To mark the recent opening of B. at New York’s famous Bergdorf Goodman department store, Brummell speaks to Bruce Pask about the inspiration behind this unusual curatorial project and what it signals about the change in men’s shopping habits.
When you’re the fashion director for a store, you’re necessarily objective. You’re not shopping for yourself, you’re shopping for a customer when you’re out in the market. But of course you can’t help but gravitate towards things you personally love. They could be obscure things; this jacket here, those trousers there. So over time, I just kept taking note of things I wish I could introduce to the store because I liked them. Eventually, I put it all together to create a deck and I presented it to store management. I was really happy to find Bergdorf Goodman was willing to support the concept of me putting together a “personal” wardrobe for our customers.
B. sits somewhere in between our designer fashion on the third floor and our sartorial clothing on the second floor. The concept of this space is more of a comprehensive wardrobe. This clothing can be a little quieter, so it needed a context to really help the customer understand it. Creating this meaningful environment came hand in hand, for me, with collaborating on pieces that were exclusive to the store and that were meaningful to me, and finding and creating pieces that did not only exist in a style vacuum, but that reflected the wants and needs of a wider audience.
The “chore” jacket is one of my favourite examples of this. It’s a very French style and not widely seen in America, however with the move towards a more casual workplace, it’s the perfect alternative to a more tailored jacket. We carry a beautiful style from Le Mont Saint Michel in heavy cotton moleskin, which has been garment-washed exclusively for us to soften the fabric without losing the beautiful colours of French blue, navy or khaki. It’s a piece that’s dressy enough for the office, but also looks great over a T-shirt and with jeans for the weekend.
Then we’ve been lucky enough to build collaborations with some of my personal favourite brands. I’ve been wearing Common Projects [trainers] since they started, so to collaborate with them felt very natural. I’ve also always had a penchant for desert boots – I’ve been wearing them since college – so we created woven suede and leather versions with Clarks. Another collaboration I’ve really enjoyed is with a German company called Closed, with whom we’ve designed a flat front, easy-to-wear khaki pant, alongside a wider leg style, which I personally love and had been difficult to find.
The customer service aspect of B. is very important to me as well. It’s important to have pieces that carry season through season and stay part of the core collection – it’s so great, as a customer, to be able to come back into a store and you know that the trousers you like are always available. We will introduce updates in colours and fabrics through the seasons, but your favourite style will always be there.
One of the amazing things about creating a concept store is giving a platform to lesser-known and younger brands. The idea of B. was largely conceived because I receive so many DMs on Instagram asking me where I had found certain pieces I wear in my posts. It showed me there is a real market for this, and I’ve been so lucky that Bergdorf Goodman has supported me in this endeavour and seen the value in creating a concept store that focuses more on individual pieces. We are able to buy in small quantities – individual products rather than entire collections – and this enables us to support younger brands that may not have the production capacity to produce large amounts.
I’ve been able to bring in brands that I love, such as Beams Plus from Tokyo, Margaret Howell from London and Massimo Alba from Milan, picking out pieces that speak to me. Not feeling the need to represent a brand as a whole collection or category is a real blessing, but I think it is also representative of where shopping is heading. Bergdorf Goodman is known for its edit, and so to have a store like B. where I’m able to merchandise clothes from different vendors together and style a rack more like how a guy would put together his wardrobe, rather than grouping by brand or category, really speaks to the customer.
I really do feel very lucky to be supported by an amazing brand like Bergdorf Goodman – I know I am fortunate that they recognise the merit in approaching the way that clothing is sold in a different way. It’s always wonderful to see that the brands we’ve approached have been so forthcoming and helpful and have seen it as a platform for themselves too, so it really does feel like a collaborative effort.
B. is now open at Bergdorf Goodman, and exclusive products are available to purchase at BG.com/bshop