This is Clothes and Personal, in which we sit down with one of the brightest names in menswear to talk about the articles every man should have in his closet.
Josh Peskowitz made his name in New York City, where he worked as Men’s Fashion Director at Bloomingdale’s after writing about street style for the likes of Esquire and Fader.
Now he’s in Los Angeles managing his own men’s shop, Magasin, a treasure trove of one-off items he makes in collaboration with designers and personally curates while traveling around the globe.
We recently sat down with Peskowitz to talk about creating your own signature style, his most coveted items and whether or not you should be taking selfies.
Here’s what he told us.
If you had to describe the type of guy who shops at Magasin how would that be in three words?
Using four: A guy who cares.
What’s the coolest thing for sale at your store right now?
We just started carrying Dries Van Noten, which makes me very excited because Dries is my favorite designer … He takes a lot of the items that you recognize and see on the street, but [adds] a pattern or a nod to a different culture than the one the original item came from, and in a way that makes it feel special and relatable ... So pretty much anything that we have from Dries is my favorite thing in the store right now.
If you could give guys one piece of style advice to adhere to, what would it be?
Have confidence in what you’re wearing. It seems simple, but when I get dressed and I put on something that I like, I feel like a million dollars. If I wear something and I’m like, “I don’t know if I like it,” it’s going to show. A lot of men don’t appreciate their own visceral reaction to clothing the way that women might.
In the world of menswear you have a distinct style. How would you suggest that a man go about developing his own style?
I think developing one’s own sense of style is all about never throwing away the good; [it’s] a process of adding and subtracting over the course of your life. Unlike womenswear, menswear is an evolution, not a revolution. It doesn’t change that much over time. Proportions change. Colors change. But the overall items that are a part of a man’s wardrobe don’t. So the the things you gravitated towards when you were younger are things that will be relevant to you when you’re older, particularly if you consider it well. Now, I’m not saying you should be wearing a Mecca hoodie when you’re 65 because you liked it when you were 15, but a hooded sweatshirt is still important. So it’s how you take those things you’ve always loved and find more refined and sophisticated versions as you get older.
What was the first (menswear) item you truly remember coveting?
Polo sport sweatpants. It was probably 1994 and they cost $125, which was the most money I’d ever seen in one place at one time. They were at a store called Up Against the Wall, and I started working at the store so I could get a discount on the sweatpants. Size double extra large. I still have them. They’re shorts now and I sleep in them. They’re not suitable for public viewing, but I can’t get rid of them.
Every man’s closet should include __________.
A good blue blazer.
What’s one article of clothing not many guys wear but more should?
A sweater vest. Now let me explain. It cannot be any old sweater vest. But a sweater-vest cardigan is a really nice thing to wear over a T-shirt. A lot of times when I’m just wearing a T-shirt I feel underdressed, and I love wearing T-shirts and spend innumerable hours looking for the perfect T-shirt (which we have now, in the store). So my solution was to wear a jacket and that’s great, but lately I’ve been gravitating to a mohair sweater vest cardigan by Mossimo Alba, and I have it in two colors. Most people think of a sweater vest as stuffy, but it doesn’t have to be.
What’s the most versatile shoe a guy can own?
In 2017, it’s a pair of Common Projects Achilles. It’s been around for over a decade now, but I remember when it first came out the thought of wearing a sneaker with a suit was unheard of at that time. But now it’s pretty much an accepted practice, and the Achilles is the granddaddy. The construction is so simple and the quality is so good that you can wear them with jeans, shorts, sweatpants and with a suit ... If I’m going away for trip, they might be the only pair of shoes I take with me.
What’s the most versatile suit a guy can own?
The most versatile suit a guy can own is an unstructured worsted wool suit in either navy or grey. I prefer unstructured because you can dress it up or dress it down. Maybe it has batch pockets — that way you can break it up and wear it with a pair of jeans if you want.
You’re stuck a desert island with one article of clothing. What do you choose?
I definitely want pants. I’d go with jeans because you may need to climb a tree. If I’m talking about jeans, I’m talking about Levi’s, probably a pair of selvedge 501s, because who knows how long I’m going to be on the desert island and I want my one pair of pants to last a long time.
What’s the one toiletry you won’t travel without?
Besides a toothbrush, I’d say Berocca, which is a vitamin supplement in a fizzy tablet form that they just started selling in the United States. It’s got all of the vitamins and minerals you need in a day. If you’re getting off a plane, Berocca. If you had too many drinks the night before, Berocca. If you feel like you’re starting to get sick, Berocca. I swear to god it’s saved my life on multiple occasions.
You wear a lot of hats. For those of us who are hat novices, what’s a good style to start with?
The easiest hat for most guys to pull off is a baseball hat. I prefer if the first hat that you bought was in a dressier fabric, so that you could wear it in a more sophisticated setting. No logos. Go to FairEnds and get a baseball cap from them. Plain colors, made in the U.S.A. and sophisticated fabrics depending on the season.
What’s one thing guys should overspend on?
I think guys should overspend on a good cashmere sweater. I’m not saying buy the most expensive one you can find. Cashmere is a fiber that a lot of companies use now, but if you buy a low-quality one it will pill and you’ll only get one or two seasons out of it. But if you spend $700 on a nice one, it’ll last you many, many years and it’ll only get better with age. It’ll keep you warm, sophisticated, it can be worn casual (if it’s a crew neck) or dressy, and you only need one.
What’s one thing guys should never overspend on?
What’s your favorite watch?
We’re approaching spring, which means spring cleaning. How often do you cull your closet?
I have a rule: If I buy something and I’ve never worn it, then I get rid of it. If someone gives me something that I like and rarely wear it, I get rid of it. If it’s something that I haven’t worn in two years, maybe it’ll stay. If it’s something I haven’t worn in five years, it’ll go unless I can use it as a reference that I’m working on. If it’s a really good example of an M65 army jacket, I may not wear it, but I may need it later on for a project that I’m working on, so that’s something I may keep. It’s not a good process. I’m very unattached to things other than clothing and books. I never get rid of clothing and books. I’ve tried to get better at this.
Where does it go?
If it’s something I could see a friend wearing, I give it to them. I may have two leather jackets, I only need one leather jacket, I know it fits you and will look good on you, here, take it. That’s the most satisfying thing to me.
You once told us that traveling to far-off countries played a big role in the way you curate a collection. What’s a great country for menswear that most of us might not know about?
In terms of creative ideas, interesting ways of manufacturing and fabric development, Japan is where it’s at. But the thing about traveling is that you can always find something wherever you go. I have a shirt that I bought in Ecuador that’s my favorite shirt.
The most important non-style item you pack while traveling is _________.
I always have a flashlight in my suitcase. You’re staying in hotels and you never know, so it’s nice have a flashlight. I mean, the phone has a flashlight now, but just in case you need to make a phone call and see where you’re going, it’s nice to have a flashlight. I also carry a portable steamer, because I don’t like using the ironing board and iron in the hotel. They’re $35 on Amazon.
Favorite city in the world?
New York City.
Favorite place to eat and shop in that city?
The first place I go when I go back to New York City is Russ and Daughters. I get whitefish salad with fish roe on a pumpernickel bagel. Funny enough, my favorite place to shop in the city at this time is Paragon Sports.
Hell yes or hell no ...
Donald Trump’s red ties? Hell no.
Sunglasses inside? Hell maybe.
Flip-flops in public? Hell no.
Cargo pants? Hell yes.
Bleached hair? Hell no.
Flashy socks? Hell it depends.
No socks? Hell yes.
Monochrome wardrobes? Hell yes.
Selfies? Hell no.