Iowa native Todd Snyder is a menswear designer who launched his namesake line in 2011. The industry veteran’s 20-year career includes designing outerwear for Polo Ralph Lauren, working as Director of Menswear for the Gap, and as SVP of Menswear at J. Crew. This year, in addition to recently being named a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist, Snyder collaborated with iconic brand Champion to launch a mens sportswear line entitled “City Gym”; a 35-piece collection inspired by archival Champion pieces and vintage photos from the New York Athletic Club that will hit select North American stores in August.
Congratulations on your recent CFDA nomination! How does it feel to be nominated as a fashion fund finalist?
I am still in a daze. It’s an amazing experience. I met Anna Wintour, Andrew Rosen, and Diane Von Furstenberg all for the first time. That alone is worth it.
Growing up in the Midwest, how important was fashion to you? Has it always been an interest of yours?
Very important. I realized around 14 that girls liked a well-dressed guy, so I started to dress better than the other boys in my class. Then, I started to work at a men’s clothing store in college and I knew that this was an industry that I would like to work in.
What did you gain from studying fashion design at Iowa State University as opposed to a more widely recognized design school?
I really learned the foundations of fashion… draping, fitting, textile science and sewing. Most of the textbooks used at FIT and Parsons are actually written by my professors at Iowa State. The fashion came naturally to me. I would read almost any fashion magazine I could. I would also travel often to Chicago to study the retail stores…Marshal Fields, Armani, Saks, Maxim.
When did you decide that it is was ultimately time to launch your own line?
After I turned 40, I knew I had to either do it or give up my dream. I always wanted to be a designer after reading Ralph Lauren’s first book in the 80’s. I gained a lot of confidence after working at J. Crew and launching the Liquor Store.
What is it about a well-tailored, beautiful suit that changes a man?
My favorite quote is from Oscar Wilde “A man can never be over educated or over dressed.” The perfect suit is the best investment for a man. It works well in the boardroom or an evening out on the town. Everyone loves a well dressed man…tailoring is key. It has to fit perfectly. Not too shrunken and definitely not too big.
How did the collaboration with Champion come about?
I met Ned Monroe, the Chief Creative Officer of Champion, a few years ago and we hit it off. I have always been an avid collector of vintage Champion and always had my eye on them. I am very fortunate that they selected me. It is very close to my heart. I have always styled my collection using a sweatshirt underneath a suit. Next to Levi’s, Champion is the best American brand.
Can you describe the design process that took place?
I started the season off meeting with their team and we compared our collection of vintage Champion garments. I created a mood and theme with colors and direction. For Fall 13 I wanted it to be a little more edgy and downtown. I called it “City Gym,” a boxing theme. The colors were based off of washed black, off-white and maroon. I worked closely with their team to ensure we didn’t have any crossover in their other distribution. We recreated all the fabric to look and feel like the originals from the past. It was important for every detail to be authentic.
Are there overlapping brand values between the two?
Yes. We both believe in quality and style.
Where will the collaboration be available?
The collection is available at toddsnyder.com, Bergdorf’s, Barneys and Nordstrom.
Will this be an ongoing partnership?
We have a partnership for 3 years with a right to renew.
Did you wear Champion as a kid? What are your memories of the brand?
I bought my first sweatshirt in college. I wore it everywhere, to the gym, with my Levi’s and sometimes as a sweater over an oxford shirt. It was my favorite item and it was the best quality, it only got better with age…I think I still have it in my collection.