28 May 2013

464. "Creatively Speaking" 001: Jake Gallagher

Name: Jake Gallagher

Age: 21

Occupation: Social Media Brand Ambassador at Suit Supply, Writer on Wax-Wane and freelancer writer at GQ and Esquire magazines.

Place Of Origin: Bethesda, Maryland

"Creatively Speaking" is a new series of interviews I will be conducting with friends, associates, acquaintances, people from all walks of life in my social circle that inspire me and my work. Leading off is the 21 year old phenom Jake Gallagher, who is already cementing his cred as a trustworthy writer on the editorial scene. A self professed 'nerd', he is what I'd call a "rabbit hole" kind of guy: find an intriguing subject and douse himself in the story and details of said subject, not unlike a detective seeking to close the case on a cold blooded killer.

That sort of dedication has not gone unnoticed. Writing pieces for heavy hitter publications like GQ and Esquire whilst having to hand in assignments for his professors at Eugene Lane College is admirable, considering kids his age don't even intern at those publications, let alone adding them to their resume right out of college.

In his family, the matter of looking good certainly does not begin with Jake. He comes from credible blood and I have witnessed it with my own four eyes. At the grand opening for the Carson Street Clothiers shop back in March, Jake came with his father and introduced me to him. The only way I can express meeting him was saying to myself how fantastic I want to look past 40 like him (and like my own old man, as well) and have a son and / or daughter who is as enthusiastic about their appearance as I am.

His parents often traveled in their earlier years, at one time residing in Singapore, which helped trigger their love of colors and prints. As Jake got older and more aware of his appearance, his father's impact became more prevalent, more with his actions than words.

When Jake reached college to begin his studies in business, he noticed the benefits of looking good in the classic oxford shirt. That coupled with his already established love for streetwear and budding love for menswear blogs, his own blog, "Wax-Wane" published it's first post not long after. Jake describes it's beginnings as a way to "record the process of learning", viewing fashion in a historical context, while continuing to find his own identity.

Jake and I sat outside of Balthazar to talk shop, his beginnings and what his Pop thought of how he looked as a teen.


JJ: I was initially under the impression that you attended school, majoring in journalism but it was actually business and then film. How does one make those transitions, considering tons of college kids are still clueless about what direction they would like to take.....

JG: Well, the truth is my (freshly minted) degree is in Culture and Media from Eugene Lang College, which is part of The New School. Prior to that though, I had attended Penn State for two years, and so when I was coming out of high school, I was your typical suburbanite kid, which in my mind meant that you go to a big state school and you study something "pragmatic" like Business. Ultimately, Penn State just wasn't the right school for me, and so I went through a lot up there, particularly in trying to figure out what it really was that I wanted out of life.

In my sophomore year, I dropped Business and transferred into Penn State's film program, but I knew that eventually I wanted to make it to New York, so I shifted focus, started to really get a sense of what I wanted to do in this life, and transferred to Lang in my junior year. It was certainly a lot of transitions, but I suppose in a way I was searching for my happiness on my own terms and that never meant sacrificing, but also always being open to learning, not only about myself but about the world around me.

JJ: I had the pleasure of meeting your father back in March. Immediately, my first thought was "this kid's passion for clothing now makes perfect sense", because the evidence stood before me. You describe him as a man who "dressed with a purpose". What were some other lessons or cues he taught you, be it direct or non verbal?

JG: First things first, my Dad is in my opinion the best dressed guy I know, and I can only hope that one day I'll look as comfortable in what I wear as he does. My dad was and still is a "suit every day" type of guy, but he never pushed it on me.

Growing up, he used to joke about how I dressed kinda dirty, but my parents were always really supportive of everything and let me find my own way. So whatever I learned from my dad, I really picked up by watching.

Looking back, I picked up the concept of "dressing with a purpose" from him, and it's something that I still think about daily. Every morning, I wake up and think about how I want to be received that day, and that's something I feel was passed down to me.

JJ: ....And apparently he was / is an obsessive buyer of Isaia suits? How many of our friends can honestly say that?!

JG: I mean, I can't say if my Dad wore Isaia (or any major Italian brand for that matter) when I was a kid, because I wouldn't have been able to recognize that label even if I did remember seeing it, but over the past few years, he's been big on Isaia, as well as Incotex and Zegna. I'd like to say I could take credit for that. But I'd probably be lying.

JJ: Talk to me about the one moment that bridged you and your father's love of clothing.

JG: It would be when I went home, I want to say like six months or so ago, and he gave me this vintage Paul Stuart knit tie that he'd had since he was roughly my age. It was the first time he ever gave me something and I felt like I could really appreciate it. Paul Stuart is undoubtedly one of my favorite brands, and to see that runs in the family was a pretty extraordinary moment for me.

JJ: Coming from stylish blood, I have this weird quirk that no matter how good I look or feel (in a completely non pretentious way), I can't help but to feel that I have these shoes I can't fill, I will always live in the shadows of my parents. Do you feel the same way?

JG: In a way I do, but largely because I'm still young so I'd say that I still feel unsure of my own style. It wouldn't be right for me to stack up my sense of style with my parents right now because I imagine that how I dress now will certainly not be how I'm going to dress forever.

I wouldn't say that this leaves me feeling like I live in their shadow, rather I'd say that it gives me a sense of where I'd want to be one day. I think because my dad has such refined sense of style, I've always considered a pared down wardrobe to be the ultimate goal because it shows that you know what works and what doesn't. I'm still running around and buying floral coaches jackets, double breasted sports coats, and Japanese OCBD's in the same week, so I'm still trying to figure it all out. At least I know where I want to end up in the end.

JJ: One of your first shining moments in the blogosphere involved an extensive piece, bringing attention to Banana Republic's once storied history. Did someone from their public relations departments send you a big bouquet of flowers because that was one of maybe four good pieces written about anything related to their menswear in recent years....

JG: I wish, haha. Banana is right up there with Abercrombie as one of those really depressing American menswear stories, in which a once great brand gets sold, loses it's integrity and is replaced by a preposterous, poorly made substitute. Banana was this glorious, well-made, innovative adventure brand that used to crank out beautiful designs and pieces that could easily be found in "big-name" collections today, but now all that's left of the brand is the name. And that's about as sad as it gets for me.

JJ: Now there is the podcast, Menswear House. You're already two episodes deep and as far as I am concerned, it is on the way to fill a necessary void that the short lived but not forgotten 'No Logos' left and should have cornered. What is the objective for the 'cast, as far as the subject matter or structure is concerned?

JG: On the podcast, I'll say that it's a work in progress, but Jeff, Kyle and I are definitely going to keep up on it. We've all been a bit busy with everything else in life lately, but we're working on the next episode and we're excited for what's next. We really just started the show because the three of us have really similar styles, but also disagree on a lot, and we felt like the scene was really missing a platform where there could be a critical free-flowing discussion. On my own site, I really focus on these meticulously put together stories, and so I just wanted to try something a bit more unstructured for a change.

Mr. Gallagher can be found on the Wax-Wane blog and on twitter.

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