Zachary Quinto, J.J. Abrams and Greg Kinnear are good friends for a first-time designer to have when launching a clothing label. While Abrams and Kinnear attended Sanford Panitch’s party introducing his namesake men’s line at Just One Eye on Tuesday night, Quinto pushed their friend to create a look book, in which the “Star Trek” actor is seen wearing the double-breasted vest, schoolboy blazer and four other styles in moody shots set in Hong Kong by photographer and director Wing Shya.
Other entertainment and design notables who’ve given a boost to Panitch’s namesake line include Andrew Jarecki, who accepted his Emmy for best documentary series “The Jinx” in September while wearing one of his tuxedos, and Ross Cassidy, the interior designer who was also at the party.
“It was made for my friends,” Panitch said of the clothes that he started creating about five years ago as a hobby and is now starting to sell at retail. “My friends helped get it going.”
Panitch has a long list of talented friends who can moonlight as muses and fit models. He’s the president of Columbia Pictures. In his previous job, overseeing Fox’s international productions, he traveled 200 days out of a year for seven years. On his trips to India, China, the U.K. and elsewhere, he picked up inspiration for clothes and met tailors who helped him produce the apparel. Sensing a void between basic pieces and extravagant get-ups, he wanted a tuxedo that was low-key to wear to a meeting at the Cannes Film Festival but also polished enough to wear to a movie premiere later that evening. It was a studio head’s version of day-to-night dressing.
“When a man is so tailored, to me it feels old-fashioned — it’s like my father,” Panitch said before his party kicked off with a quintet of young men modeling the half-dozen styles from his debut collection. “The Brooks Brothers stuff to me was more my style, but it was too conservative. I wanted something that had a little bit of attitude but didn’t try too hard.”
He didn’t mind logging frequent flier miles in pursuit of materials. The idea for the $850 vest came to him when he was in Moscow. “I saw the military uniforms with gold buttons,” he said. He acquired the navy grosgrain covering the buttons and side stripes of the $1,650 tuxedo suit from a female artisan in France. Pointing to a $250 pleated shirt to be worn under said suit, he noted, “Sammy Davis Jr. had this exact color of pink.”
To ease his entry into the competitive fashion industry, Panitch limited his sizing to a 40 regular for jackets and a 34 waist for trousers. Paola Russo, cofounder of Just One Eye, liked the concept of one size fits some, which allows for the clothes to hang tight or loose, depending on the body. “You can play with it,” she said.
Panitch is considering an expansion to the women’s sector by commercializing a shirtdress in Liberty fabric that he previously made for some female friends. If his fashion project becomes successful, he doesn’t intend to turn his story into a movie. “If it goes really well, I would certainly make another capsule,” he said, smothering a laugh.