I met Mark McNairy in an office in the Garment Center in 2005. During our first encounter I distinctly remember thinking that he hated me. I also remembered thinking that I wasn’t so sure about him either. After a short while I realized that McNairy was not only one of the funniest people I had ever met, he is also one of the most talented. Over the past seven years of working with him I’ve come to appreciate the way in which Mark sees the world. I love the the crazy twist he puts on the classics and I’ve come to terms with the fact that Mark can create great designs so easily, a skill I don’t seem to possess.
Thinking back, I also remembered working with Mark at J.Press and trying so hard to get people to appreciate and love the clothes he made as much as I did. In those days the battles were hard fought and not always won, but there were bits and pieces of press and attention. I started ACL in December of 2007 and it only took me about a month to make my first mention of Mark. At that point he was working on several projects, all of which I was on-board with. Even at that point he had been around much longer than I had, and I would be full of shit if I didn’t admit that I learned a lot of what I know from Mark. We bonded over Ivy style, over made in the USA and all sorts of other random things. When I made my first trip to Japan Mark was the one who showed me the ropes. He was the friend who woke me up everyday with instant coffee and cigarettes. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to how much Mark has influenced ACL and my own personal style.
It is all of these things that makes me so proud of the recognition and attention that Mark is getting today with his nomination as one of GQ’s best new menswear designers in America. It’s true that McNairy isn’t exactly new (the guy is basically old enough to be my dad – sorry buddy), but he certainly is one of the best. To see the attention and praise Mark has received over the past few years has been equal parts incredible and inspiring. It is also entirely deserved.
The other nominees for GQ’s BNMDA are: Saturdays, BLK DNM, Ian Velardi, Ovadia & Sons and Todd Snyder – all good brands with talented folks at the helm. All of the nominated designers will be contributing to a special collection for the GAP, a new partner for GQ’s six year old contest.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I am pulling most for Mark. It’s success that is long over due and definitely deserved.