Pressing Questions

The Gilt MAN Q&A: Alex Chrisman

In which we sit down with the Bay Area Pinterest superstar to find out how he earned over a million followers, his take on west coast style, and the power of not overthinking it.

You'd be smiling too if you had over a million Pinterest followers.

Pinterest has exploded over the past couple years, and while it’s still dominated by women, a growing number of guys are staking their claim on the social site. Here’s the first in a regular series of profiles — and sales on Gilt MAN — spotlighting those grassroots tastemakers. Meet Mr. Alex Chrisman, a San Francisco creative director and partner in the design firm HoffmanChrisman, who whose amazingly curated corner of Pinterest has earned him 1.1+ million followers. Shop his sale here, but first, a few words on Alex’s remarkably fine-tuned aesthetic.

You’ve got an eye for classic, masculine style. How would you describe your taste?
Thanks! I grew up near (and live in) San Francisco, with ‘three seasons in a day’ weather – you wear layers year round. My Dad was a Yosemite guide for a bit so we spent a lot of time backpacking, wearing Sierra Designs, North Face… later I grew into torn jeans, flannels, Powell-Peralta, Vans / Airwalks… then kinda normalized out to a middle ground after college. Now I tend to gravitate more towards understated styles. I love all the heritage designs making a comeback right now.

A big part of why I started using Pinterest was to dress better for work. Meeting with wineries in California I’d get laughed out of any meeting if I wore a suit, so casual prep is the ticket. Trips to New England gave me a whole different perspective on work wear and evolved my California sense of style. I still like some of that surf stuff but I mix it up with oxford shirts, tweed, a good pea coat, sweaters… you can’t over-think it though. I’d say the short answer is sort-of ‘Ed Burns meets Stacy Peralta.’

You’ve got how many followers now?
1,165,000 give or take a few, it’s growing slowly.

To what do you attribute your massive fan base?
Honestly I think I was just at the right time, right place. Pinterest has been an overwhelmingly female platform, but it’s a tool that’s useful to anyone. Guys are starting to realize that… curation is making sense of a really cluttered internet, and finding someone whose taste resonates with you is amazing. I didn’t start using Pinterest to find a following, but I’m glad I can be a part of that exchange.

What can we say, the man has taste.

How does your Pinterest aesthetic translate to your personal style?
It tracks pretty closely. Clothes are communication and I’m a creative director — I think I had a more visually literate version of the same realization most guys have. You’re taken as seriously as you take yourself, and that extends to your appearance. Pinterest was just a great tool for me to build a vocabulary of my own.

Who inspires you, both living and dead?
There’s a book of Glen Denny’s photos of Yvon Chouinard and Royal Robbins and all those guys in the 60s climbing Yosemite and I’ve always thought of that as the sense of cool I wanted. Authentic, practical, rugged, beat up/lived in, self-aware but not self-conscious. I liked the same things about some of the skate/surf aesthetic in the 90s. There was a sense of purpose without trying too hard.

How would you describe your picks for Gilt MAN?
I tried not to overthink it – it reflects a lot of what I wear. I also wanted to keep it flexible with some transitional stuff thrown in, it’s warming up quicker on the West Coast than it is for you guys but it’ll be spring soon enough!

Can you name a few favorite pieces in your sale?
I swear by Levis 513s, they’re perfect. I really like the Rag & Bone fedora, but I wouldn’t look to Mad Men for how to wear it … more like Devendra Banhart or Tom Waits. Not polished.

I also dug the Dunderdon army jacket – pick up the Alternative Apparel crew neck sweatshirt or hoodie, and Sebago deck shoes, Raen tortoise shell sunglasses and those 513s. No brainer.

Any advice you have to give to other guys looking to perfect their own style?
It’s a lot of the same advice I’d give for any creative process – trust your gut when you’re pulling research, use your head when you’re making decisions. I don’t second guess myself when I’m pinning, and when I’m making a buying decision I go back to that and ask myself why I like it, how I’ll wear it and when, if there’s a better one or if I already own something similar, etc.

Beyond that, know your size and find a tailor. Fit is everything.

How about those of us aspiring to a million Pinterest followers?
Haha, if I knew I’d tell you… you’re on your own!

Shop Alex’s sale on Gilt MAN >

 

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