Ryan Seacrest is a man of many talents, he spends most of his time working for all sorts of companies and gigs. But as of recently, Ryan Seacrest has a new career in mind. As of recently his fashion brand called Ryan Seacrest Distinction, a menswear brand he launched four years ago, has recently been growing at an increasing rate.
The busyness of it keeps me on my toes, there is no room for error,” he tells BoF. “Since I’ve moved to the East Coast, I actually get more sleep than I’ve ever gotten before.”
Ryan Seacrest Distinction brand is set to hit $50 million in retail sales this year. Seacrest is focusing more time this year on his fashion line because of his love for fashion. He first started to take notice of fashion when he enjoyed smart tailoring after he started hosting American Idol 2002. He then made friends with Burberry’s Christopher Bailey, who made his custom suits for multiple events.
Seacrest knew not everybody could afford Burberry though, “I wanted to [create] something that provided that same sort of feeling to people when they would put it on,” he says. “Something that was accessible in its price point, that really was made of great quality, for the guy who had an eye for detail.”
Macy’s and Seacrest have become crucial partners over the years with Macy’s giving plenty of suggestions for Seacrest and his line. “Guys could specifically reference his style, what he wore, and that was an important element for us to venture into this partnership,” says Macy’s group vice president and fashion director for men’s, Durand Guion. Macy’s saw Seacrest’s brand as an alternative to bigger brands but that can still compete with quality and price. “How can we start to inject that next level of coolness into the clothing — a space that historically can be very block and tackle, very serious, very subdued?” Guion adds. “We knew there was already a shift happening.”
The newest fashion trends for the spring and summer are bright colors, and relaxing styles. Colored loafers are back in season, so are casual oxfords and boat shoes. These new styles show an image of cool and casual because now the code of “dressed to impress” consists of shorts and a seersucker blazer. Also new light materials are being shown off to give breathability to your everyday clothing by featuring very light and airy fabrics with colors and patterns you would see on a holiday trip to the Hamptons, Miami, or Italy. There is absolutely nothing missing from these styles to back up your globe-trotting and high end lifestyle, except for maybe a beautiful female by your side. But that might be an option that will come later, after the clothes are worn and observed.
Trending now are the brighter pastel colored shorts, polo’s and blazers with a weekend casual vibe. The top designers who are already showing off their casual spring and summer collections are Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Lacoste, Tallia, and Nautica. Each has its own style, however the most uniquely designed piece is the Hugo Boss blazer with zipper shoulder sleeves which can be taken off and made into a vest. So with Hugo Boss, whether it’s chilly or hot the same blazer can be used and worn in a multitude of ways. Casual formal with the full blazer, rocker-hip with the sleeves unzipped to form a vest, or just with a t-shirt in both scenarios. Spring is in the air and summer is coming. Bright cool colors and fabrics are going to be all over the streets soon, so why not get your jump on the seasons fashion now? Don’t be a follower, be the trendsetter this season!
Designers and customers are breaking the rules. Formerly functional and drab, menswear is now undergoing a renaissance. And social media is catalyzing the shift.
“Fashion is the first and universal language,” said Kenneth Cole Mar. 25 to open a panel on the casualization of menswear sponsored by Fashion Group International and GQ magazine.
GQ Vice President Chris Mitchell moderated the panel, which included Cole, GQ Senior Style Editor Will Welch, Saks Fifth Avenue Vice President and Fashion Director Eric Jennings and designer Todd Snyder.
A Menswear Renaissance
A few years ago, men relished taking off their suits after eight hours at the office. That ship has sailed – more than half of American men have included formal wear in their casual aesthetic. Now that they do not have to wear a suit uniform everyday, they have more opportunities for sartorial creativity than ever.
“Men’s dressing has changed drastically from five to ten years ago,” Cole remarked, starting off the discussion. In fact, the growth of men’s fashion has outpaced women’s over the last ten years. The shift in lifestyle has caused a shift in fashion awareness and aesthetic – particularly for the millennial generation, which has adopted a youthful, casual yet polished look.
“The blazer is the basis of men’s fashion, said Cole, as it doubles as formal and casual wear. Because form exclusively follows function in this piece, designers can do anything they want – make it as drab and office-like as the suit of old, or make it modern, with shoulder patches and unexpected colors, patterns and fits. The blazer (and trousers) have been updated and are more tailored and fitted than ever before.
The well-dressed dandy from the 1800s has truly returned, and wears suits with pocket squares, ties, topcoats and vests to go to clubs and on dates – men actually want to have their clothes tailored. Jennings attributed this to the increasing visibility of such accouterments on celebrities and NBA players, whom we see leaving the locker rooms dressed as a menswear designer’s dream, and increasing number of rappers singing in part about suits.
“The appetite is like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” Welch noted.
Separates are Key
Men’s fashion is like a chef (carefully) throwing ingredients together to create a chef d’oeuvre. “We are limited to the number of pieces we have,” Snyder said of man’s fashion plight. So men have to mix the things they know together to have an edge. How would one do this? He suggested combining a formal blazer with a sweatshirt or military-style pieces. “I’m really trying to push my customer to try new things,” continued Snyder, who currently retails a suit at Nordstrom for $795.
“Take suits and dress them down,” said Welch. He proposed jeans paired with a suit jacket and tie. “There are always new directions … no end of things you can do.” Designers need to give people what makes them feel good, but is also unexpected – something dynamic but also true to them, said Cole. He boldly claimed that “They want your interpretation of what they want.”
No Longer Afraid of Fashion
A designer’s success or failure hinges on timing. For men as much as for women, designers cannot introduce novel styles so soon that they alienate the customer. But they have to introduce them early enough to be a leader.
When people hear “blazer” they immediately think: preppy, private school, gold crest. But we need avant-garde to change us. Today, men want something other than the traditional preppy look – they want something a little more edgy, something that will identify them rather than lose them in the fashionable yet anonymous crowd.
You would be surprised by how many men – even quote-on-quote manly, “I don’t care what I look like” men – are actually converting to the casualized formal menswear phenomenon. Jennings visited a group of over 100 new recruits for the NBA earlier this year to give a tutorial on how to dress well and follow the NBA’s dress code. Amazingly, every single audience member – all around 19 or 20 years old, ‘macho’ football players who spend most of their waking moments sweating profusely and downing protein powder shakes – were highly interested in fashion, and knew exactly who their favorite designers were.
Millenial men are just “not afraid of fashion anymore,” said Snyder. With social media and men’s magazines like GQ and now NBA players, whom Snyder calls them “basically the best dressed men nowadays,” men have access to so many people’s personal styles – from designers to their peers. Street style and the music world are having a huge impact on men by demystifying fashion and making it more accessible. Looking like well-dressed NBA players and other guys on the street is a lot less terrifying than feeling like you’re part of a runway show or an androgynous man in a glossy airbrushed ad.
The Price Point.
Snyder attributes part of this aesthetic shift to the recession of 2008. “Guys are realizing that the better dressed you are, the more likely you are to succeed, whether it be in business or in dating.”
Men buy suits for a reason – a big event, a job, for longevity. They have no problem investing and choosing new things if they know it will last. So it is the company’s job to tell the story of why a piece is the best quality, fit and cut. Hot items like sneakers have no price resistance, whereas tailored, better quality and more expensive items like suits have much higher price resistance. “The make, fit and brand of the suit defines its price,” said Cole. The brand, in particular, defines expectations with its consistent quality, aesthetic, and acceptability. “Price is important… I want to dress a lot of people,” said Snyder. And the way to do that is by selling menswear at affordable prices – like his $795 suit.
Many young men get into suits through fast fashion – buying a $100-200 suit and then “graduating” to one of better quality. Indeed, “the more trendy, the less pressure on tailoring,” said Cole. “Suit tailoring is a different mindset, a different purchase,” Welch concluded. Today’s man is starting to buy tailored items the same way he buy sneakers for the season.
Now that the spark has been lit in so many men’s minds, and is being stoked by increased social media exposure and designers’ attentive to the sartorial transition, the trend may turn into a way of life. As it is particularly affecting the younger generation, it is likely that this fashion-aware mindset will travel with them through their careers. Will we continue to see men buying their milk in ratty old shirts and sagging sweatpants? Certainly. But start keeping a tally of the blazered and pocket-square-wearing men in your grocery store. I guarantee the number will surprise you.
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