Mark McNairy has a lot of opinions, but his new book, “F**k Ivy and Everything Else” which was released this month, isn’t a diatribe. It’s more like a picture book sprinkled with his thoughts on myriad subjects ranging from twisted shoelaces to Popeye’s chicken.
Here he talks about how he developed these opinions, his new role at Five Four, an apparel subscription service for men, and the future of his own line.
WWD: How did this book deal come about?
Mark McNairy: I really never even seriously considered a book but a few years ago someone approached me out of the blue and I said I would think about it. I came up with an idea and he rejected it. So I said, ‘I’m not redoing it. If you don’t like it then, whatever.’ Then my agent came to me with a deal from another publisher and I signed a deal and got the advance with no idea of what I was going to do. I probably procrastinated for almost a year, but we had meetings and I was basically going to spoof “Take Ivy,” but then it kind of turned into something else. I wanted it to be a book of all the things that made me who I am, like Brooks Brothers, Hot Wheels, “The Andy Griffith Show” and G.I. Joes. I couldn’t sit still and do it, so my agent had to come to my house and force me to do it.
WWD: How did you develop these rules? Were there a lot of restrictions around what you wore as a child?
MMN: As a child there was no place for adventure or experimentation. I guess that kind of freedom started in high school with punk rock. That’s what enlightened me to not being afraid to express myself. When I was a kid I was very particular. I was actually beyond particular. I would iron my money and spray it with Polo cologne. That’s probably the root of my issue with twisted shoelaces. When I lace my shoes I can’t stand when they are twisted and dirty. It just looks sloppy. Even if it’s a new pair of Chuck Taylors and the laces are all twisted it looks like you don’t care.
WWD: What’s going on with your line?
MMN: I moved to Los Angeles in August and I decided not to wholesale my apparel collection anymore. I just wasn’t happy with the results my partner was coming up with. I decided I was going to go back to how I used to do it and make clothes at random when I feel like it. Eventually when I find the right partner I will relaunch the wholesale collection.
WWD: What happened with your partners at BPMW?
MMN: That’s over. We are still friends. It was a good partnership in the beginning, but they didn’t have the resources or financing to take my collection to the next level.
WWD: What else are you up to?
MMN: I’ve been working with Five Four. The partnership started as one monthly collaboration, but now I’m the creative design director. There are still going to be collaborations for monthly drops, but we are launching e-commerce in March. Basically for everything that comes out of Five Four, I’ve come up with the idea or changed it in some way. I’m also working with Putnam Accessory Group, a private label hat manufacturer. I’m in the process of re-branding a line they have called Chuck. It was mostly hats and bags, but I’m adding apparel and eyewear and whatever I feel like adding to turn it more into a brand. I’m supposed to be working with Pharrell on Billionaire Boys Club, but that’s on hold.
WWD: Are there any other brands you want to collaborate with?
MMN: Levi’s is number one, then Chuck Taylor.
WWD: What do you think about men’s wear today?
MMN: I thought the Made in America men’s wear push was a big revolution in terms of smaller companies taking charge, but it seems like it’s gotten out of control. There are too many brands. You can start your own brand from your bedroom. It’s a good thing and a bad thing. Also, bigger brands like Shinola are capitalizing on what all of us small companies did. Shinola is just totally fake. It’s a corporate entity that’s taking advantage of what everybody else has done. They say it’s all about made in U.S., but one Wal-Mart hires more employees than their whole company.