How to Be Stylish: Buck Mason’s Founders Spill Their Style Secrets
Having good taste and impeccable style doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes, it takes learning from the best in the industry to truly perfect dressing like a fashion-forward, modern man. Welcome to our series, “How to be Stylish,” where we pick the brains of some of the most respected figures in fashion for their ultimate style tips.
Most of the time, getting dressed each morning is a fun challenge: It’s that little creative exercise that you do just for yourself. But there are some days when finding an effortlessly chic ensemble is a struggle. Enter Buck Mason, a new menswear brand that provides high-quality wardrobe staples at an affordable price. With everything from cozy T-shirts, to pants, to a hat collaboration with Stetson, Buck Mason’s threads are perfect whether dressed up or down. And to make getting dressed in the morning an easier process, Buck Mason also offers clothing packages, where customers can try the contents for 20 days and pay for whatever they decide to keep. Dying to know more about this emerging brand? Lucky for you, we had the privilege of speaking with Buck Mason’s founders, Erik Schnakenberg and Sasha Koehn, in this edition of “How to Be Stylish.”
The Cheat Sheet: Can you tell me a little about yourselves? How did you get to where you are now, career-wise?
Erik Schnakenberg: I started working in apparel while I was still in high school. I always wanted to build a brand. Before Buck, I was the director of retail for a handful of apparel companies.
Sasha Koehn: I come from an interactive production background, basically making content for ad agencies. Before Buck Mason, I started a production company that sold content platform “This Built America,” which was a content series about the companies in America who kept their manufacturing stateside.
CS: What inspired you to create Buck Mason?
ES: My initial idea for Buck Mason came as a reaction to men’s fashion back in 2012. It was essentially the height of the “dapper” movement, but the whole thing felt pretty staid and effete to me.
I had this idea in my head for simplifying the way men shop. It began with selling timeless basics you could mix and match so any guy could have a sophisticated style in one click. That grew into creating the quintessential timeless American uniform. We wanted to start with the ultimate American staples, which are of course, the five-pocket indigo blue jean and the white T-shirt.
I’ve always been drawn to subtle design and quality, and I wanted to sell products that were timeless, well-made, and simply curated. Sasha took that and built an incredible website that focused on seamless user experience and great content.
CS: Can you tell about who the Buck Mason guy is?
SK: Our collection is really for everyone. Our stuff is so understated that there’s room for interpretation. It’s not about label, it’s about fit, and fabric and construction. If you appreciate that, you’re our guy.
CS: What makes the brand different from the other American menswear brands on the market?
ES: We’re not engaged with fashion. We take the most essential garments — jeans, T-shirts, and button-ups [for example] — and strip them. Nothing but great fabrics, great fits, incredible construction, and a handful of time-tested colors that look great on everybody. Our approach is reduction and distillation, which is a radical departure from most contemporary men’s brands.
CS: What is the one thing that every stylish man should invest in?
ES: A good pair of raw denim jeans. We cut and sew our raw indigo jeans with fabric from a century old mill in North Carolina. As you wash and wear them, the color fades and you’re left with reflections of the way you move and what you carry: your wallet, your keys, your walk. All that shows in the denim to create this deeply personalized, cool piece of clothing. Our raw Indigo denim only gets better.
CS: What are five things every modern man needs in his closet?
ES: Our Slub Cotton T-shirt is the ultimate foundation piece. I’m always wearing a T-shirt, either as a base layer or on its own. Totally essential.
SK: I love our chinos. I work from a desk a lot, so it’s important to have pants that [are comfortable] when you’re sitting. Our chinos accommodate through the waist and thigh without compromising fit in the leg and seat. They’re amazing.
SK: My go-to is our Oxford Button- Up shirt. It always looks right and the plain-weave oxford cloth breathes nicely. We developed a fusing in the collar so it doesn’t crinkle after you wash it. Pretty great.
ES: A hat is critical no matter where you live, but it’s especially useful here in Southern California. We worked with Stetson to make an absolutely world-class line of hats. The Silver Belly is my daily go-to, but they’re all phenomenal.
ES: Sweatpants have their detractors, but sometimes you just need to kick back and relax. I think a lot of guys who’re really consumed with fashion forget about comfort. We make a great [pair of] French terry sweatpants that are 100% cotton and fit great, which is a complete anomaly for sweatpants today. Plus, the fabric breathes really nicely so you’re not dying when you’re on the couch.
CS: What advice do you have for those who want to be fashion-forward and cool, but aren’t interested in wearing loud colors and bright prints?
SK: Subtle style lies in great fit and great fabrics. When you’ve got that, everything else falls into place.
CS: At Buck Mason, quality is key. What’s the design process like?
ES: It starts with identifying clothes that guys wear everyday. Then, we do research to find the best of the best. Next, we parse together the fits, strip the branding, and simplify. We take the best and we distill it. We improve garment construction, make everything in America, and sell it at a great price. We’re not reinventing the wheel, we’re refining it.
CS: Where do you see your brand five years from now?
ES: We want to see our clothes on as many backs as possible. Right now, I think we’re seen as a niche brand, but I don’t think that’s right. I think if the American public is presented with a quality product that looks great and stands the test of time, they’ll appreciate it. It’s our job to get it out there.
Follow Kelsey on Twitter @KMulvs