It's not surprising that Michael Bastian knows what guys want to wear. After all, he worked at Abraham & Strauss, Sotheby's, Tiffany & Co. and Polo Ralph Lauren—and spent five years as Men's Fashion Director at Bergdorf Goodman—before debuting his own men's line in 2006.
The collection was an instant hit, and Bastian was rewarded with four CFDA Award nominations (in 2007 2008, 2009 and 2010) and in 2011 he took home the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year prize.
Today, the Upstate New York native and Babson College grad helms his namesake line and oversees GANT by Michael Bastian, a lower-priced line of his-and-hers sportswear that walks the same ground as his classics-with-a-twist signature collection (the latter is carried in 35 stores worldwide, while GANT has 600 freestanding stores worldwide).
Interestingly, the 46-year-old Bastian told TFI that there wasn't a big "aha moment" that made him realize he wanted to be a designer. "I’m still waiting for that moment." As for why he chose fashion as a form of creative expression? "It was just the industry I found myself in—maybe it will change someday."
For now, though, he's clear on the difference between the MB and GANT customer. "They are for different guys who are in different places in their lives," he explained. "The Michael Bastian customer is more of a luxury designer connoisseur kind of guy, while my GANT by Michael Bastian line is really good for everyone. Just great clothes at a good price. These two lines are brothers—but they are not identical." He introduced a signature sunglass range last year, and also collaborated with Havaianas on a limited edition collection of flip-flops.
The Fashion Informer's Lauren David Peden wrangled a few minutes with Bastian just before the holidays to discuss childhood memories, night skiing and the joy of sleeping in one's own bed.
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Oatmeal with blueberries.
What's the last book you read and loved?
Boulevard of Broken Dreams, the James Dean biography.
What's your favorite smell in the world?
A freshly peeled orange.
Coffee or tea?
What's your most cherished item of clothing/jewelry and why is it so special to you?
The blue cashmere crew neck sweater that my mom gave me when I went to college—I still have it. And it’s the grandfather to all the crew neck cashmere sweaters we have made.
What's your earliest memory?
Taking a nap with my great grandma who was babysitting me when my mom had to go to work. And I was less than one.
Do you have any hidden or unusual talents?
I can cane chairs.
For what will you be arrested (hypothetically speaking)?
Smoking in hotel rooms.
What's your favorite store in the world?
The United Arrows in Harajuku in Tokyo.
What's the biggest/most important lesson your parents taught you?
Don’t be afraid to try anything, because if it doesn’t work out you can always come back home.
What's the most you've ever spent on a purchase, other than a house or car?
Nothing to mention.
When was the last time you rode the subway?
A month ago—the 6 line.
What's your favorite winter activity or pastime?
Please look up from answering these questions and describe what you see.
Pantone Barbie (who arrived this morning as a gift) and Mr. Pinky (our good-luck company mascot).
What makes you nervous?
Being late on the way to the airport.
When are you happiest?
After a long trip—when I’m home in my own bed.
portrait of Michael Bastian by Raul Tovar