On our radar: Menswear designer Todd Snyder
New York City-based menswear designer Todd Snyder is having a banner year. With barely three seasons of his namesake label presented to buyers and the press, the Ames, Iowa, native started off 2012 with a February nod from GQ magazine, which chose him as one of the best new menswear designers in America.
That was followed, in March, by a Council of Fashion Designers of America nomination for the Swarovski Award for Menswear (given to new, emerging and up-and-coming brands) along with Phillip Lim and Antonio Azzuolo, an honor Snyder calls "a complete surprise."
We first crossed paths with Snyder back when he was senior vice president of menswear at J. Crew, and his stint there (he left there in 2008 to launch his own label) coincided with the company's push into heritage brand collaborations with the likes of Timex and Red Wing, and the opening of the men's-only Liquor Store boutique in New York City. Back then he spoke about how his Iowa background was an asset in the quest to tap into the power of America's authentic legacy brands.
Snyder's emphasis on heritage was still very much in evidence when we caught up with him on a recent Thursday after a trunk show at the Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills.
"My father always said if you want to be the best, you need to work for the best," he said, by way of explaining a career arc that included working for the Gap and Ralph Lauren before landing at J. Crew. "And [J.Crew chief executive officer] Mickey [Drexler] was my finishing school."
A few minutes later, Snyder opened his sport coat and pointed to a label inside. "I did a collaboration with Southwick," he said, referring to the Lawrence, Mass.-based men's clothier that dates to the 1920s. "It’s a way of paying homage to my grandfather -- he wore Southwick, and my dad wore Southwick”
The rest of the collection (the Southwick partnership includes just suits, sport coats and a tuxedo) has a similar familiar-but-different vibe, the kind of luxe take on standard-issue garments that Billy Reid is a master of -- though filtered through Snyder's Midwestern-meets-military mind set instead of Reid's Southern sensibilities. Key pieces from the spring and summer 2012 collection -- which takes inspiration from the 1975 Jack Nicholson movie "The Passenger," includes selvedge chinos (in khaki and white, $325), Bedford cord trousers, dark, raw denim jeans ($275), cargo shorts ($225), bold check button-down shirts ($185), and outerwear pieces like a zip-front nubuck leather jacket ($1,500) and a poly-coated Italian wool peacoat ($595).
In addition to Neiman Marcus stores (and website), Todd Snyder's collection is available at Ron Herman at the Fred Segal Center on Melrose and Confederacy locally, as well as Odin New York and Bergdorf Goodman (including both retailer's websites) in New York.
The ultimate recipient of the CFDA Swarovski Award for Menswear will be announced at a June 4 event in New York City, and even if his namesake label doesn't take top honors, Todd Snyder's high profile, appreciation of heritage and luxe take on the American classics ensure he's not just a blip on the fashion industry radar.
-- Adam Tschorn
Photos, from top: Looks from Todd Snyder's spring and summer 2012 menswear collection. Credit: Kenny Thomas.
Fashion designer Todd Snyder, one of three nominees for the CFDA's Swarovski Award for Menswear. Credit: Kevin Tachman.