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August 20 2014

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What We Learned About Mark McNairy From His New York Times Profile

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Mark McNairy, the grumpy patron saint of preppy, street-smart menswear, got the full New York Times Style section treatment yesterday. It took only four seasons of runway shows and countless neon brogues to get there, but he made it! And he has, of all people, Cam’ron, who walked in his Fall 2014 show, to thank for the honor.

The Times notes that McNairy has entered into “a pantheon of designers like Jimmy Choo, Versace, and Manolo Blahnik who are venerated by hip-hop artists.”

OK. Not the selection of designers that comes to mind when you think hip-hop and fashion at the moment—Givenchy, Hood by Air, Alexander Wang, and countless others have close ties to the culture—but that’s beside the point. What’s really special is how much we were able to learn about the angry South Carolinian behind Cam’ron’s custom cape. McNairy is notoriously standoffish. Even reporter Bee Shapiro, the profile author, makes a point to note that the designer is “not exactly warm and fuzzy.” But for menswear nerds who have been following McNairy’s career, there are some wonderful nuggets of knowledge to be found. Here’s what we learned:

In addition to making a collection of capes for Cam’ron, McNairy gets a shout-out on a new track by the rapper. The lyrics: “Sitting in meetings by [BPMW co-owner] Deirdre Maloney / And Mark McNairy / I know you don’t know him / You broke and you phony.”

McNairy is 52.

He recently traveled to Japan to work on a collaboration with Édifice, a Japanese menswear shop.

Cameras make him uncomfortable.

Prior to meeting Pharrell Williams three years ago for their Bee Line collaboration, he was not a fan of hip-hop.

When he was young he amassed a large collection of G.I. Joe action figures (beginning his love for camo prints), which his mother threw away. Harsh. That explains the McNasty nickname.

At one point he “wanted to be Phil Spector and make records.”

He got a business degree from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

“He doesn’t sketch or use computer-aided design, which he believes neuters clothing.”

Photo: Yannis Vlamos / Indigitalimages.com

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