The King of Suave > Michael Bastian
The Résumé of Tireless Cool
• 2005: Bastian peaces out as men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman to follow a dream: launching his own Italian-made brand of “menswear building blocks at a luxury level.” Good idea: He soon wins his first GQ Best New Menswear Designer award.
• 2010: Starts a four-year run designing a Gant line infused with Wes Anderson whimsy. He then wins a second BNMDA nod, the only man to ever repeat.
• 2013: For Uniqlo, designs polo shirts with pocket flaps and quirky prints—the first (and only) time we’ve wanted to wear the waving Japanese “lucky cat.”
• 2016: His hundred-piece namesake line includes everything from gym clothes to formalwear—so the Gap collection, at maybe a dozen pieces, ought to be easy…right? “It’s a great challenge,” Bastian tells us. “It’s the difference between a novel and a good short story. They’re equally powerful.”
The Boys of Summer > Saturdays NYC
• Saturdays showed up out of nowhere, a magpie line that gathered all the style touch points of the moment: the surf-culture explosion, the shrunk-in-the-wash fit favored by Band of Outsiders (R.I.P.), and the crisp graphic designs aimed at city kids partying on tiki-torched decks in Montauk and Malibu. As menswear piled on more influences, so did Saturdays: skate-rat hats, jean jackets, cozy preppy sweaters. But what Saturdays did first, and maybe does best, is make the brand feel like a way of life. “We publish our own in-house magazine,” says co-founder Morgan Collett. “We developed our own coffee blend, which we sell at the store.” Now in New York, Japan, and Australia, the shops feel like your most stylish buddy’s weekend home—that also happens to sell denim work shirts you can’t live without.
The Streetwear Savant > John Elliott
• Then: When we tapped Elliott for this award only two years ago, he was working out of an apartment with three other guys. That quartet somehow revolutionized menswear—they’re the ones to credit (or blame?) for the sea of side-zip hoodies and tapered sweatpants taking over every street in America.
• Now: Elliott’s since ascended to streetwear-demigod status: His signature look—luxe, simple layers (on layers, on layers)—created a style movement that’s still building steam. His newest collection of watery blues and drab greens was inspired by the eleven days he spent touring Vietnam on foot, and we’ve got no doubt that his GQ capsule this year will be an even bigger smash than last time. Which was pretty damn big. “One of the most incredible experiences of my life was going to the Gap near where I live in L.A. to look at my first GQ collection, and they didn’t have anything left,” he says. “They’d had a line outside, and they sold out.”
The Curator Turned Creator > Steven Alan
• Most designers build their collections and work their way up to opening a storefront. Steven Alan did it backward. “When I first started the store, the goal was to be a really interesting retailer—travel the world and sell all these brands I found,” Alan tells us. The clothes he did make (shirts, mostly) were basically private-label pieces to fill his own shelves. He opened his showroom in 1997 and gradually diversified: a striped tie here, a polo there, until he was an actual capital-F fashion designer. Fast-forward to today and he’s a one-stop shop, with everything from shirts and shoes to sunglasses and watches bearing his name, all stocked next to those under-the-radar brands he’s found while roaming. That collection-curation combo is a move every major menswear retailer has since stolen—but nobody ever nails it quite as well as Steven Alan.
Source: gq.com Photos: Jake Chessum