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Let's Hear It for the Boys

Kanye West, Jessica Alba, Penn Badgley, and More Salute GQ's Best New Menswear Designer Nominees

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Rick Klotz of Warriors of Radness, Kirk Miller of Miller's Oath, Alexander Wang, and Michael Bastian   
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The lines outside the Ace Hotel stretched long enough that passersby stopped to stare. They'd be surprised to find out why. The agitated scrum was queuing up for…menswear? The presence of some high-profile fans, like Penn Badgley, Jessica Alba, Aziz Ansari, and Kanye West, may have helped.

Guys do sometimes get the short end of the stick during fashion week—which has led more than a few men's designers to long for a week of their own—but at GQ's annual bash for its Best New Menswear Designer in America prize finalists, every man is a king. Even if every Best New Menswear Designer isn't, strictly speaking, new. "It's a wonderful surprise," said nominee Michael Bastian, who got the tip for his line for Gant. "I've been around for five years now. I never thought I'd be considered a newcomer again."

Gant by Michael Bastian is one of six labels in the running for the prize, which includes the chance to design a capsule collection for Dockers. It's joined by T by Alexander Wang, Patrik Ervell, Miller's Oath, Warriors of Radness, and Riviera Club. That's a healthy mix of young upstarts and established vets, but newbies and pros alike were a little dazed by the attention. "I think in a situation like this, you try to think of a non-cliché word to say," said Riviera Club's Derek Buse, whose first-ever NYFW presentation is today. "I'll say, 'baffling.' "

"I think what's really important to us is that we see the conviction," said GQ's creative director, Jim Moore, taking a break from walking Kanye through the collections to explain his selection criteria. For his part, at least, Bastian had an iron-clad conviction: that he wouldn't win. "I'm like the Brooklyn Dodgers," he said with a laugh. "I get to the final, but…I'm a nomination magnet and a winning repellent." He and his fellow nominees find out today if this is the year he seizes the pennant—er, prize.

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