Todd Snyder.

In Conversation...

Derek: Define your style and how you carved out a niche in menswear.

Todd: I grew up in Iowa and always had an affinity for clothes. I spent a lot of time shopping and reading magazines and watching all the old greats, whether it was Calvin Klein or Ralph or Armani, and this is probably in the 90's, early 90's. Kind of fell in love with the idea of designing clothes and I knew when I had to move to New York City — I graduated college, I originally was studying architecture and switched to design. I always had an affinity for design and in general making things look better — I knew if I wanted to be any good at what I was doing, that I needed to work for the best and Ralph, for me, was it. He epitomizes American style and luxury. So that’s where I started. 

I always had this affinity for American sportswear and what that meant. I think it's changed over time and what I love about American style is it's always evolving whether its street style today that's kind of coming in sneakers. But there's always kind of like a steady thread of Americana whether it's madras or like I'm really big into sac suits right now, little oversized, but also having something that's a bit irreverent so it's not quite expected and always a little bad boy. 

That to me is what I strive to be. The best of American sportswear but always adding my spin on it. Whether it's the stuff I do with Champion or the stuff I do with Timex, I always try to make something just a bit more edgy - not quite as expected. Champion really allows me to play in the street style a lot more.

 

 

Derek: This idea of American heritage, how does it leave room to evolve AND stay timeless? I think you touched on that a little bit with street wear, so I'd like to dig a little deeper. How does street wear influence Todd Snyder? 

Todd: Any time I do a collaboration, I try to do it as authentically as possible. For me, Champion invented activewear. I mean, they started in 1919 well before Nike, Adidas, or Puma was ever a thought. I wanted to work with the originator, that was a really big reason for me. Champion has such great legacy, even in the early 70s and 80s, they were doing all the uniforms for most the NBA and a lot of colleges. They embodied that true ‘athletic department’ feel. Anything I do I try to do it from a place of authenticity because I think it makes it real and it doesn't look like I'm just trying to copy cat something - when I do my collaborations I try to bring it to a different place so I call ours "gentleman's hype". Just because there's a different lens from my customer’s point of view, my guys are not going to be waiting in line at Kith to get a pair of sneakers and aren’t going to be searching Stockx. They want to casually come in, buy things that are tasteful and current. They don't have to be super cutting edge and have the most rare item, but they want to make sure they are relevant, today. I try to do that with all of the collaborations I do because all of them are exclusive. That exclusivity allows me to play in different arenas. Whether it's doing Champion or Red Wing - which is a little more workwear-heritage - it allows me to play in multiple directions that I don't necessarily define my entire collection towards. 

I try to have something for everybody, I want us to be the one stop shop guys. So he can get something on the weekend if he's going hiking or if he's a surfer he can get a pair of Birdwell trunks or if he's wanting something that's cool that he can wear to the gym or a cool hoodie underneath his sport coat or top coat, we have that. 

The beauty of fashion is that it evolves and changes, thankfully! Otherwise we'd all be very bored and nobody really likes to look like everybody else, everyone wants to have their own identity and what I try to do is just give a small edit of what I think our guy wants to wear. You know he doesn't want to be super trendy but he also doesn't want to be super behind and it's about striking that balance.

 

 

Derek: For me and my personal style, you give men great basics that we can count on, but have a little edge thrown in there where we can set ourselves apart without being trendy.

Todd: Yeah that's well said I mean that's essentially what I try to do. I try to update every basic piece a guy should own, whether its a chino and doing it in a stretch fabric. Fit is really important to me and I know a lot about it, so I try to make the best fitting pant that’s semi universal - meaning it's going to fit a lot of people - and the same thing with a t-shirt. Give something that's slightly different whether it’s - you know we make our shirts in LA, which I love - and it's a really good quality and we do a pocket tee with a little button thrown on it that also identifies it, in a way. It’s kind of like your little badge of honor. 

"It's really hard to design things that are timeless"

Derek: So if you were to back away from apparel as the medium, just design in general, how do you define great design?

Todd: I think it's in the eye of the beholder. Everybody is different. For me, I've always been a huge follower of architecture and kind of the modern sensibility that started in the 20s with the Bauhaus. It's amazing how that stuff is still current. I look at buildings that are older than me and I'm still like “God, it looks like it was built 10 years ago!” It's still relevant. It's pretty special when you can look at something and it is timeless. It's really hard to design things that are timeless, especially in architecture because it takes years to build that stuff and they usually stay around for a very long time. But design for me kind of takes on that form, the part that I like that has somewhat of a timeless sensibility. Something that you can add to your wardrobe or even your interior or even a car, for me my favorite cars are old cars because they came around - there are beautiful cars coming out today that I find gorgeous but nothing beats an old vintage Land Cruiser, Mercedes-Benz, or Porsche. There's something about it, it was produced in such a limited way and there's a feeling you have - it's like when you walk into someone's home and it sets the tone for you. Whether its a peacefulness or this kind of serenity, or going into a hotel and you just fall in love with how it makes you feel. That to me represents great design, how it connects with you from a feeling and for me, more from like a relaxation point of view. There's something clean and simple about it that appeals to me. But it comes through in a lot of different ways, whether its interior design, art, photography, apparel, automotive design - anything that you're looking at that gives you this sense of serenity and peacefulness. 

 

 

 

 

Derek: When you're in a rut or you have a creative block, how do you resolve it?

Todd: Travel. Travel is the easiest way because it gets me out of my day to day. It’s watching people, seeing something new. Japan always blows my mind every time I go. But anytime I go anywhere, even if I'm going to South Carolina or Kansas City I still get inspiration. Not only that, but sometimes going on vacation and putting yourself in the place of, let’s say Palm Beach this weekend visiting family. It's a different environment and everybody here is very preppy. It doesn't mean I'm all of a sudden going to start dressing super-preppy, but I'm still going to have my own sense here. So I play with my mind and figure out, okay I'm packing for a trip to wherever and I want to still look good, not look completely from left field but still look like I'm ‘dressing the part’. That, for me is always a really interesting thing to look at when I'm traveling. Traveling always kicks me into gear again.

Derek: What are you consuming right now? Books, television, podcasts, wine, products, what are you into? 

Todd: I'm super into podcasts right now. That’s my newest addition. I know I'm probably late to the game, but there are some really amazing stories out there and people are being really candid and it's pretty awesome. People are telling their whole story for you to hear and you don't have to wait for it to get on 60 Minutes now. You can actually hear it on a podcast, and you probably hear more of it, which is kind of cool. 

 

 

 

Derek: I know you're a collector. What are your top three pieces?

Todd: Watches for me have always been, I'd say more so an Achilles heel, but I love them. Since opening my store two years ago, I have a steady feed of new watches that come through the door and I'm always like “Ah I need that one!” So I'll either trade or purchase a new one once in a while, which is an expensive hobby, but that's definitely one of my favs. More recently I built an old vintage car with FJ Co. We rebuilt a 1978 Land Cruiser. I'm pretty excited about it. I'm definitely not an expert, but it's a fun project. And then the third is, I collect old Champion sweatshirts and T-shirts. I'm a sucker anytime I see something that's super rare, I gotta have it. We frame a few throughout the office, when we had the store we had them framed in the store but that's something, if I find something that's super rare, no matter where I am if I'm traveling in Japan, Europe, at the Rose Bowl Flea Market, or even just online I've got ta have it. I think right now I'm probably well over a thousand pieces that I've collected but it's not a good habit either cuz i'm running out of space.

Derek: So I could not be more excited to welcome you as an Autotype Design Club Member. The premise here is that I want to celebrate design. I want to create a design community where we turn people on to new things. Where we celebrate what you do and I think, most importantly, is preserve craft. I want to connect future designers, I want to give them the leg-up that you and I have been so fortunate to have. So what excites you about Autotype and why?

Todd: I see something that's missing in the industry or a brand that's kind of become dormant and I want to bring it back to its original prowess but then also it’s exciting to work and play in someone else's sandbox and play with their toys. That for me is super exciting and working with other people that are creative always help to inspire me. And if anything I always learn I get different cues and different ideas when I watch somebody else's process. It inspires me to think differently and I think that's part of being creative, is always trying to think differently. Working with like-minded individuals and working with creatives, the whole thing swells together and I think people do more when they're in a community, feeding off each other through inspiration and support. 

 

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