GreenShag duo tell us what men should be wearing to interviews

GreenShag duo tell us what men should be wearing to interviews

Victoria and Neil McPhedran (Photo by Vanessa Heins)

GreenShag, the bespoke menswear clothier known for its hockey rink cufflinks, opened a storefront on Queen West last summer. Run by the husband-and-wife team of Neil and Victoria McPhedran and their partner Ibai Demirdache, it has become the go-to shop for savvy Bay Streeters and the creative classes who want to stand out from the pinstriped pack. We talked to the couple about ignoring trends, the allure of the bow tie and what to wear to a job interview.

When you’re designing, do you look to the zeitgeist for inspiration?
Victoria: When something is completely out, that’s when it inspires me. Our big spring inspiration is the Duke of Windsor. I adore him and his fashion. The thing about the Depression—I look at pictures of these guys in soup lines—and every one of them was in a tailored suit. Everyone had a beautiful hat on, a beautiful vest.
Neil: They’re lined up for soup wearing ties!
V: They took pride in how they looked. And I think people are going back to that pride. When you have all the money in the world to spend, it’s a symbol of status to order a bottle of Cristal while wearing jeans and a ratty old T-shirt. But now the comfort of being well dressed is coming back.

So bespoke clothing isn’t a hard sell in tough financial times?
N: Some of our financial guys who used to slap down lots of money on a regular basis aren’t as apt to. That said, we’ve tapped into a kind of guy that still wants to spend money on clothes but something a little more artisanal, more handmade, more designed. So instead of buying two suits and two shirts off-the-rack at Holts or Harry Rosen, they sit down with Victoria and design it from the ground up.

Do you have recommendations for interview outfits?
N: If they’re meeting with Victoria, she’ll tell them what they need to do. They like to get pushed around by her.
V: It’s about investment dressing. It’s like building a house. You start with a foun­dation—that navy pinstriped suit, just a couple of white shirts—really easy dressing where you can mix in a pair of jeans. You have to think of the totality of your wardrobe. You can get 16 outfits out of a three-piece suit, a pair of jeans, a white dress shirt and a T‑shirt.
N: We’ve also just created a bespoke layaway program. Instead of rolling all three pieces of a suit out at once, we’ll plan the suit and then make the pieces one at a time so someone can pick up his blazer one month, maybe the pants the next month and the shirt after that.

Do you wear only GreenShag clothes?
N: Yeah, I don’t really have anything else, except for jeans. And we haven’t done sweaters yet.
V: We’re starting with sweaters and coats this year. And leather accessories.
N: And we’ve just signed a licensing deal with the NBA. You could go to an L.A. Lakers game and get a pair of GreenShag cufflinks at the Staples Center.
V: I want to do bright golf pants, custom slippers: velvet, really gauche and over the top, with gold initials.

Is there an appetite for that?
V: No, there never is. We have two kinds of guys. The guys like Neil who can wear crazy, outside-the-box kinds of things—bow ties and that kind of stuff. But there are guys who say, “No, I can’t wear that kind of thing, but I want to be part of that.” We always have two mannequins: one with the crazy outfit on and one that’s classic.

You’re obviously doing OK, if you’re expanding.
N: In 2009, it’s innovate or die. No matter what industry you’re in.