Michael Bastian launched his namesake label of modern-classic American menswear in 2006, after culminating his retail tenure with five years as the men's director at Bergdorf Goodman. Each year since his brand's inception, he's been nominated for the CFDA's Menswear Designer of the Year award, with 2011 marking the fifth. He talked with us about men's fashion, the tremendously successful, ongoing collaboration with Gant and buying back the Michael Bastian license.
Do you think men are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to dressing and design?
I think the Internet has made men more informed and aware about clothes in general. When you are able to see everything out there, you are free to form your own opinions and make your own judgements without them being filtered through a fashion review, or a particular retailer's selection.
Menswear tends to be less trend-driven, but what are some new looks you're particularly fond of?
The trend I'm liking the most is young guys wearing suits, but not because they have to, but because they want to. There is a whole generation of guys who never really were forced to wear a suit, so now it's a fashion choice for them, and it's really interesting to me how they are enjoying dressing up more.
What does it mean for you to be nominated for a CFDA award?
It's an incredible honor to be recognized by others in your industry.
What was the experience of collaborating with Gant like? Why do you think collaborations have become such a big trend in the industry?
My collaboration with Gant has been very rewarding, mainly because we speak the same language stylistically. I don't think it would be as successful if this weren't the case. As for the trend of collaborations, I think they work if there is this commonality between the company and the designer.
Is your personal style close to what you design?
My personal style is very classic American, and I like to think both of my lines (Michael Bastian and Gant by Michael Bastian) reflect that.
What are your favorite New York spots -- to shop, be inspired, etc.?
My favorite thing to do to get inspired is just walk around my neighborhood in the NYU area of the Village. Between the students and the locals, there is a ton of personal style walking around on any given day.
What's on the horizon for Michael Bastian?
Well, the big news is we've bought back our license, and we are now taking complete control of our business. It feels like we're brand new again, which is a good feeling.