Menswear designer Mark McNairy is the consummate contrarian.
A former creative director for J. Press, an Ivy League–inspired clothing brand so goddamned preppy it was actually founded on Yale's campus, McNairy titled his new book F**k Ivy **and Everything Else (Harper Design, $29.99). Part fashion bible, part lifestyle guide, part compendium of its author's random likes (the Tracy Morgan SNL character Brian Fellow, Ayn Rand character Howard Roark, Popeyes chicken, Levi's jeans) and dislikes (Shinola timepieces, aka shit), the book ends with an imperative: “Please disregard everything I have said in this book. Keep buying useless shit that will end up in the landfill. It is good for the economy.”
He continues, “I like you. Do you like me?”
It's safe to say he doesn't actually care if you like him. He has plenty of friends: Pharrell Williams, with whom he collaborated on the label Bee Line for Billionaire Boys Club; style icon Nick Wooster, who wrote the book's foreword; the creative director at GQ. Bona fides aside, McNairy doesn't take himself seriously. He doesn't take fashion seriously, either.
A North Carolina native who's called New York City home for a number of years, McNairy relocated to L.A. last August. Via email, I asked him some questions about his new home, his book and his idols.
Gwynedd Stuart: After growing up in the South and then spending years and years in NYC, what brought you to L.A.?
Mark McNairy: FYI, I have not grown up. That said, I guess I just needed a change.
Since no one walks in L.A. (cliche but go with it), is it tougher here to draw inspiration from street fashion, or is that not your thing?
My ideas are usually inspired from nonfashion sources. Take a walk through the Kmart at Third and Fairfax and maybe you'll get an idea of what I talkin' 'bout, Willis. We usually go to the Pasadena and Long Beach flea markets on the weekends. But actually I got enough stored in the hard drive in my head to last for quite a while.
Are there any egregious faux pas being committed en masse in L.A.?
I think it is more of a worldwide problem. Just people thinking too much, not thinking for themselves and tryin' too hard. But we have to be grateful for these people, because if they did not exist, who would we have to make fun of?
When you were young, when did you first start thinking about fashion?
Are you saying that I am old? I have vague memories from when I was still in my mother's womb, I could sense that her obstetrician was wearing a black leather belt with brown suede loafers. I was simply appalled. That was, to the best of my recollection, my first encounter with an egregious fo' paw.
Is it controversial to write a fashion bible that ends with the instruction for the reader to forget everything you've just said?
While the book contains some valuable information, the intention is pure entertainment, as that is what fashion is. Entertainment.
In short, why “fuck ivy”?
Because following the rules is for pussies.
If you had to pick one rule from the book that is supreme above all others (because a reporter asked you to pick one), what would it be?
Who are you more like: Howard Roark or Brian Fellow?
A perfect mix of both. A determined idiot.