"Emerging" demands context. When the CFDA Award nominations were announced earlier this month, menswear designer Todd Snyder found himself up for the Swarovski Award, given annually to an emerging designer. Snyder's label is now in its third season. Recent enough. His menswear career, on the other hand, is past its second decade, cruising toward a third.
Snyder is a veteran of Ralph Lauren and of J.Crew, where he was instrumental in steering the retailer from starchy prep to the weather-beaten, Americana look it is still honing and refining today. It's a look, in fact, that's had enormous purchase not only at J.Crew but in American menswear across the board, and it endures at Snyder's own line. What Todd Snyder lacks in shock of the new, in other words, he comes by honestly. He's been doing it since long before many of his competitors, whatever appearances may suggest. It's the name that's now emerging.
The look as Snyder describes it is American classic meets London's Jermyn Street: Workwear meets tailored elegance. Those words are threatening to disintegrate from overuse by men's editors. Suffice it to say in Snyder's case, details vintage (flatlock stitching on the sleeves of a waffle tee) and modern (a shirt placket slightly shrunk, shirt buttons slightly enlarged) serve to differentiate his collection from the crowd. So does its reasonable price point, thanks to global production at many of the same producers Snyder first discovered when working for the megabrands. That means leather jackets made in China but at factories that emphasize handwork; tailoring in collaboration with Southwick, the historic Massachusetts label now owned by Brooks Brothers. It's been a slow entrance to the market for Snyder, who left J.Crew in 2008. "I turned 40; it was time for me to pursue my dream," he said. Dreams and global financial meltdowns don't mix easily, hence the slight delay. But Snyder has proven worth the wait. "Emerging," at last.