How would you define your collection? Describe the Lee Allison man.
The Lee Allison Man can be anyone from a 17-year-old preppy guy with fine taste for his age to an 85-year-old dapper gentleman. What they all have in common is an appreciation for fine fabrics, clever designs, craftsmanship, and irreverent humor. If I had to pick one archetype though, it’s the 40-year-old finance guy or lawyer. Overall, our collection is updated traditional with a bold yet tasteful sense of color.
Which “must-have” item from your Spring/Summer 2013 collection will instantly update a man’s wardrobe?
We have some killer Summer plaid ties. The designs are classic (variations on Glen plaids) but the colors are soft and perfect for warm weather and cocktails. My favorite is one we call “Double Over” in pink and gray with a double windowpane overlay in ivory. The same design is also great in a narrow, pointed bow tie.
From where do you draw inspiration?
It’s cliché but I draw inpiration from everything I see around me. I once heard someone talk about an “in the clouds” effect (and this has nothing to do with storing data remotely). This person was referring to the time-honored tradition of lying around on a lazy day, looking up at the clouds and seeing animals in them. Of course, those rabbits are not really there; you just see things that look like rabbits. I find myself constantly looking at things (buildings, wallpaper, carpets etc.) and seeing things that aren’t actually there. Typography is another source of inspiration. I love fonts.
What do you consider to be the world’s best fashion city for men and why?
I think most designers I know would say Milan, or some other Italian city and a hipster designer would likely pick an unusual place that few Americans have visited like Stavanger, Norway or Riga, Latvia. However, I’m going to be boring and practical and say Chicago. Do I really think it’s “the world’s best fashion city?” No, not really, but it is where I live, and where I get the vast majority of my ideas and inspiration. So for me, and probably only me, it is the best fashion city in the world.
What do you think the next major shift in the menswear industry will be?
I think we’re seeing it right now. Rules for men are breaking down and men are increasingly being allowed to show a truly personal sense of style. Jeans can be worn with just about anything now, and with this shift, men are more interested in buying separates. In a sense, menswear is becoming more like womenswear, which is both good and bad. The good news is that young men, more confident and adventurous, are mixing things both high and low. Therefore, clothing is getting easier to wear and more comfortable. The bad news, as we witnessed with “Casual Friday,” is that many men are not always great dressers so those “rules” are useful for many men.
What is your favorite New York City hangout?
Living in Chicago, I don’t have a favorite per se. However, The Beagle on the Lower East Side has a cool atmosphere, great cocktails, and interesting food. Apoteke in Chinatown is a hip and truly hidden speakeasy. For a classic bar, the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel is pretty fantastic. And lastly, on a cold winter’s night, it’s hard to beat the drama of The Campbell Apartment, right in Grand Central. But who said a favorite hangout had to include cocktails? So let me conclude by recommending a walk along either the High Line or the Brooklyn Promenade – both are wonderful ways to spend a lazy morning or late afternoon…before cocktails.