August 21 2014

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A Man’s World: Nick Wooster Talks Pitti


Nick Wooster at Pitti

Nick Wooster’s dandyish look has long mesmerized menswear show-goers. With his handlebar mustache, tattoo sleeves, and eclectic outfits (like the embroidered shorts, relaxed blazer, and snazzy leopard Celine shoes he wore during this week’s Pitti fair, above), he’s crafted an aesthetic that’s uniquely his own. Having served as the mennswear fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, as well as the menswear creative director at JC Penney (a post he left in April of this year), Wooster is not only catnip for street style paps, but a seasoned industry expert. Here, the man talks to about Pitti, the state of menswear, and his plans for the future.

When did you first start coming to Pitti?
I did my first Pitti in January of 1988.

What’s changed since then
Absolutely nothing. Well, actually, in a certain way, nothing has changed, and then obviously, everything has. The heart of Pitti has always been the same. Look at someone like Lino or Peter Rizzo, who was the person who brought me to my first Pitti. He still comes, and so many of the players are the same. I think that’s the story of menswear, the story of Italy, and the story of Pitti.

You’re known for your personal style. Do you turn it up for the shows?
No. I mean, at the end of the day, I’ve always felt the need and desire to be different. The worst part for me is figuring out what I’m going to bring. I brought twice as much as I’m going to need so there’s always a bit of a problem in the morning, like, “Shit what am I going to wear?” But that’s the story of my life. I never know what I’m going to wear until I get out of the shower.

What are your fashion week essentials?
I feel like the needs have changed so much. I’m actually dragging around a bag, which, twenty years ago I had to do, but today, everything can be contained on a phone, so I don’t have to. It’s kind of stupid. But a charger is probably the single most important accessory—or at least an extra battery. The fact is that our lives have changed so much. You really can’t function without a phone or an iPad. It’s all here.

What’s been your favorite thing you’ve seen at the fair?
My favorite thing that I’ve seen is Mark McNairy in a chambray dress. I will absolutely be wearing that, and I will absolutely be ridiculed for it.

Are there any newcomers that you think we should keep our eyes on?
I came to Pitti to be on the jury for the Who’s On Next award, and the hat line Super Duper that won is super cute, super cool. Matteo Gioli, who runs it alongside these two sisters, is the quintessential ambassador for the brand. I think it speaks volumes about the future of menswear and the idea that accessories are taking a front seat in the whole story. The fact that a young guy would want to wear a hat like that when he’s got a full head of hair is so cool.

After attending for so many years, do you feel the menswear shows are glamorous?
[For street style photographers], I’m a Disneyland attraction. How glamorous is it to see It’s a Small World After All 100,000 times? But we are very fortunate to get to travel around the world to see amazing things and for that, I’m super grateful. But it’s work. You’re here for a job, I’m here for a job, and the brands are here for a job. It’s hard work, but the setting makes it seem more glamorous than it is.

What do people who don’t know you think you do for a living?
They might question whether or not I’m homeless? Or…they certainly know that I’m not a plumber. I have no idea. Isn’t it kinda obvious? I’ve been accused of being a barber and a tattoo artist, neither of which I can do.

Now that you’ve left JC Penney, what are you going to do next?
I have a lot of conversations and projects on the horizon. The only things I can confirm are that I’m going to be working with the new shoe brand GREATS, and I’m going to be doing a collaboration with United Arrows, but that’s all I can talk about today.