“This was a nice excuse to get out of the house,” said Sam Lobban on Monday evening, with typical British dryness. “I had a baby three weeks ago and I’ve been cooped up with the missus.”
Yes, Lobban’s been busy. Not only has he welcomed his second child, he was named vice president of design for men’s at Nordstrom — a new position created for him — just five weeks ago.
Nordstrom toasted his appointment with a dinner at Minetta Tavern in Manhattan, on the first night of New York Fashion Week: Men’s, where he was joined by Todd Snyder, Eric Rutherford, illustrator Richard Haines, Saturdays founder Morgan Collett and Jeffrey Kalinsky.
Lobban joined the department store from Mr Porter, whose online editorial The Journal was a highlight of his time there. Might there be a similar publication coming up for Nordstrom’s site?
“There’s a number of ways to perform the storytelling mechanic,” Lobban said ahead of dinner. “You can do that through in-store experience — with Mr Porter, it was always very obvious because we were a digital business — or digital storytelling, which essentially is editorial. There is a very important part for all of those elements to play within the Nordstrom ecosystem.”
But this is 2018, and the men’s wear landscape has changed; Lobban acknowledges that data will have a role in getting to know the Nordstrom customer.
“Merchants have used some form of buying data forever,” he said. “As long as there’s been a guy with a shop and a piece of paper, he’s been tallying up — that’s data. In current times, when everything’s relatively tumultuous, the way to stay ahead is to really understand your guy, your customer, and how you can push that customer forward in an interesting way for them.”
At 9 p.m., Lobban began shepherding guests into the dining room, where he flopped into a leather booth after his toast and began chatting with his longtime friend, model-turned-footwear-designer Armando Cabral.
“We go back since the Selfridges days, when Sam worked the retail floor and I was modeling,” Cabral said.
Snyder stood at the bar with two friends, laughing and gesturing heartily. He paused for a minute to talk about his upcoming show on Wednesday for New York Fashion Week: Men’s.
“I’m working with [former GQ creative director] Jim Moore,” he revealed. “We’re doing a lot together; he’s been doing some photoshoots for the brand. Not to be sacrilegious, but he’s kind of a god to me. It’s been a blessing having an expert in the field who knows what I’m looking for and introduces new ideas that take me to another level I could have never thought of.”
When asked what he thought about rumors of attendance — and interest — in NYFWM decreasing this year, Snyder waved the gossip away.
“I don’t know what everybody’s talking about. It is relevant, and it’s changed. It’s been an honor to do it. For me, my business has doubled year-over-year, business is double online over last year,” he said. “You don’t always necessarily need to do a fashion show to be in the mix, but it makes sense for my business. This industry was always defined by, ‘oh, you have to do a fashion show,’ but it doesn’t work for everybody, especially brands like Fear of God that are the undercurrent of what’s happening in men’s wear right now.
“The medium’s changing slightly, but I can’t complain.”
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