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AN INTERVIEW WITH ZACK SHIFFLET: FOUNDER OF THE SHIFFLET MENSWEAR LABEL

October 25, 2013
I discovered Shifflet on Twitter a few weeks ago, and I was instantly attracted to it. I love finding new and exciting stuff by talented people, and that’s what I decided to investigate a bit more about Zack and his brand and his inspiration for creating amazing clothes. He was kind enough to agree to an interview,  in which I discovered that we share many points of view, specially when it comes to defining fashion and style. Continue reading to discover more about Zack and his work!

Can you tell me a bit about your story?
My name is Zack Shifflet and I grew up just outside of DC in Maryland. When I was about 14 we moved a little farther north in Maryland, and thats where I live now.
What about your professional life?
I was just lucky enough to have had parents that embraced my odd choices in clothing. I started to grow more and more in terms of how things look and feel and how an image can be shaped from certain things. That led me to think about things on a much larger scale and I took graphic design in college. I am actually about to graduate and even though I’ve decided to change courses a bit it has certainly helped me with my new efforts in Shifflet.
Since when are you interested in clothes and fashion?
When I was younger I had a very distinct look. I layered everything. T-shirts, sweaters, made odd combinations and such. As I grew up, I kinda got into the whole “punk scene” if you will, where I feel like I could really express my emotions and my creative nature.
How and why was Shifflet born?
In high school I started a street wear clothing brand and that’s where I became interested in clothing. The whole experience; finding the perfect fit, making all the designs myself, having it be made in America with pride and passion, things like that. Since then I’ve grown a lot and so has my style.
Shifflet came about one day in early 2013. I really wanted to make high quality pieces of clothing with a certain look. I knew I wanted it to be made in America and source as much of the fabric as I possibly could from Italy. I am really big into quality of things, the feel, the whole identity of the brand and the people behind the brand. I just wanted to put myself 100% into it, not worry about cost, making money, or anything like that. Just an honest, high quality, great looking clothing!
ZackS
What would you say has been the biggest inspiration for your work?
I’ve always wanted to run a business! I’ve studied branding in graphic design now for… 7+ years. So when I got into this whole new menswear phase it seemed to be the perfect thing. It just happened very organically. I get inspired from anything and everything. From food, to movies, to magazines to old pictures. I don’t really consider myself a “designer” or anything like that. I just enjoy creating so much. I could be cooking and see something and it sparks an idea and that idea turns into something amazing and unique. I have so many catalogues and magazines, ranging from fashion to furniture, food to typography, fabric swatches to company look books. I just try to be open minded. Let what comes come, rather than to sit down and say to myself “lets make a new blazer” or something like that.
How would you describe fashion?
I much prefer style over fashion. I think some people put far too much emphases on fashion (like trends and so on) rather than style. To me, style is much more important. I really enjoy seeing different people wear one of our pieces but in totally different ways.  One dresses it up while one dresses it down. It’s amazing how some take a piece and put their mark on it and it distinctly looks like them. It’s not a brand or fashion. It becomes an extension of them.
If you could choose 5 brands to wear of the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Hmmm… That’s very, very hard for me! I really enjoy and appreciate a lot of brands out there. The brand that I have not worn but want to totally live in 24/7 would have to be Brunello Cucinelli. He is a genius.
Favorite casual outfit?
My ideal casual outfit starts with a pair of nice jeans and a blazer. Then what else you add to it defines the level of casualness or can become more specific for what you’re doing, I just feel a little more comfortable in that. It’s almost what I wear everyday. It just never seems to be to casual or too dressy, I can go anywhere and feel amazing; I hate feeling underdressed at dinner and over dressed at the mall, so it’s the perfect balance.
Who are some of your celebrity style icons?
This is probably the hardest question so far! So many men have had huge effects on style and menswear. To me, it’s always the guy with some sprezzatura! I really, really dig that whole side of menswear. The effortless look, they way some guys own their looks. It’s very inspiring.  Oh, and Matt Bomer. Neal Caffrey is also such a badass!
Finally… tell SGS readers what is it that makes it Shifflet special. 
I don’t have any formal training in clothing design or anything. The only design schooling I’ve had has been graphic design, so to be honest sometimes it is a little rough. I just feel so strongly about it, so passionately about it. I get excited over buttons and lapel pins, where the fabric comes from, things like that. I just hope that comes across on the clothing. We make everything in America. I’ve always felt very, very strongly about that. I wanted to mix the American and Italian look and feel. It’s not anything that hasn’t been done before, just with my own spin. Inspired in Italy, made in America. It perfectly describes Shifflet.
I would like to thank Zack again for sharing more about himself and his work with us. You can check a few photos of his collection below (that berry gingham shirt is flawless!!!). Also, make sure to visit his website & shop to learn more.
Until next time,
-SGS

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