Details: Is American style definable?
John Varvatos: I think American style is a little more relaxed than most of the world.
Thom Browne: Itís more like America itselfitís liberating and free.
Michael Bastian: You look at Italian guys and they are always perfect. They have the perfect haircut and the perfect manicure and their shoes are shined. Everything is so precise. And then youíll see an American guy and he can be just as handsome and just as striking but in a completely different way. Itís a little more undone.
Details: So itís about looking good but looking like you didnít put too much effort into it?
JV: Kind of imperfectly perfect.
TB: Thereís nothing worse than a guy who looks like he thinks too much about getting dressed in the morning.
Details: Is there an era in American style that defines your aesthetic?
JV: Iím not so hooked on a person, and I donít have a muse. But fashion and rock and roll have been tied together since the fifties, starting with Elvis Presley.
TB: I do really look at the fifties and sixties as almost the true American sensibility. I always bring it back to that American Brooks Brothers idealthe sack suit almost defined American clothing around the world.
MB: You romanticize the period you didnít live through. I have no romance for the mid-eighties because I lived it. What I do comes from that kind of weird post-Studio 54 period up to the Preppy Handbook, which I think was a little more authentic.
Details: What do you think the perception is abroad about the way American men dress?
TB: I think peopleís perception of Americans is that sometimes they are a little too casual in how they put themselves together.
JV: Or a little sloppy.
MB: I also think theyíre judging that on the tourists they see and not necessarily on how real people here dress.
Details: How does celebrity style influence what you do?
MB: There are celebrities where you can actually see their own personal style, like Kanye West, and tell that theyíre not relying on a stylist. Then there are the ones you can see that have really been styled.
Details: Such as?
MB: Open up any magazine. Itís really easy to pick them out.
TB: Thatís why the whole celebrity culture of celebrities dictating whatís going on in fashion is not reality. Itís somebody else picking it out for them.
MB: Wouldnít you rather see a good personal mistake than a perfect projection?
Details: What American menpast or presentdo you think have great style?
JV: I thought Steve McQueen was just amazing. He could pull off just wearing a white T-shirt and a pair of jeans. He was sexy and masculine. He was the American guy.
TB: And JFK. I think itís the hardest question. You see style more on people that you donít know, ones you see just on the street.
MB: Right now Iím really inspired by JFK Jr. He definitely thought about his personal style, but it never looked like he thought about it.