall Catalog.


1. Burberry Peacoat. “You can’t go wrong with that, I think it’s an amazing piece. It’s really trim, the arms are slender, it’s really well-cut.” (shop this item | shop all peacoats)

 


2. Wolverine 1000 Mile Boots. “I own them and love them. They just go with everything, they’re such a neutral. They looks great with jeans, with khakis—and then you can also use them to ground a dressier look, and it shows a bit more character than just a dress shoe. They’re also really well-made.” (shop this item | shop all boots)

 


3. Jack Spade Cardigan. “Some guys are afraid of cardigans, because they think of Fred Rogers, or they think it’s too groovy, but this piece has such versatility. It looks great under a sport jacket, it looks great on its own, you can wear it with a T-shirt or with a woven. It’s a uniform piece that you can go back to again and again.” (shop this item | shop all cardigans)

 


4. Billy Reid Overcoat. “That Billy Reid coat is beautiful—double-breasted, wool melton, great shape. It’s a great length because it’ll go over a sport jacket. I like pieces where you can get a lot of use out of them—it’s a really dressy coat, but you can also do it more casually, like we did here.” (shop this item | shop all overcoats)

 


5. Gitman Ties. “We’re just using them for styling, but we used them a lot—all those Gitman neckties, those skinny wool tartans and foulards, I think are great.” (shop Gitman ties | shop all ties)

Bonus Tip: A New Perspective on Pocket Squares. “The thing I love about these [above] is that they’re not just this white sliver coming out of a pocket. There was a point when that meant something and kind of evoked something, but I think it’s time we reinvestigate what a pocket square’s supposed to do. A darker, tonal, wool pocket square—and kind of casually, but artfully placing it in—I just think it gives such a boost to a tailored look.” (shop pocket squares)

 
 

[Quotes by Bruce Pask. iPhone photos shot this past summer during style-out sessions for the Fall Catalog.]

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