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Designers Weigh In On Their GQ Menswear Award Nominations

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Six designers’ fashion week just got a little brighter. GQ and Levi’s announced the nominees this morning for the third annual Best New Designer in America award. To the winner: bragging rights and—here’s where we get in on the action, too—a limited-edition menswear capsule collection with Levi’s, to be sold in Bloomingdale’s nationwide. This year’s nominees include CFDA award winners and relative newcomers alike: Richard Chai, Billy Reid, J.Crew’s Frank Muytjens, Burkman Bros’ Ben and Doug Burkman, Caulfield Preparatory’s Vincent Flumiani, and Unis’ Eunice Lee are all in the running for the prize, which will be judged by a panel of editors, retailers, and Levi’s executives and celebrated with an event during NYFW.

Were these all dyed-in-the-wool Levi’s wearers? “I’m an old-timer,” Billy Reid laughed when we caught him on the phone at his Alabama studio. “Working with Levi’s would just be awesome, man—a dream situation. I’ve still got a pair from high school. I think they’ve got more patches than blue jeans left on them. I need to lose about 15 pounds to get into them, but…” Eunice Lee—the first woman nominated in the history of the prize—has been a longtime fan, too. “If you look at pictures of me since my Parsons days, I’ve had Levi’s on for all of my life,” she said, noting that she prefers vintage men’s styles.

Of course, before they get to design their own, they’ve got to show their own Fall collections to the judging panel. Reid’s Fall looks draw on turn-of-the-century American workwear, and are produced largely, for the first time, here in the states. And as for Lee, she’s been thinking of midcentury sportsmen—in particular, climbers from the sixties. “Climbers back then didn’t have the North Face and all that stuff,” she said. “It was about your cotton waxed jacket and heavier twills and things like that. Colors were dustier, more cotton-based, as opposed to super-crazy neon colors. It’s sportswear,” she added with a laugh, “in the original sense.” May the best man—or woman—win.

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