Suit Up, Gentlemen: Confidence is Classic
As a man that finds himself in a suit on a regular basis, I'm always on the lookout for accessories that help me to stand out from the crowd. Let's face it, a guy in a suit - in a sea of guys in suits - is pretty unremarkable. When I wear a suit, I like to stand out and, aside from a well-cut, tailored suit (which is a standout all on its own) it's all about color and pattern. I've been exploring patterns for ties, pocket squares, shirts (especially florals...I guess I got caught up in Spring) and I've come across a few brands that knock it out of the park in terms of design and quality. Some of my favorites are easily Bonobos, Jack Spade, and Original Penguin. They're classic, quality brands that deliver on design every time.
Recently, I happened to meet a young designer out of Australia with an eye for classic design and details that hearken back to a Mad Men-esque bespoke style that I have a particular taste for. The style for men of that era - real or re-imagined on television screens the world over - insinuated attention to detail and an appreciation for the rhetorical aspect of dress. The act of putting on a suit in such a context, then, could slip seamlessly into ritual - a rite of power, almost, that communicated confidence, strength, and precision. In many ways, our ideas about the masculine aura - the look and feel of a man - were made manifest in the suit, itself, and the art of wearing one.
Shar Miclat understands and admires this aesthetic and ritual almost as much as I do and, as it turns out, has let that guide her in her mission to dress men well. Shar is the consummate creative and visionary with an eye for the bespoke and an easy, approachable style. I caught up with her recently to chat about her recent endeavor and, well, because I was hoping she'd decide to dress me up in some of her duds. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a nice, new tie.
MIC: So, you know I'm a fan of the Don Draper-esque, smoky, jazz-bar aesthetic in my professional style and, when I heard about your new venture and got a chance to see some of your pieces, I was excited. I liked your attention to the fabric, pattern, and color - all of your pieces felt 'classic' and easily wearable. What inspires SuitUp Australia?
SHAR: Technically speaking, the design and inspiration for the product is based on WGSN market research on what men are typically looking for in their garments. The various choices of fabric used is carefully chosen in order to provide variety from cotton to silk, denim and etc. I like to think that the individual beauty in every product complements and even augments the confidence of the man wearing it. A man may wear a $2000 suit and $200 tie, but if he isn't comfortable and confident in the outfit as an expression of who he is then I would say it's ruin. Confidence is always the key. That's where I begin when I'm thinking about interesting design and choices of fabric. That's always my point of reference.
MIC: I think that's evident in the pieces you offer. The bold florals, patterns, and knits speak to that inspiration and introduces a sense of easy confidence. I'm interested in how you got here, how you started. How did you get into the fashion/retail business? What's your origin story?
SHAR: I started when I was 16 years old. When I was in college, I used to search for products that I liked, buy in bulk, and then market that to consumers. That's essentially how my business works. Then after few years, I started working in advertising for a fashion magazine and that's where I started dreaming about really getting into fashion. In fact, I'm currently attending graduate school with a focus on fashion entrepreneurship. I love the men's fashion world and I'm having so much fun with my brand, and I'm excited about how much of what I'm learning is already helping with my business. One of my recent projects was to design a boyfriend jean with SPJWM, a group of graduate students, in partnership with Australian local brand, DENIMSMITH and I had so much fun throughout the process. The experience is giving me a lot ideas.
MIC: Speaking of ideas, what are some trends and styles that excite you right now? The florals are beautiful, and right on trend, but you're also carrying knits and denim. That's not all that common, and I think it speaks to your unique approach to dressing men. What's informing your current product line?
SHAR: Call me old-fashioned, but I really enjoy studying men's choices in accessories and embellishment when wearing a suit. Like so much of life, it's all about the details. What really excites me, though, is the almost limitless variety of style the suit can accommodate. At the moment, I'm really inspired by the variety of ways guys can mix it up with casual wear - a great suit with a nice pair of sneakers and a plain, white tee can really set a room on fire. If only you have the confidence to pull it off, of course.
Looking for a sharp new tie and a confidence boost? Check out SuitUp Australia and get you some.