What one wears can be very surface, but men’s wear writer David Coggins dug deep for his new book, “Men and Style,” which is out this month and was designed by Abrams’ creative director John Gall. Coggins spent one-on-one time with men’s wear industry vets including Andy Spade, Frank Muytjens and Glenn O’Brien to talk about their fathers, moving to New York and, of course, clothes they like. Coggins spoke to WWD about putting the book together.
Why did you write the book?
I wanted to write a book when I turned 40 and pull some of my essays together and talk to the men I cared about. But once I started to do it, it got bigger and bigger and much more involved. It’s not about telling you what to wear. It’s about showing how these men got to be where they are.
How long did it take to complete?
About a year. It was really fun to do. We got to sit down with these men and a lot of them had never talked about these things. I was surprised that they were surprised. No one has asked them what it was like to move to New York and I was touched by that. I think that comes through in the book. It’s very human and personal.
Who surprised you the most?
Jay Fielden [editor in chief of Esquire]. I knew Jay a little when he was the editor of Men’s Vogue, but I hadn’t seen him in a while. He’s so dapper, so refined and he opened up a lot and was absolutely fantastic. He talked about being from San Antonio and working at Ralph Lauren and hiding clothes from customers to get the discount he wanted. He’s such a great storyteller and has lived such a great life.
What do you think of men’s wear currently?
I love seeing photos of old Italian men in Florence and Milan who care about what they wear and that’s really inspiring, but now people are leaving the house hoping to get photographed. Dressing well has to do with self awareness and understanding how you fit into the world, and if you have that you are going to look good in a tuxedo or jeans. It’s not about clicks or followers. I get worried when I see people trying to build their brand.