Mr. Refined had the pleasure to sit down with Alex Sumner, the fashion designer behind Alexander Nash. We first met Alex after attending one of his Whiskey Wednesdays. Alex’s passion for tailored clothing and love of family are evident in his shop. In his studio, the past influences the present with a dedication to craftsmanship, style, and refinement. As New York celebrates Men’s Fashion Week, it is our pleasure to introduce you to the mind behind Alexander Nash, Alex Sumner.
It is super important that dressing up is a means to an end – a bridge builder not a barrier creator.
Alex Sumner (AS): I know I am not going to be like Steph Curry, but I can still appreciate and relish in the experience. Likewise, when my wife walks in a room beautiful and with great style, the last thing she wants to do is be stuck up. The beauty is that you see her and you’re drawn to her personality. It’s like Steph Curry. You’ve watched him and relish in his play. When you finally get a chance to see him in person and connect with him or happen to be playing basketball, before the game he looks at you like “let’s go get ‘em and win this game.” With five seconds left on the shot clock, he could easily take a three but he kicks it to you. He believes in you and trust you. That’s my wife. She has this warmth and spirit. She’s just as interested in talking to you as you are drawn to her beauty.
Likewise, the last thing you want to do is walk into a room and act like you’re the best dressed guy. Appreciate the magic and gift that someone brings. It is super important that dressing up is a means to an end – a bridge builder not a barrier creator. Clothing doesn’t define me. You can easily walk into a room and dismiss one another based on how we dressed. We are all innate haters, figuring out friend or foe. It’s important to preach about approaching style with the right mindset.
Style is created. For someone that comes with a $300 budget maybe we go to a vintage store and get a suit, tie, and scarf. We make pocket squares of the scarf and get the suit and tie tailored. The guy wears chucks. Who has more style? The guy that spent $10k on a Tom Ford suit or the vintage tailored suit guy. The clothing creates an interesting story that expresses who you are and how you value creativity such that your outfit shares that experience with another individual.
For a man to be stylish, he needs to be spirited. To be spirited, you have to be able to inspire. If you dress well and are considered stylish, you should inspire other people. Being a gentleman is a 24 hour job. It’s simple things like good manners and being nice. You can’t build a bridge if you’re not humble and enthusiastic. Use style to bridge gaps that exist within the culture that has meaning. You can make things easy for people to get inspired. No judgment, just encouragement. I try to encourage guys to want to dress up for the right reason. Otherwise, you’re a charlatan.
Mr. Refined: This is at the heart of what we’re trying to do. A guidepost of what we are about. Getting to the heart of the why? Why does it matter? Why do we care? Maybe it goes back to a memory or a story or to time spent building memories with an uncle or grandfather.
AS: My goal is to empower guys in dress wear. There has to be a greater issue, which is why we have the tag line “undressing the art of dressing up.” How are we building bridges and connecting people – building humanity not barriers? What’s the story behind it? The story is what makes me connect to people. The story gives people a voice to express themselves. The story behind Mr. Refined creates the editorial voice and ethos of how and why Mr. Refined operates. Is what Kim Kardashian doing making a difference in anyone’s lives besides making herself rich? I don’t think that will resonate long term.
Mr. Refined: I think people will always be curious of the “other” side like the Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous. My growth was due to people asking, “What’s your inspiration?” I want people to see life through my lens, but making it bigger than me, hence Mr. Refined.
AS: I am tremendously excited about what’s happening in menswear. However, I look at the photos of my father and his friends at Yale in the 1940s. If they were here today wearing that, they would fit right in. There’s nothing new under the sun. We’re just following in the footsteps of gentlemen before. Jordan didn’t redefine the game of basketball – Oscar Robinson, Julius Irving, Bill Russell and others would laugh. But you should appreciate other people that have done this in the past. I think some of these bloggers are taking themselves too seriously.
Mr. Refined: I envision bringing everyone together. There are so many people in the men’s lifestyle space. We’re doing different things, but beating the same drum. Let’s create something to give people what they really want. People want that connection.
AS: You said it in one word: connection. We’re not really different. We all want the same thing and have the same fears and insecurities that define us more than what state, city, or coast you’re from.
For a man to be stylish, he needs to be spirited. To be spirited, you have to be able to inspire. If you dress well and are considered stylish, you should inspire other people.
Mr. Refined: I’ve come across people from all walks of life trying to figure out how to make it. They are trying to figure out how to get from where they are to where they want to go. For Mr. Refined, I want our articles as deep as we can go or as deep as we want to go. I didn’t have a mentor, so I listened to podcasts and tried to meet people like yourself that can inspire others. The goal is about making the connections and capturing the energy to inspire yourself to get where you need to be.
AS: That’s universal. The idea of betterment and achieving greater heights. The analogy I give for creating suits is pizza. Whether you can afford a $1 slice or $20 slice, you want value in what it is. You want to eat that $1 slice like it’s the best $1 slice out there. The $20 slice shouldn’t taste like the $1 slice. It doesn’t mean that the pizza has to be $20 slice to have a rich experience. It’s about finding worthiness and being satisfied that the experience was rich.
Mr. Refined: Life is about those rich experiences. Things are just accumulation. There should be fun attached. Let’s dig into your inspiration and father figures.
AS: I do a podcast and interviewed Ignacio Quiles. We were talking role models as far as dressing up. The beauty of social media is that there is a lot more access for people who didn’t have those role models. But I think that it is also important to try to identify with role models living a spirited life.
Mr. Refined: In terms of style and spiritedness, a lot of people look like they have a low spirit or carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. Any commentary?
AS: One of the keys of having a rich life is the ability to listen. The beauty of having children is that it takes the focus off yourself. When you communicate with people there has to be a richness to it. For whatever reason, we’re drawn to greatness, beauty, strength, intelligence, and creativity. We certainly want to connect. When we connect with those things we say are great, that’s what inspires us.
I am knowledgeable about dressing up, but I want to make it readily aware that I’m easily approachable. I’m trying to encourage people to be smart when you dress up. Be occasion appropriate, but no matter what dress in a way that you have fun. If you’re only eating to give your body nutrients for survival, then you miss on the richness of enjoying great food. In the same way, you need to dress to get through your day, but there’s a difference between surviving and thriving. Dress to thrive not merely for survival.
Mr. Refined: You talk about Steph Curry and basketball a lot.
AS: I’m a huge basketball fan. I love Magic Johnson. He has style and inspires other people by putting them in positions to succeed. He did this on court with his team members and off court in his business. Jordan isn’t a guy that I look up to as a man. Magic looks happy and has an infectious spirit. Jordan doesn’t seem happy. I think the connection between Larry bird and Magic Johnson was huge. They made each other and teammates better. Both were determined. You need to involve people, to connect and engage with them, which is why I hate Kobe. He emasculates teammates instead of making them feel part of the team.
A $10k suit that doesn’t fit well is not better than a Zara or H&M suit that is fitted. Keep it simple. Keeping it simple will always give you an advantage because it’s clean. Frame yourself so that people see you.
I am trying to make guys feel comfortable dressing up. It’s not about the amount spent. There’s nothing more important than fit. A $10k suit that doesn’t fit well is not better than a Zara or H&M suit that is fitted. Keep it simple. Keeping it simple will always give you an advantage because it’s clean. Frame yourself so that people see you. Find that balance between the accents and accessories. Challenge yourself once a week to keep it very simple. Guys become too inclined to overcomplicate things. You don’t want to make so that people can’t focus on who you really are.
Mr. Refined: I think with style, people need to find what suits them. Wear what the individual feels comfortable.
AS: I will challenge you on that. It can’t simply be about what feels comfortable. There are standards that within that you can become better rounded. People will respect you more because of the ability to hone the core skills. Learn the rules so that you can break them. But you first must learn the rules [of style and layering].
Mr. Refined: What’s next for Alexander Nash?
AS: Day by day. Change the flowers, change the fruit. Talk to people. Try to have an impact. Teach people how to dress. Remind people to have fun. I love the fact that so many people are interested in dressing up. We’re standing on the shoulders of giants. I look a photos of my uncles and how they dressed. I use that as inspiration. I seriously think that in the next 5-10 years, people will look back at this time and say that it was seminal in the men’s style movement. This era will be seminal in the men’s wear space.
Dressing up is a means to an end, a way to connect. It enriches that palate of us as humans. I hope that my suits stack up to the richness of experience you expect.
It’s about being a gentleman and being nice. Dressing up is a means to an end, a way to connect. It enriches that palate of us as humans. I hope that my suits stack up to the richness of experience you expect. Enjoy your pizza. Whether it’s a dollar slice or $20 slice, get the best for the value. One is not necessarily better than the other. I hope the same thing with our suits. I like you try it on, sit down, talk, feel comfortable and inspired by dressing up. Learn about how the garments fit you to the point where this becomes a rich experience. It’s about empowerment.
Mr. Refined: How do you feel about the mid-level made-to measure stores like SuitSupply?
AS: It’s not a $1 slice. It’s the $2.50 slice. It’s has its advantages. It’s not the $20 slice. It just depends on what you want and what you have. They do nice stuff.
For Mr. Refined, talking with Alex Sumner was indeed a rich experience. To learn more about the Alexander Nash experience, you can visit the Chelsea studio at: