Meet Brook, a man who wears Redwing boots and confidently keeps a pink couch in his living room. If that juxtaposition isn’t foretelling of the type of guy he is, hearing his Southern charm as he talks of ease, and being economical but making expensive things just might!
He’s traditional in the best ways, mixing vintage army greens with plaid shirts and chunky knits… Items that might go missing should a female set her sights on them! Not to mention his kind eyes and, ok, OK… yes, he is just generally a handsome fellow. Not to downplay his straightforward landscaping work — calming spaces like The Surf Lodge and gardens throughout the city that have a Richard Serra vibe, and happen to be an indication of his great eye for design.
Here are some photos from our visit last week to his inviting home in Fort Greene, Brooklyn…
Describe your style in three words.
Clean, simple, unpretentious.
What do you think men’s fashion has that women’s doesn’t?
It traditionally had less freedom than women’s, but I think the Internet and social media has shifted the young male’s perception and desire for fashion. With one click you can buy a new identity and change personas, shifting overnight. Fashion now seems wide open for men to explore new identities and consume at a rate that was once only really acceptable for women.
It’s kind of cool and kind of scary, like Japan’s population shrinking. As technology and our computer screens continue to take hold, guys will look to use fashion to set themselves apart in a flat world that used to have more dimension…
What do you look for in a woman’s style?
I want a woman to feel comfortable in her own skin and clothes. If it looks like she’s trying too hard, that’s not a good look for anyone. I prefer a woman that curates a nice wardrobe and looks like she just happens to throw on a few things on before stepping out. Something out, something new; something girly, something masculine; something sexy, something strong: just some things that play well together.
“Effortless beauty” describes the style of woman I hope to marry, even if she is indecisive and has to ask a few questions before stepping out. Having good style should never be a struggle that kills your mood and beautiful smile.
Is there one accessory that every man should have in their closet?
I’m a fan of the watch because it’s ornamental and functional. I can sneak a glance at the time without feeling rude. It helps you strategically plan an elegant well timed exit. Also, a fragrance is key.
When you’re putting together an outfit, where do you start?
Well, that’s easy enough! Boxers shorts.You probably mean outer garments, though… If that’s the case, I generally start with whatever piece I was feeling the most at that time. It could be a jacket, shirt or shoes, and build from there. Like the way I like to describe designing my gardens: Rock Paper Scissors. If you start with the predominate important move, the others kind of fall into line.
You have a landscaping business. How does your work define your style?
It’s true. My life and style kind of evolved around my career. When I was younger it was Dickie’s, Carhartt and OshKosh overalls. I have a massive boot collection, and the outdoors man in me always loved brands like North Face, Patagucci (aka Patagonia) and L.L. Bean because they offered function and durability.
Now, my days are spent more as a designer running around to meetings and talking shop, so it’s less influenced by gear but I still can’t seam to agree with overly precious items unless it’s fit for the occasion. Some early advice I received from a big creative director client: “simplify my garden so everyone in it stands out and feels chic without competing.” This still holds up today and helps when I’m choosing clothes.
Everything can’t be loud, or else nothing has value. Some things must stand silent for the right visual voices to be heard. I had a silly client tell me we needed to, “add some trees over there to fill up that space.” Look into the future. If you see design as just filling up space, you’re already choking.
Do you wish you got to dress up more often?
Yes. It’s fun and it makes you feel good, especially when you grew up blue collar like me. The tough part is not looking like someone that’s afraid to get dirty when he walks into the shop or onto a job site. I’m at a different place now in my career as a designer. It’s not in the company’s best interest for me to be a full time “doer”. It’s kind of ironic that the traditional working man’s outfit seems to be this past decade’s most sought-after fashion for the soft-handed, digital media guy…
I shaved off my beard this past year and started to dress up more. We will see how it goes — hopefully I won’t stain or rip everything I bought.
Do you have a favorite suit?
Club Monaco makes sick suits that fit my build perfectly. Give me a few years and I would love to sport some of Brunello Cucinelli suits.
What’s your favorite piece in your wardrobe and why?
Currently I think it’s my desert boots by Church’s. They are my first pair of leather sole shoes… The most expensive shoe investment to date, and have the simplest design. They make me and everything I wear look and feel more expensive. When I say that, it’s not about money, it’s about taste. Our clients feel expensive in our gardens and they don’t come cheap either.
Do you have a style muse?
Not really. You know the fashion girl who only feels safe posting pictures of Kate Moss on her Instagram account? Or how GQ can’t seem to evolve outside of old Steve McQueen images? I’m too jaded to believe the teenager that tells you “I wore Chuck Taylors before anyone else did.”
Oh, oh, oh! Just thought of one, well, kind of… The Punk Band Ho99o9 New Jersey. The first time I saw them they were wearing white wedding dresses with brown bags over there heads! Could I do that? Most likely not, but it felt like a breath of fresh air to see that style still has room to breathe under that bag. That art and image doesn’t have to sound the same. Just be comfortable and every now and then, if you get bored, just make yourself uncomfortable again.
Look 1: Jeans, Levi’s; Sweatshirt, J.Crew; Sneakers, Vans; Watch, Belova Acutron / Look 2: Plaid shirt, Polo Ralph Lauren; Jeans, Levi’s; Boots, Red Wing / Look 3: Jeans, J Brand; Sweater, Reiss; Moccasin, L.L. Bean; Shirt, Wallace & Barns; Hat, Alfonso D’Este / Look 4: Jeans, APC; Shoes, Church’s; Jacket, Wrangler; Hat, Worth & Worth; Coat, Acne.
Tea Tree Therapy cinnamon toothpicks.
p.s. Here’s a playlist from the shoot!
Hangover Days, Jason Collett
Defense, Sarah Jaffe
Itotiani, Chicano Batman
Two weeks, Grizzly Bear
Like a ship, Pastor TL Barrett and The Youth For Christ Choir
Your lips, Olu Dara
It’s time to wake up, La Femme