The designer talks color combos, underwear licensing and one-night stands.
Iconic fashion designer Michael Bastian, 47, was born in Lyons, N.Y., and graduated from Babson College in Wellesley. After working at Abraham & Strauss, Sotheby’s, Tiffany & Co., Polo Ralph Lauren and Bergdorf Goodman (where he was the men’s fashion director for five years), he launched his own menswear line, Michael Bastian, in 2006. The Council of Fashion Designers of America named him Menswear Designer of the Year in 2011, the fourth time he was nominated for the prize.
In 2010, he launched a menswear collaboration with Gant, called Gant by Michael Bastian, which is distributed in more than 60 countries and is carried in both Gant stores and independent retailers. The newest boutique opened on Newbury Street in September. He lives in New York.
So what are you wearing right now?
Shorts, a T-shirt and a half-zipped sweatshirt.
Bathing suits. The less you’re wearing, the more precise it needs to be.
Jeans are really tough. There are so many moving parts to getting a perfect jean. Everybody’s got a different body, first of all, so designing something for the vast majority is a tall order. Then once you’ve got the fit, you’ve got the details: the thread color, the denim, the wash. It’s one of those things that everyone wears, but it’s probably the most difficult to design.
A better question is the trend that designers are trying to bring back and I’m worried will take off, and that’s those big huge shoulders. Some designers are playing around with that look, and I’ve always hated it. It makes everyone look like they’ve got a pinball head.
That’s a hard question because every time I express an opinion on what a guy should never wear, I walk out my front door and see someone wearing it and rocking it to perfection.
Perry Ellis when he was alive.
I really love American GQ.
John Hamm can do no wrong. I’ve met him, and he’s just a great guy. He’s exactly what you’d expect: cool, approachable, funny, friendly.
A good navy blazer. A good pink oxford-cloth shirt for when you’re hungover or feeling a little under the weather. And I think every guy should have a pair of beige five-pocket corduroys. I wear them all the time instead of jeans. I think they’re a little bit cooler.
Shoes! You know, it seems like an easy thing, but shoes can mess up your look faster than anything. Especially cheap shoes. Guys need to approach shoe shopping the way they approach car shopping. They’ve got to spend the money and keep them in good repair. Sink your money into a good pair of shoes, and look after them.
It’s different for the MB show and for the Gant presentation. For MB, we need a guy with a really strong presence, looks like he should be in the clothes, has a really good walk. For Gant, they need a lot of personality because they don’t just walk a runway. They interact with the crowd and each other. They dance. They talk. They’re like wonderful guests at a great party.
In the world? This amazing store in Tokyo called United Arrows. It’s so beautiful, from the architecture to the merchandise. The top floor has a custom kimono shop that also does men’s formalwear. They have beautiful music, beautiful furniture. I’ve never seen anything like it in the world.
Gray and navy.
Not at all. I’m the first one to say that you should see the guy first, then maybe notice the clothes. With clothes, their only job is to make you feel good about yourself.
Hmm… Does a one-night stand count? [Laughs.] I guess the answer’s yes.
I’m dying to do underwear. When you’re talking about a men’s brand, to get really big you have to take a different route from women’s. With women’s, the trick is to get a really hot, successful handbag. That can double your business quickly. With men’s, there are a couple of ways: fragrance, an underwear license, shoes.
I’m still waiting for that moment. I wake up every day with a fire in my belly, pushing me forward.
I’m pretty sloppy. If I like what I’m wearing, I can wear it two or three days in a row, which is kind of gross. I think I’m so absorbed with clothes that the less I have to think about them in my own life, I jump at the opportunity.
I’d love it if someone I thought was really smart, like Daniel Day-Lewis, picked my clothes. It’s an honor to have celebrities wear your stuff, but when it’s somebody you really respect, that makes it that much better.