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At Cottage Miami, that ultra-chic new menswear boutique in Sunset Harbour, Michael Bastian started talking to us about what makes a good interview and what makes a painful one on a white linen couch. Michael is a luxury-sportswear men's designer who's eponymous label has a following of very stylish men, especially those over six feet tall who usually can't find the right length sleeve from an off-the-rack shirt, like LeBron James.
Surrounded by clothes from less than ten of the coolest contemporary menswear designers, most of who, like Michael, have CFDA accolades (think: Band of Outsiders, ACME, Oviedo and Sons, Todd Snyder), we sipped on a glass of rosé, uncovered a men's fashion conspiracy, and talked about what you should wear if you're hungover:
What can you tell me about the clothes that are here today?
It's a nice selection of our Spring '14. Cottage has their selection and we wanted to really round it out. We wanted to have a really great trunk show experience. Usually you come to a trunk show and place an order. We thought, let's try something new. You can come and buy it and take it right away.
How did you go about picking what would be appropriate?
We just picked what would be appropriate for Miami. We didn't bring any suits, we didn't bring tuxedos. It's not as scientific as you would think. It was mostly like "oh this looks cool!" or "I can see this on the beach!"
I have to ask you about these men's leopard prints…
Let me tell you the story. We always do a camouflage pattern. A couple of seasons ago I got bored of regular old camo. So we did a tiger camo and then we did a leopard camo. We did a hibiscus camo, we've done a giraffe camo. I think camo is kind of one step out the door, but it's kind of the one print that every guy is comfortable with.
I love a good leopard. It matches with everything in that it matches with nothing.
Exactly! It's also got that glamorous-slash-kitsch; it can be very Valley of the Dolls or super glam.
I love it for men's, especially because you never really see that. I feel kind of bad for men…
Well did you see that a woman came in and bought that red leopard jacket? It looked great!
Every time I come in here I ask if there are usually a lot of girls shopping here – because I would.
We were saying after she came in and bought that. God, I want to do a girl's line. Because girls shop completely different than how guys shop. Girls come in, see it love it, throw down the card and walk out. A guy comes in, visits it, thinks about it, waits for it to go on sale.
Women spend more, women shop more. It's just a reality of the world. So is that a conversation? When you're going to make something for women?
We did a women's collection with GANT for Michael Bastian for a couple seasons and it was really fun, but what we learned was that [womenswear] moves so fast and there are so many women's designers. I'm comfortable with men's because I'm a man, so I know what I want. At least for a certain group of guys I know there's a need for this. I've always felt like it's a hard thing to design for the opposite sex.
Do you use yourself mostly as a model?
All the time, it's very personal in that way. I design for what I want to wear myself; I'm our fit model. Our medium size is me. If you're anything like me, it's going to fit you.
Is that unusual?
You know what, it's not that unusual. I'll give you an example. Our sleeves are a little bit longer because I was always so frustrated that I couldn't fit into an off the rack shirt because of my long arms. We're really good for guys who are over 5'11''. Go to another brand with a shorter designer and you'll find, if it's a man designer, designing for men, that it is his shape.
Someone should conduct a thorough experiment on that…
Yeah, LeBron James wears us and Victor Cruz wears us. These big sports guys [wear us] because they never have been able to get a shirt off the rack. When I was at Bergdorf's I could never wear a shirt off the rack like a Thom Browne shirt.
Having a background with Bergdorf's, which is like, the most respected retail institution, and being stocked at stores like Cottage, which is doing a different thing, how do you see retail moving?
What's changed since my Bergdorf days is the online explosion. Anyone can buy anything immediately online. What that's done is make a lot of stores obsolete and they're not so exciting, but it's made room for stores like this that are super edited; where you have the owner that does the buy and that's something you can't necessarily get with an online experience. That's how I think the future of retail is going to shake out.
That's the best-case scenario, right?
These are the stores that I think people want to be around. There are a lot of stores that I don't want to hang out in.
What do you think about Miami style?
I think Miami style is really interesting. I think it's pretty damn glamorous, unlike New England or, say, California. People here are dressed up and are spending a lot of time figuring out what to wear to the beach. And then they go out and get really dressed up. It might be that Latin thing; this is that tiny spot between North America and Latin America and you're getting the best of both. It's exciting.
Whenever I travel I forget how glam Miami is.
This is another world. I went to two parties last night and I usually don't do this, but I was asking people what they were wearing and everything was like this big name. You're also in this resort town and there's a reason why people are here – because they have the money to be here.
Do you have any tips for men who still want to look cool while it's super, super hot here? It's a real sweaty situation here in the summer.
I've got a really good tip: Dark clothes do not show sweat. A plaid linen shirt, you won't see that get wet. I have one that's a navy and green linen plaid. It's super light, a great summer shirt, and you won't see any sweat. White is the worst, so go for a pattern.
What's something every man should have in his closet that maybe he doesn't have already…
A pink oxford - for days you're hungover. A sales guy at Bergdorf Goodman told me that when I worked there and it's the best thing anyone has ever told me about menswear. Everybody looks better in a pink shirt- a little fresher, a little more alive. We always have a pink shirt in the line and this season it says, "This is my hangover shirt" on the collar.
Is there anything that you're drawn to right now that you're really surprised that you're drawn to?
That's a great question. The southwest. There's a Western thing in the air. I've also been listening to a lot of Eagles, which is super random.
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