Jeremy Argyle – The Must-Know Designer You’ll Never Meet

Jeremy Argyle doesn’t exist.

The men’s clothing line — with its distinctive, brightly-colored pattern shirts, ties, sweaters and accessories — certainly does. As do the label’s two New York boutiques, where men of all ages and from myriad social scenes converge for personalized service.

But the man whom the brand is named after? That’s a sexy and silly sort of story.

“Growing up in Montreal, my friends and I played a game,” explains Brian Guttman, designer and owner of the young company. “You’d take your middle name and the name of the street you grew up on, and that was considered your porn star name. My middle name is Jeremy, and I grew up on Argyle Avenue, and it always sounded very fashionable.”

Thus, when Guttman came to New York to launch his line, Jeremy Argyle was born.

“It has a Britain-meets-America feel to it,” Guttman says. “And what’s cool about it, is that in my first two weeks of business people immediately said they were familiar with the name. It has really good brand recognition.’

This kind of twist on a well-known concept is a perfect metaphor for Jeremy Argyle clothing, which takes the stodgy old business shirt and turns it into something hip, fashion forward and, yes, sexy.

We took a couple minutes to chat with Guttman about the summer fashion season, guys who accessorize too much, and why he hates short-sleeve button down shirts.

FIRST TO KNOW: What colors or patterns are going to be big this season?
BRIAN GUTTMAN: This plaid-check phase is going to stay in the near term, 100%. I’ve taken direction from our customers and shied away from bigger plaids, so we’re now making micro-checks and plaids for the upcoming season.

We get brighter fun in spring and summertime, so we have lots of greens and oranges. Come fall we reel it back a bit with blues and a more subdued color offering.

Those patterns and pops of color are really unique but they don’t feel gimmicky. How did you strike that balance?
The market is really divided into two categories for wovens. There’s the bare bones, basic shirts that get the job done for a lot of guys. The kind you find at Brooks Brothers, Theory, Club Monaco. Then on the other side of the spectrum you have Robert Graham-type shirts; the louder, flashier shirts that work for a certain type of guy but not everyone.

I think there’s a neglected middle area for the guy who’s looking for a nice clean pattern with a subtle twist, that lets him stand out just enough to show he’s wearing something special, but without being “that guy in the loud obnoxious shirt.” I feel like we’ve capture this area. My goal is to create something that is just different enough that it makes you feel special, but isn’t so out there for that it will sit in a guy’s closet and he won’t wear it.

Do you get the more conservative “blue shirt” guy coming into your stores or ordering online?
We have a lot of blue shirt guys. And I’m not trying to get them to move 180-degrees away from what they’re comfortable wearing, but if I can get them 30, 60, 90-degrees from what their typical shirt looks like, they’re going to get so many compliments. We’ve seen a tremendous uptick in business from people who come back because they get those compliments.

Talk about the rise of slim fit shirts.
We’re seeing a massive shift with people looking for a tailored look. It used to only be guys from big cities who would ask for them, but in the last two years guys from smaller cities have started buying them. We’re not talking European tight, but not the huge boxy American shirt their fathers used to wear.

Any suggestions for getting the right fit?
If you’re used to buying a boxy American shirt, you need to go a size up with fitted shirts.

The tricky part is getting a guy to not worry about the size, or if it’s fitted or a regular fit. We just want to find the right size that works for your body. Most guys can wear both fits, it’s just a question of if you’re a large in a fitted cut or a medium in a regular cut.

There’s no standard size anymore, and every company is so different in how they size their clothes. The goal is to look good, to feel good, and you want to be comfortable. So at the end of the day if something is too boxy or too tight it doesn’t look right.

What are the upcoming trends with ties?
A year ago it was the skinny crazy, where everyone was going skinny. The problem was that, even though it was in style, was most guys who work in banking or business, or who are over 40, don’t feel comfortable pulling off a skinny tie. Even if it’s in GQ or Details and looks cool, there’s a disconnect with what the regular guy can pull off.

How did you handle that?
My goal was to not create the standard thick tie or the really skinny one, but something in between, and I think we found that sweet spot. The materials also matter. We have a bunch of different blends —100% wool, silk blends, 100% silk, cotton-wool blends, etcetera — so we capture a lot of different styles.

What’s cool is that even though we have 20 ties, they’re so different guys walk out buying 6 with no problem. A lot of guys aren’t even into ties or have an event coming up, but they’re so drawn to these designs that they have to have them.

Talk about the notch on the bottom of your ties.
That’s our signature detail. Not every guy can pull that off, but it’s such a differentiator that it becomes a tie you have to get.

You’re also doing a lot of bow ties now.
They’ve been crazy on trend for the past year. It’s definitely skewing younger, late 20s to late 30s, but they’re devoted. The back of the bow tie is a solid contrasting color, so it’s not like a typical tie where both sides are the same pattern. The last thing I want to do is be boring.

What are your thoughts about guys and accessories?
I’m a huge believer in less being more. I’m not supposed to be saying these kinds of things, but we make three pocket squares, and most of the time I don’t like when guys wear ties with pocket squares. Are there situations where both go well together? Absolutely. But you should not feel obligated to wear both all the time. It’s just too much.

It’s the same with this younger, new-wave-hipster-chic look where they’re just accessorizing to the moon. I’m not a fan of that look. My basic rule of thumb is this: If you’re questioning whether or not you’ve got one too many accessories on, then it’s too much.

We noticed you don’t have any short sleeve dress shirts.
I hate them. (He laughs.)

As a personal preference thing, I detest them. After my first season I did listen to our customers and made some. I think it’s important to get customer interaction, so even though I personally hate them, I made them in a couple different options. But they didn’t sell. They just sat there.

Short sleeve shirts were totally in with nerdy-chic, and people were buying them and wearing nerd glasses, but I think that trend is over. It’s like with the accessories guy: They were trying too hard. Our long sleeve shirts have cool details that are so unique, it just looks better to buy one of them and roll the sleeves a couple times.

Life is not to be meant to be taken so seriously that you have to spend 10 hours picking out every little thing to wear. So if you have these guys with all these accessories or “looks,” it’s just too much.

Ultimately, I think fashion is looking good without having to try so hard.

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