Last month, ‘My Affair’ wondered what Michael Bastian was like in college at Babson.
Thanks to GQ, we now know!
In case you haven’t seen an issue of GQ for the last five years, Michael Bastian started his eponymous label in 2006 and since then has emerged as one of the key members in the new American menswear establishment by creating classic clothes that are tailored, literally, to the needs of modern men. Critical acclaim and a cult following soon gave way to a collaboration with GANT, which has been equally successful. We sat down with the designer prior to the Fall 2012 GANT by Michael Bastian presentation to find out why he’s going back to school this season, and what he simply can’t live without.
This collection was born out of your college years in Boston and a mod revival that was happening during that time. What were some of the key pieces from that period that you felt were appropriate to bring back and reinterpret for Fall 2012?
Well when you’re talking about mod you have to have that perfect little black jacket and the button down where the collar’s a little shorter and the skinny ties and the pointy shoes and all of that. And these are all things that I don’t naturally do in my own line or with GANT so it was kind of fun to push myself. You know, I don’t play around with black so it was nice to kind of explore that in a nice GANT way, in an accessible way. When I looked back, the way that we all dressed, it was a little bit mod but it was a lot preppy and that never changes.
Speaking of, you mentioned in your inspiration for this collection that the mod and preppy overlap a bit. Are you referring to the spirit of the two styles or is there a more specific element the two share?
There are these shrunken, shaggy sweaters and gingham and checkerboard pattern all over the place. It’s one of those things that I always have a hard time putting into words but you know it when you see it. You know, clothes are kind of my language and I have a hard time translating it into words.
When the GANT by Michael Bastian line started it was positioned as the younger brother to your full line collection. Do you still see the GANT by Michael Bastian guy as that younger sibling?
No, not at all. Something happened in the six seasons we’ve been doing this with GANT. It started that way, and that was kind of my effort to make sure the lines each had their own separate identity. They were brothers but they had their own spirit, their own look, everything. I started wearing tons of GANT myself, mixing it up with my own stuff from the main line and I was seeing my friends and my customers doing the same thing, and what I realized is they’re a lot closer than I may have originally thought. I think I now approach GANT as more the sportswear end of my world, so maybe it’s 75% sportswear, 25% tailored and dressed up and with my designer line it’s kind of the opposite. And I think if you put these two collections together you kind of have this great Michael Bastian lifestyle brand. The two halves kind of fit together nicely. So I don’t know if the little brother grew up or I grew up, but I think they’re a little closer than I may have once thought.
You have your main collection clothing line and GANT by Michael Bastian. Is there any uncharted design territory for the Michael Bastian brand you’d like to explore next?
Yeah, you know there is and we kind of took our first baby step in it. The program we’re doing with Barneys with the suit, shirt, and tie. Now that’s a great classification for us because in our own line and with GANT we don’t sell suits as a full suit. And suits are kind of an exciting moment right now, which sounds crazy to say that suits are where the excitement is, but all these young guys are approaching suits in a whole new way. I had always thought maybe there’s a business in that suit, shirt, tie thing and then Barneys came to me so we’ll see. We also have the whole world of licensing to explore with Michael Bastian. You know I’m dying to get a fragrance, I’m dying to get a footwear license, all those things. But the framework is set-up and I’d be very happy to keep it the way it is. I don’t have a diffusion line, per se, I have a sportswear line and I have a designer line and they fit together.
The cult of Michael Bastian is not only interested in the designer’s goods but also his preferences on everything outside of fashion. So we asked him to give us a quick punch list of what he’s into at the moment, from his preferred watch to the stylish guys out there we should all be watching.
Watch you’re currently wearing?
GANT by Michael Bastian limited edition MB3 watch
Drink of choice?
It’s kind of ghetto but right now, vodka and Orangina.
The one style item you can’t live without?
Well it’s winter right now, so shearling-lined L.L. Bean boots.
Book you are currently reading?
The Journals of John Cheever
TV shows you’re into?
Lately it’s been on demand episodes of South Park and Family Guy.
Last great movie you saw?
Beginners with Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor
Best place to travel to in the world right now?
The great place I’ve just recently discovered is the Canary Islands.
Here at GQ we’re obviously interested in who stylish men like yourself look at as having great personal style. Is there anyone at the moment that you look to?
I have to say it’s guys like [GQ fashion editor] Justin Doss and Eric Wunsch from Barneys and Antonio Ciongoli from my team. They are young guys that really have great style and really enjoy dressing up. Antonio will come to the office sometimes and he’ll be wearing more of Michael Bastian and I’ll be wearing more of the GANT collection. So it’s these young guys who are really brining their game every day and dressing up but doing it in a new way.