You’ve been busy lately, how’s your day been so far?
It’s unusual, I’m actually getting married tomorrow.
Well, like legally. My wedding’s not going to be until September, but my fiancé is French and she has two sisters and a brother that live in Paris that decided to come over here for that. They flew in last night and I had to do some stuff with them this morning. I mean, this kind of sounds ridiculous for this interview, but we got photographed for Esquire this morning with a handful of other NY-based menswear designers, which is pretty cool. And then we’re also shooting a Spring and Summer look book, so I had to run by the studio for a little while. We’re also thinking about opening a store in Australia (in Sydney) in October, so people that we’re partnering with are in town right now so we have had some meetings for that as well… So just a lot going on.
Well, thanks for finding the time. So let’s start by telling us a little bit about yourself.
I’m from Connecticut and grew up skating and snowboarding, not surfing. I found that when I did make the trips to surf destinations – like to parts of New Jersey for summer vacation or Florida with people that were surfing, I was always fascinated by it, but didn’t really understand it so much. When I went to school in Savannah, Georgia I had friends that were from Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina or Charleston, and all up and down the coast of Florida that were making trips and I started tagging along, then just grew an affinity for the sport.
While at SCAD (Savannah College Of Art & Design) for graphic design and photography, I started working for a magazine called Contents. That was a great experience for me. Now looking back, it was a pretty unusual circumstance that these college kids got to work in publishing. I was making phone calls to the director Mark Romantic, Larry Clark, Nobuyoshi Araki, Dwayne Michaels. I was hitting up all these iconic, very established image makers and creative people and asking them to participate on stuff.
We were both in the same class at SCAD, in the graphic design program and moved to NYC after school. What got you into graphic design and led you to New York in the first place?
In Savannah, Contents Magazine took on an investor who didn’t want to do it anymore, then they closed the doors. I was just finishing up college, spending some time down in Savannah and wanted to go on to the next step. Having an affinity for print and magazines, the mecca is NYC, so I came up here. I had some friends working at the New York Times. I talked to a friend in that pretty close-knit community of people that worked in publishing. A job was available at Marie Claire, which was very different from what I was doing before. It’s not somewhere that I would necessarily want to work right now, but I appreciated the Hearst Corporation in understanding how to talk to a certain demographic / market. There are all these rules that they follow, which have been successful for them. It was interesting to understand that design is subjective and that there are certain ways to speak and communicate with different people. I learned a lot. The person that hired me; Paul Martinez (who was the old art director of GQ) has done a lot of award-wining work. He actually commissioned the Hoefler guys to do the font Gotham, which was commissioned for GQ by him. He was very good with type and other things. I was young and wanted to do more progressive design, so I then got a job at Esquire. I stayed there for a couple years (also in the Hearst family) and it is obviously speaking to a different kind of person than Marie Claire. I was learning how to communicate in that way; using fonts in a specific way, finding similarities between what I wanted to do, what I thought was good and also what was good for that demographic.
From there, I went to Los Angeles Magazine. Then I did another book, “The Big Black Book” for Esquire. Then I did financial magazine called “Portfolio” for Conde Nast, did a travel book for Travel & Leisure, and then I ended up at New York Magazine. So I had all this experience working in different magazines, communicating to different people. It was exciting, but I kinda started getting burnt out on working just for magazines and wanted to see what else was out there. I had friends that worked at different agencies and were able to work on different projects – different styles for each project. But I also felt like it was a great boot camp – just bouncing around and learning how to communicate to different people in weeklies, monthlies, quarterlies, bi-annuals. How to take a font, stretch it and use it in a million different ways. How to do something quick because of a deadline, or putting something into a template so that you could make it look consistent every month, week or depending on the schedule of the publication.
When we started Saturdays, I was working in between a couple different magazines. Actually, the art director of GQ (he’s Russian) was going back to Russia for a couple months so he hired me to fill in temporarily on a freelance basis. So I got to work with Fred Woodward, who was one of my idols. There’s this book that I got early on about Rolling Stone Magazine and Fred was there for a really long time. He did a lot of their best work when it was really seen as a very influential magazine. When you think of like the 80s or the 90s as an interesting design period, his work at Rolling Stone during that time is just awesome. While I was working with him, he’d see something on my screen that I had mimicked from some kind of reference, but he’d know exactly where it came from! He’s a genius and also just a very cool calm guy.
I was working at GQ during the day and I was also doing a project for Esquire at night. That was also kinda when we started Saturdays on the weekends making coffee – it was just a coffee shop at first. Then I eventually got a job at New York Magazine and was able to work with Chris Dixon, who’s also just a really smart guy. I learned a bunch from him. But that was weekly and at the end of the week you’d get the magazine off and be able to leave early. So then I was able to slowly make more time at Saturdays. This is before we made clothes and it was just a cafe at that point, we just started taking on third party brands.