When the Band of Outsiders x Sperry Top-Sider collaboration dropped in 2008, everyone realized why they needed to pay $300 for boat shoes. Wool, corduroy, nylon, shearling… the resulting footwear was as far away from the cowhide camp classic as Melrose is from Maine. But it was a typical—and typically sought after—combination from Scott Sternberg, the former Hollywood agent who traded in a promising career at CAA to launch Band of Outsiders in 2004.
The name of the line is a reference to the classic Godard film and an apt description of the designer’s status in his adopted hometown (he grew up in Dayton, Ohio). Like most upstart designers, Sternberg started small, with a limited assortment of slim shirts and slimmer ties, which were eagerly picked up by influential retailers like Ron Herman in L.A. and Steven Alan in NYC. Unlike most designers, he expanded quickly—and successfully—into a full collection, launching a women’s line just three years after selling his first tie. The secret to Sternberg’s success? Heaps of talent, of course, plus a knack for redefining American standbys like oxford shirts, navy blazers, and tweed suiting in fresh, innovative ways. (The fact that his clothes are all made by Martin Greenfield in Brooklyn helps on the quality front, too.)
In 2009, Sternberg shared the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year award with Italo Zucchelli of Calvin Klein. And last year, as guest designer at Pitti Uomo, he treated the sprezzatura crowds to a rendition of the iconic fight scene in West Side Story, dressing dancers in his clothes. Sternberg’s presentations have grown increasingly elaborate, from building a mock beach (with water) for his Spring 2010 collection to models who rappelled in for the Fall 2011 show.
Band’s irreverent approach has also won the affection of actors like Jason Schwartzman and Kirsten Dunst, both of whom have appeared in lookbooks for the line—and proof that there’s more than one way to succeed in Hollywood.