Editor’s note: To catch up on other Style Q+A entries, click here.
As I’ve written about in past Style Q&+A entries, the #menswear world seems to get smaller and smaller — in great ways — seemingly by the week. It’s through the online men’s style community that I’ve made some great connections and friendships, and the scope of that continues to grow. Take our latest entry in the Style Q+A series — it’s quite the story. Through some great mutual friends who happen to play in a kickass rock band (seriously, check out Mainland when you get the chance), I met Leland Grossman, a wickedly talented designer and one of the team behind Liberty Fairs, the traveling contemporary menswear trade show. It’s always refreshing to connect with someone who’s got a unique take on the #menswear industry, particularly when it introduces you to new concepts and design aesthetics — Leland’s own collection, L.11 (or Leland.11), consists of just two items (and a neat logo pin), but both the collection’s tailored hoodie and tailored sweatpant are well-made, refined and stylish in a way that one might not feel about regular sweats. It stands to reason that if you appreciate a great pair of boots or a rugged pair of denim, you’d also appreciate a high-quality pair of sweatpants — right? Such is the inspiration behind the collection, among other focuses.
It’s a neat approach, and shows that even if your personal tastes might be different, you can always learn more and expand your horizons — that goes for all fronts, from quality fabrication to a new design ethos. The good news is, Leland’s already at work on his second collection. And yes, you can pick up a terrific hooded sweatshirt while you wait — let the style upgrades continue! Enjoy the below Q&A, and let me know who else you’d like to see under the spotlight (kidding) over on The Style Guide Facebook page!
TSG: Talk about how you first got interested in the world of style and fashion?
LG: It was around the 6th grade (11 years old). I was getting pretty into breakdancing and was dancing with mostly people I looked up to at least 5 or 6 years older than I was. The hip-hop (dance) community is pretty connected with music, fashion, etc. I think this exposure paired with being in such a melting pot of style really opened my eyes to what was out there. From that point on I started to explore eBay and cool websites and really the internet took it from there.
TSG: In terms of your own line, where do you draw that inspiration from?
LG: My personal line, L.11, was conceived from a very consumer-based stand point in the market. Being passionate about the best brands in the industry for so long, I had built a strong foundation for what I felt was missing. (I’m) not re-inventing the wheel, just doing things differently with the utmost care and attention paid at every step of the way. The L.11 brand is inspired by vintage sports themes, but more importantly, the collection represents the finest details and fabrications at a price point that makes sense, whether or not you love fashion.
TSG: How do you see that evolving in terms of new products or a direction/focus in the coming seasons?
LG: Collection 01 consists of two items, a pullover hoody and tailored sweatpant, done in two beautiful Japanese fabrics. The natural progression is for Collection 02 to expand into additional comfort basics. My take on a full-zip hoodie and a crewneck will be part of the first drop. Also, I’m researching fabrics for a “constructed” T-shirt and long-sleeve thermal done through the L.11 branding ethos. A sweat-short could be on the horizon as well!
TSG: Who’s a great role model for you in the style community, or in general? LG: My greatest role model and person the brand is dedicated to is my father, Richard Grossman. Eleven was a very special number between us and when he passed away when I was 16, I vowed to harness his spirt and make him proud no matter what I ended up doing. L.11 is about (that), but it’s also intended to connect to everyone’s story. … It’s not about who’s got it worse, but about how we deal in the face of the adversity. That to me is what true style is -not wearing what’s cool or trendy but wearing what makes you happy and confident.
TSG: What’s a major menswear trend you see picking up steam that people might not know about?
LG: As technology has become more advanced, we’ve seen a push from non-traditional fashion companies into this wearable tech sector. In his last show, Junya Watanabe fitted his pieces with solar panels that could charge your iPhone. I don’t think jackets are going to have rocket boosters any time soon, but I’m fascinated by the intersection of technology and fashion. Specifically, there is a style I describe as “Futuristic Explorer,” which is sort of a fusion of Japanese Heritage, technical outdoors brands and pop colors. It’s “athleisure” to the next level. Specific early examples of this would be Nike’s ACG collaboration with Erolson Hugh of ACRONYM or Japanese brand N. Hoolywood’s capsule with Mountain Hardware. My favorite brands right now are in this category, such as White Mountaineering, Stone Island, Ten C and Arc’teryx Veilance.
TSG: What’s one essential item (or outfit) that every guy should have in his wardrobe?
LG: This is a tough question, as most guys have very polarized value systems when it comes to their “things”. That is to say, some feel $100 is too much for sneakers, but can understand $500 for a nice watch. I think the key is finding things that make you happy. A purchase shouldn’t be stressful but rather add value to your every day. For me, that means investing in essential items I feel will give me that happiness and are worth the price. My Shinola watch and Garret Leight sunglasses are great examples of investment pieces that I use every day.
TSG: Similar to that, what’s one item you can’t live without? LG: My gold “R.A.G” necklace. My mom makes jewelry and when I told her I was contemplating getting my Dad’s initials tattooed, she offered up an alternative. The solid 18K chain and pendant make it easily my most prized possession, and I can’t go anywhere without it around my neck.
To follow along with the rest of the L.11 story and the new collection, check out the brand on Instagram.