Hello friends. This time I have a great interview with Jason Yeats from Beckett & Robb. But before the actual interview, let me give you a bit of a short background.
But while it’s true that getting to know these people on a superficial level thanks to the easiness of social media platforms, the reality is that it is not until you have the opportunity to ask some longer and more direct questions, that you can really claim to know these icons on a deeper level.
That is just what happened with the interview you are about to read. I thought I knew Jason just by his social media accounts and by shallow interactions we happened to share every now and then.
Which was enough for me to declare myself a big fan of his style and a frank supporter of what he does.
But with the opportunity to ask him these questions, I got to find out much more about him, what are his passions, what are his sources of inspiration and even get to learn a little bit more about how Beckett & Robb operates. And just in case you are not aware yet, Jason is the Co-Founder and CEO of Beckett & Robb, so we’re talking about the real deal here.
You can certainly imagine how exciting this interview was for me. A milestone for the blog? Ah, too wild of a claim, but I guess I could call it that.
So anyway, please take a few minutes to get to know Jason, just like I did. And just like I did, I am sure you will find some style inspiration for yourself and a true admiration for all what he does.
I tell you my dapper friends, he truly is a wonderful gent.
Jason Yeats Interview For My Dapper Self
Ed: Hello Jason. First of all, I’d like to mention it is an absolute honor that you agreed to this interview for My Dapper Self’s blog.
For the few of my readers that are still not familiar with Beckett & Robb, would you please give us a quick introduction to what you gents do?
Jason: Beckett & Robb is a men’s clothing brand. We are based in the United States where we design our products and run a small chain of retail shops. All of our products are constructed in Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal, England, and France). Our focus is on suits, sport coats, dress shirts, dress shoes, and related accessories. We sell ready-to-wear products as well as made-to-measure suits and shirts. We started the business in 2009, in the heart of the recession, with a mission to bring European luxury to America at a mid-market price point. By focusing on a few key supplier and manufacturer relationships, and by eliminating traditional wholesaler mark-ups, we are able to sell an incredibly high quality product at a price that is often 30-50% of the retail price of the old luxury brands with wholesale mark ups and what we consider outrageous margins. Comparing quality is a complicated topic, from raw materials, to country of origin, to the amount of time spent crafting an item, to the techniques used. In short we use only the finest materials, just as the top luxury houses, and we make our products in an environment that takes advantage of technology when those shortcuts have no ill effect on the product, which reduces costs, but still revert to handmade techniques for operations that really don’t offer a substitute without sacrificing quality. We insist on making them in Europe where the quality of craftsmanship and commitment to design is significantly better than what we see coming out of Asia, where costs are far less, but quality suffers. With our supplier network in place our focus today is to bring our products to as many men as possible. We are expanding our chain of company-owned shops and continue to build our online business, where we ship globally.
Ed: What is your role (or roles, one’s gotta multitask these days) in Beckett & Robb’s organization?
Jason: My title is Co-Founder and CEO. I started B&R with my great friend Derek Bleazard. 7 years in, he and I still own the business outright as 50/50 partners. My day to day responsibilities are far ranging, as you mentioned. There isn’t any part of the business that I’m not involved in at some level. Derek takes the lead on our products while I tend to take the lead on sales and marketing. But in general he and I oversee it all and overlap a lot. We have a strong, growing team, too. Our in-store team of Style Consultants is amazing. And our corporate team is small but growing and get credit for all of our recent growth.
Ed: Looking at Beckett & Robb’s pieces, I can see you have managed to find the perfect balance between classic formalwear and fresh trends that allows to keep your work always interesting. What advice would you give to all men out there looking to find this perfect balance in their own style?
Jason: Style is a personal thing and it’s difficult to give advice that will work for everyone. I think the answer lies in the process, not in a specific list of do’s and don’ts. There are so many resources for menswear these days. My advice is to start there. Do some searching for blogs, tumblr accounts, instagram accounts and maybe a magazine or two. I like to keep a folder on my computer where I copy images to that I like from around the web. As the folder fills up with a few dozen images or more, look through it and look for common themes and styles. Perhaps this is an insight into what you personally like. If you couple those preferences with the classic rules you can learn by reading blogs and menswear books, your own personal style will start to take shape. That’s really just stage one though. I know that my style is constantly evolving. Even things I thought I could never like can somehow become appealing. Very little is constant. The fluid nature of trends and personal preference is what keeps it fun. And what keeps men shopping! Do your homework to discover your own personal style and then enjoy the ebbs and flows of trends.
Another point I would add is that we aren’t all one thing. Just as we all have different moods and like fast music sometimes, soft music other times, our mood and our activities play a big part in how we feel like dressing each day. For me I’m as likely to wear a formal three-piece suit as I am a more casual sport coat and jeans. Yet I also enjoy golfing and dressing for that sport, or playing with my kids and dressing appropriately for that. Because of my passion for menswear I am very aware of what I wear in every setting and I like to own quality clothing for all of it. Sometimes it’s formal, sometimes it’s casual. Sometimes it’s full of classic blues and greys and browns and other times I feel like wearing white chinos and a bright colored shirt. It’s all part of my personality and the different facets of what makes me me. Hopefully I’m finding a nice balance between classic style and modern touches. And I always try to buy quality over quantity and own pieces that are versatile and are made to last.
Ed: Artists will usually pull influences from other forms or art. Whether it’s a musician getting inspired by a painting, or an sculptor getting that inspiration from dance, it is not uncommon to find this interesting net of influence among creative people. As an artist, because that’s how I regard people like you, where do you find your inspiration to keep things fresh and interesting when creating your garments?
Jason: My top inspirations come from travel and home design. When I travel I’m constantly people watching and snapping photos of people on the street or even window displays of stores. Thinking about the ideal life, jet setting around, and coming home to the perfect environment helps me get my mind around how I would want to dress in all of those situations. What clothing would be most appropriate and even lift up the environment.
Ed: As someone with experience in the formal menswear industry, what would you say is the most common thing about style that men get wrong? Particularly when talking about suits, jackets or any other type of dressy clothes.
Jason: For many years the easy answer to that would have been fit. The majority of men wore clothing that was too large for them. To a large degree that is no longer the case. Interestingly a lot of guys have taken that to an extreme and are now wearing suits that are too tight. Of course there is the common advice about not buttoning the bottom button on a jacket, or which socks to wear with what color suit/shoes. But the best advice I could offer would be to simplify. Figure out a fit that isn’t loose or tight, somewhere in between and timeless. Then identify which colors are best for your skin and hair. Then buy quality pieces that you can mix and match to maximize versatility. Lose the excessive jewelry and accessories. Simplify down to classic combinations with very little adornment. Those small adjustments will elevate your style above almost everyone else out there and that will give you an advantage in both your personal and professional lives.
Ed: I am of the opinion that men’s style is going through a vigorous revival, and distinctly so a more formal approach to style from men of all ages. Do you see this trend as well and where do you see it going in the future?
Jason: The menswear renaissance we are experiencing is fascinating. It seems almost anything is acceptable these days. The overriding thing that I see is that guys are caring more than ever before about how they look and what their style says to the world about them. As strong as trends towards wearing more suits are, there is just as much evidence that our world is becoming increasingly casual. So I wouldn’t say it’s getting more formal, I would say it’s simply becoming acceptable for guys to care about their clothes as much as girls. Historically department stores devoted 70% of square footage to women’s clothing. In the last decade that has shifted to nearly 50/50. Runway shows and haute couture were reserved for women’s wear only, but today this is also nearly 50/50. So there has been a fundamental shift about the way men buy and wear clothing. Finally men don’t need to apologize for caring about their clothes. I don’t think this will ever revert back to the way it was.
Ed: Do you have a personal style icon or hero? And if so, who’s that man you look up in terms of style?
Jason: Probably my dad. He’s worn a suit to work my entire life and seeing him go to work every day, seeing him return home after a long day, seeing how meticulous he was about his shirt care, tying his tie in just the right way and perfecting that dimple, to polishing his 20 year old shoes that still look brand new, etc. Consequently I found myself caring about my appearance from a young age. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized that a lot of my friends didn’t give much thought to clothing and that I was the strange one that cared. Beyond that, today there are many people that I admire for their personal style, from my business partner Derek Bleazard, to numerous people that I follow online. Some of those icons have become acquaintances or even friends as we’ve had the opportunity to attend various menswear events overseas.
Ed: Let’s pretend for a moment things hadn’t worked out for you in the formalwear industry, which we all can be grateful it wasn’t the case, what other career would you have pursued?
Jason: My entire professional career has been in apparel. I think that if my career had gone in a different direction I would have enjoyed being an architect and/or interior designer. Maybe even a furniture designer. I enjoy all of those things very much and I that passion comes from the same part of me that loves designing and wearing great clothing. B&R Home? That’s an idea!
Ed: One question I ask all my interviewees: tie or bow tie? Belt or suspenders?
Jason: I like both, but I wear a regular necktie far more than a bowtie. With a suit I usually just use side adjusters in lieu of a belt or braces. I don’t wear suspenders but I do wear braces occasionally. Casually I wear belts, but not with suits.
Ed: Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer all my questions, Jason. It really means a lot, not only to me personally, but also to My Dapper Self, to get to feature such prominent men’s style influencers.
Jason Yeats Style Inspiration Gallery
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And with that I’ll let you, ladies and gents, go for now. Just for now.
Take care and stay dapper. – Peace out!