Jace Lipstein the man behind the truly awesome menswear blog, Grungy Gentleman. Although the blog is still young, Jace has been taking the men’s fashion industry by storm. One look at the Grungy Gentleman and you can immediately begin to understand the style. Jace is about taking classics and staples in menswear and injecting them with youth and flair, and frankly, making them fun again. I spoke with Jace earlier this week to go a little more in depth on what the Grungy Gentleman was all about and here is what he had to say.
YGG: Can you tell me a little about your blog, the Grungy Gentleman and your goals with it?
JL: Yesterday (Nov. 16th) was 5 months. I didn't announce anything, but maybe next month I will because 6 months is something special. So it is relatively new. As far as my goals go, I want to work for GQ. It's the pinnacle of men's fashion. I consider them the Yankees of fashion, you know, its GQ! My fashion experience began with GQ. I like to think I tinkered around with it a little bit, but it all started with GQ. It's a menswear bible and working for them is my aspiration.
YGG: What is your background in fashion and how did you become interested in fashion blogging?
JL: Fashion has been in my blood for a while. I grew up in New York, close to the city. My father works in accessories. He does handbags, backpacks, scarfs, hats, etc. He does some high-end stuff, but it's mostly low end, like Wal-Mart, K-mart, and Target. My mom was also a model. Growing up in New York, it's always around you. Before this I worked as a paralegal at a law firm, but my friends always said I should do something in fashion whether it was styling, designing, or blogging. It was my birthday, and before blogging I also used to work in nightlife. Before we went out for the night, I wanted to support my buddy who was having an all black everything party. So I had a black tie from Band of Outsiders, a black blazer, and I was looking for a black and white Gingham shirt so I went to Barney's looking for a Rag and Bones shirt. I ran into this guy who was folding clothes and he was like, "I don't work for Barney's, I work for a label." So I was like, "do you work for Rag and Bones," and when he said yes, I just said, "I love your shit!" He said, "Really? Well you can tell the designer, he is right over there." So we started shooting the shit for like 20-25 minutes and someone from Barney's corporate came over. The guy I was talking to was the director of sales for Rag and Bones. So we all had a conversation and we were walking around the store and they were asking my opinion on stuff. It gave me a lot of confidence. So that night, I told my friends. The next day, my friends told me that I needed to start a website and I told them just to shut up, but they wouldn't let me leave. So bottom line, they forced me to do it. They wouldn't let me go and I was annoyed. So I was looking at domains and it was $9.99 so I was like, "just to shut you guys up, I'll buy it." So, a week went by and nothing happened. Then, on my lunch break one day, I saw Gant Rugger was opening a store in the West Village. So I just decided that they don't know who I am, so I will just talk to them and just see what happens. I called them up and had an interview with the designer four hours later. After that I started using my network. I got a graphic designer, website designer, started learning it all myself and started using my network and grinding 24 hours a day. And I have to say, I'm a product of social media, I'm not going to lie. It was a bit of an overnight success, because when you can get like, Rachel Zoe and Joe Zee, the creative director of Elle, saying it's a must read and all of these people saying things like that, they have these followings that are crazy, so if only a small part of their following check it out, it adds up and you have something going. It isn't easy to get that.
YGG: How do you define your style and how is reflected in the Grungy Gentleman?
JL: The Grungy Gentleman is a play on words on how I dress. I don't like to necessarily tie myself down to a specific definition of my style. The biggest stereotype of what a gentleman is is frumpy and grandpa-like. I dress a little preppy, but I also have a little flair and a little youth injected into that and that’s what the Grungy Gentleman is.
YGG: For the Spring 2011 season, what are your favorite lines?
JL: Band of Outsiders is my shit. They are really the closest thing to what I consider the Grungy Gentleman to be. Rag and Bones is another. They pay a lot of attention to fit and texture and I love everything they produce. Simon Spurr is more like fine men's tailoring for when I want to get more dressed up. Simon is brilliant. He just signed on to consult Tommy Hilfiger's launch of their new line that is doing very well. Michael Bastian; I like to say nobody does fashion like Michael Bastian. He is brilliant; everything he does is flawless. Menswear in general has never been in a better state than it is now with such young talent. Billy Reid is a good friend of mine who just won the CFDA Fashion Fund Award. His aesthetic is amazing, there is something so American about Billy. He is able to take that southern mentality and bring it to New York, which is an incredible crossover. Another two are Patrik Ervell and Robert Geller, those two are amazing. Another is Elizabeth and James, which is Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's menswear line. It's awesome for guys. It's very grungy so it fits my aesthetic perfectly. Another is Riviera Club, which is actually what I'm wearing right now. It's very relaxed, something that you can wear to just hang out on the beach for a bonfire, or hang out with a girl for the night. It's very casual and cool. That’s really a good core of what I like. I don't want to limit it too much because there is so much I like.
YGG: What is your take on fashion trends?
JL: I don't like the word trends. Simon Spurr said something to me recently that hit home, that fashion is really about being an individual. Trends are something that people are all catching on to. To him, fashion is about expressing yourself and trends go against being unique. If I have to pick something that is more reoccurring, I would have to say military inspired clothes. I think chinos are coming more to the forefront as well. Designer sweatpants are huge, which are more fitted and versatile. Also, denim is always good, but I like that people are exploring different types of bottoms now, where everyone used to just wear jeans.
YGG: What advice do you have for guys trying to develop their own sense of style?
JL: Be yourself. Don't be afraid to step outside of your normal boundaries. Go for it and see what works and see what doesn't. The only way to know if something works is to try it. And really be yourself. Go outside your boundaries, but don't try to become someone you aren't. Stick to who you are and don't lose sight of the fact that fashion is fun. See, that's what a lot of people don't realize. Guys like looking good to get the girls; it is what it is, but it's fun. For instance, when people get dressed up, it's an excuse to have fun. When you are putting on cool clothes, you are having fun.
YGG: What items do you think every guy should have in his closet?
JL: I definitely think a guy should have a good pair of khakis. I think a navy blazer with gold buttons is very classic. A couple oxfords in basic colors are important. A guy should have a suit because you never know when your next opportunity can come calling and you need to go in for an interview. If I had to summarize it, it would be things that are versatile. Like something you can wear out to dinner with a chick, as well as to the office and then out to a club, all based around the same items. Versatility in clothes is important. Everyone wants the coolest thing there is, but having good basics is so important, because that’s something you are going to be wearing more often. What's the point of going out and spending $500 dollars on a blazer that everyone is going to notice, but you are only going to wear once every 3 months, versus something you would be wearing three times a week?
So, if you haven't started following the Grungy Gentleman, you'd better start. I can guarantee you will be hearing a lot more about him in the near future.