Scott Sternberg

Scott Sternberg navigates outside design­, where dialogue plays freely and clothes take life.

Scott Sternberg premiered Band of Outsiders for fw 04 starting as a humble collection of slim ties and button-downs out of la. A Hollywood agent-turned-designer without formal training, Sternberg took slimmed-out proportions to a full collection of ready-to-wear with suiting, trousers, knits and more. Maybe it was all the denim and casual trends of the day, but all of a sudden, ties and tailored menswear offered a newly rebellious alternative. Looking to vintage Brooks Brothers, jc Penney and classic menswear, Band of Outsiders galvanized a younger generation of men by mixing tradition with an anti-establishment perspective as represented via Jean-Luc Godard’s Band of Outsiders (or Band’s collection of footwear for Sperry Top-Siders). He then expanded with Boy, a menswear-inspired collection of womens wear. A CFDA member and multiple award winner, Sternberg’s star is on the rise precisely because he moves to his own drummer, even if only metaphoric.

With regard to categories like “clothing” or “fashion,” what are the negative characteristics or stereotypes of fashion that you avoid? Why? Where to begin?
Runway shows, print ads featuring Kate Moss, any event with a “Step and Repeat,” bribing celebrities with free clothes, incredibly lengthy, flashy animation intros to incredibly non-informative websites, etc. I find clothing to be pretty fun and creative, and much of the noise around fashion usually isn’t either of those things, unfortunately. At the same time, the people who make up the industry are actually a pretty great, open, creative, smart, interesting group, so I don’t mean to sound like a total malcontent.

Which designers (current or historical) do you most admire? Why?
Jonathan Ive from Apple is pretty great. Along those lines, the guy who designed Helvetica and the folks at muji and ikea deserve some admiration. In terms of fashion, I admire Junya Watanabe, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Ralph Lauren, whoever designed jc Penney Towncraft in the late ’60s and, for that matter, the design team behind K-Mart’s Private Label brands at the same time. There’s consistency in all their work, an iconic nature to it, and a real connection to the time and place in which the work was created.

Who is your best friend and what do you most admire about him/her?
That would be Kevin West, although we no longer wear those “Best Friends” halfsies charm necklaces. I admire Kevin’s ability to bring new and old friends together for the perfect dinner party, and his inclination to do so in the first place.

How many employees does your company have?
How big do you want to it be? I have four employees right now. I want to be as big as necessary to avoid dealing with work on the weekends, but not so big as to be trapped into making compromises due to the size of my payroll.

How did you start working with Martin Greenfield? Can you describe his contribution to Band of Outsiders?
I wanted to make suits by hand in America, and Martin’s shop is one of the only games left in town, err, the country, for that matter. Besides that, of course, they are exceptional craftsmen and tailors, not to mention great people, and the place itself holds so much gravity and history. Their contribution, beyond the handiwork and craft, is a lively dialogue about tailoring and proportion that plays out season after season and leads to something that is hopefully totally classic, current and fresh.

How do you start to visually plan a collection? By sketching or drawing? Pulling fabrics?
A bunch of things happen in parallel. I think about where I just left off, what worked, what didn’t and how to progress while keeping the guys (and now women) who buy the clothes excited and interested, without straying so far as to alienate them. I start to pull a bunch of imagery together of things I’m responding to in the world — photos, paintings, graphic design, old film stills, vintage clothes, images of iconic men or women who have great style, strange objects, anything really. I parse through my fabric archives and start pulling materials that I viscerally respond to, for one reason or another, or ones that I know I want in my own wardrobe. And I start sketching pieces, not full on looks, that I want to be making. Then I step back and try to make sense of all of it and boil it down to a focused inspiration and direction for the season.

Godard’s Band of Outsiders: how many times have you seen it? What do you take away from it?
Hmmm… 3 or 4? It’s really pretty sad in the end, that movie. But more than that, the sense of style, youth, tragedy, and sexuality is so pervasive.

How important is street fashion to your approach?
Street fashion is fashion. The rest of it feels like a shot in the dark, an aesthetic or intellectual exercise a lot of the time. The street is where clothes take life.

-Michael Cohen

This reading is done by Lena, who has no idea this palm belongs to Scott Sternberg.

1. This person lives outside of this world as much as they possibly can. Their level of perceptions tends to function on a higher plane.

2. Has very strong and creative sex drive which is particularly stimulated by song and poetry.

3. Fairly even-tempered, although their close relatives may not think so; family issues can cause their temper to flare.

4. Generally good health and long life. A few genetic predispositions are likely to trouble them in their 60s, but these will be overcome.

5. They are also eminently practical, having a very down-to-earth manner and the ability to get things done when necessary.

6. An inventive adventurer with a love of travel, they will settle in lands far from the one in which they are born.

7. This is a person with a strong duality of practical and mystical/phantasmagorical natures, grounded at times, but their emotions and dream world reach fantastic heights.

8. Will choose a career and perform well at it, until the moment when they have amassed enough to retire, for they will have found work to be a distraction from dreams, even if their work is creative.