On Tuesday evening in Florence, Italy, Todd Snyder held the first fashion show for his namesake brand since 2020, and first ever outside of New York. As a menswear mainstay, Snyder is right at home at Pitti Uomo, the historic trade show sponsoring the night’s event. But he’s a bit of an anomaly on the European runway circuit, which opened on Tuesday with Snyder’s Fall-Winter 2024 collection.
For one, self-described haberdashers are about as common on the runways these days as canes and top hats. His brand is only available in America, at least until later this year. He is from Iowa, and his urbane outfit of a black T-shirt and jeans can’t mask some of his hokey dad energy, such as when, an hour before showtime, he described the impending production in charmingly agrarian terms.
“This just feeds the whole ecosystem” of the brand, he said, looking around backstage at a platoon of slouchy young models getting hair touch-ups. “It really waters it. It becomes the sun, it becomes the rain, it becomes the fertilizer, it becomes everything.”
I had asked him why do a runway show at all, given that he does big business selling clothes to guys who know more about Bonobos than Balenciaga. Still, even though you wouldn’t have been able to tell, the middle-aged J. Crew and Ralph Lauren alum is arguably the most important American designer in Europe this season not named Rick Owens or Pharrell.
To be fair, there’s not a ton of competition in that category these days. But Snyder is immensely influential in his own low-key way. Ten years ago, he was manning a booth at the Pitti Uomo fair, wholesaling his burgeoning line of suits and shirts to other shops. In the years since, he’s opened 15 stores, sold the line to American Eagle (2015), and blown past $100 million in annual sales.
What sets his brand apart from the hundreds of others at Pitti Uomo is Snyder’s unmatched sense of how to introduce his customer to new ideas. “I spend a lot of time in the store, and you see guys in there and it’s just like, the thrill of the hunt,” said Jim Moore, Todd Snyder’s go-to stylist (and GQ’s creative-director-at-large). “Todd loves that experience. You go in for a gray suit and walk out with a green shearling.”
It’s a subtle move, one that Snyder honed while at J. Crew in the late-aughts where he presided over the introduction of the slim Ludlow suit and the opening of the Liquor Store, a multi-brand boutique for high-end menswear disguised as a J. Crew shop. (Todd Snyder took over the Liquor Shop’s Tribeca storefront when J. Crew moved out in 2019.) He designs familiar pieces in unexpected ways—he rightly takes credit for the resurgence of the Gurkha short—and combines them so that the unexpectedness suddenly feels essential. The move is so subtle, in fact, that it leaves the customer feeling like taking a style risk was their idea, even though Snyder had been laying the groundwork all along.
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