Jeremy Kirkland, Keeper of Menswear Wisdom
On his podcast Blamo!, menswear sage Jeremy Kirkland has interviewed a carousel of style demigods. Editors, writers, stylists, designers, and a host of other really, really ridiculously well-dressed people show up to discuss their style, how they got where they are, and the industry in general (watches, in particular). So we turned the table and gave Kirkland the full Blamo! Treatment.
Bonobos: I wanted to put a distinction before you that writer Bruce Boyer raised in his Blamo! interview: Are you a “fashion” person or a “clothes” person?
Jeremy Kirkland: Is it rude to say both? Because I like fashion, but I think it depends on the interpretation — I think every person’s interpretation of “fashion” is somewhat different. For me, it’s more about having a community. “I wear X brand, therefore I am in this community.” Really at the end of the day, people just want to be accepted and liked and cared about. I’m more attracted to that than to the clothing that they’re wearing. The best thing that ever has happened to me is just being allowed to be in the same room as some of the people that I like. And looked at as a peer. I actually never really care about what anyone’s wearing
With that in mind, how important is it to you that someone you admire appreciates what you’re wearing?
I think the people that I want to accept me would ever accept me or not accept me because of what I’m wearing. Hopefully, these people that I’ve built up in my head are bigger than the clothes.
Who’s the person you’ve interviewed whom you most kind of wanted to impress?
[Designer] Sid Mashburn is one. I just admire that guy for never losing track of what he wanted to do. There are people I’ve talked to whose brands are not the brands that they were five years ago. And that’s not bad. But I’ve always admired someone like Sid because he’s following his vision and he’s staying true to that, versus trying to morph his brand to the trends. [Bergdorf Goodman’s Men Director] Bruce Pask is another one — just because that dude is a tireless workhorse. He’s not there to try to get people to accept him. He’s just there to do his job. I think it’s really only been in the past 10 years or so that these people who are, in a way, “office employees,” have become celebrities in their own right. A lot of it is social media.
Are you critical of that kind of celebrity?
No! But I think the best thing that has come from talking to all these people is getting to really know them. Otherwise, we just know them through imagery. Like Scott Schuman [creator of The Sartorialist] is a dad. He’s a dad who loves his daughters. Obviously, that doesn’t belittle any of the amazing talent that he has or the things that he’s done or accomplished, but they’re people — they’re men and women who work at an office. That’s it. That inspires not just me, I think, but also listeners.
Moving into your personal style: You’re a dad! What’s happened to your style since you became a father?
What percentage of your wardrobe was washable before?
Five. It was always dry-clean — or it was bespoke, or it was custom. I was able to get those clothes through my career — I could never afford all that. It was bespoke pants and bespoke jackets. And trying to carry around a baby just doesn’t work.
How about now?
All washable. Now it’s things that require less maintenance, like polo shirts. And there are really no logos on anything that I have, anymore. I sold all the Supreme I ever owned.
Was that an existential “I’m a father now” moment?
It was something that I really liked. And I saw kids wearing it. And a part of me is like: Oh man, I’m a dad, I’ve got to put away all this stuff. I just got rid of all of it. I cared so much about earning money just to buy crap that I don’t really need. Having a kid has made me edit more than I ever have in my life. I can’t own 30 sweaters. Why did I want to own 30 sweaters?
What’s the one dad style move you’re never going to make?
I think I will always have a vice for really nice shoes. I’m never going to be in the Kirkland Signature shoes — no shot against Costco. And the funny thing is I actually bought the Kirkland Signature shoes. I bought them and I wore them once, and I was like what am I doing?
What do you have to put on the rest of your person to balance out the Kirkland Signature shoes?
You have to be like John Mayer or Jon Caramanica. Just be in this echelon of coolness.
What’s the one accessory that can save any outfit?
Shoes. Or a sport coat. Just a simple navy sport coat.
What are the biggest fit mistakes you see?
Fit is relative. We’re at an age in fashion now where people are spending a lot of money to wear clothes that are 10 times their size.
Last question: What’s the least flattering street style photo that has ever been taken of you?
Do you somehow know the answer to this question?
No, but now I’m really excited.
It’s not a photo, actually. It’s called a test shot. I know that discussing this will revive a portion of the internet that existed about 10 years ago and may not exist anymore. But there is an amazing videographer, photographer — dude — named Jake Davis. Back in the early days of blogs, he did these things called test shots. This is pre-Instagram, this is pre-all this stuff. They were 45-second videos that were in slow motion, of a person wearing clothes. He would do different shots in the video that would be all the details of the person—the collar, the jacket, whatever. He did a test shot of me. He had a comment section. And the comments were always pretty rough, but the comment section of my test shot was awful. So bad that I went to therapy over it.
And you got over it?
That stuff really, really messes with people. In a weird way, everything I’ve done since then in fashion has been for the next person who gets some sort of test shot and gets roasted on the internet.
Lauren Larson is a writer and editor in New York City, aspiring to be a writer and editor in Bali.
Photos by Meredith Jenks.