How Todd Snyder Is Decoding Luxury Menswear for a New Generation

What do you get when a down-to-earth Midwesterner with an architectural bent cultivates an obsession with Italian fabrics, a love of English shop culture, and a very Ralph retail savvy? Todd Snyder—plus the $100 million brand that bears his name.

Following his standout fall-winter 2024 runway show at the Pitti Uomo menswear exhibition in January, the designer discusses the label’s move upmarket, the state of American luxury, getting collaborations right, and the “superpower” of decoding fashion for men. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

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Let’s start with your first European runway show in Florence recently, which seemed to herald a more luxurious and fashion-forward moment for you. What prompted that shift? 

It was almost like a rebirth of the brand in a way. I wanted to be able to show who I am and what the Todd Snyder brand means for our next phase. I think it’s very important to reposition ourselves at that level—plus it helps bring so much energy into the brand. Italy is really special to me because all of our fabrics are Italian, and when I fell in love with fashion back in the ’80s, ’90s, it was Armani, it was mostly Italians that I looked at. [Doing the show] brought me back to what got me into this business.

Do you see yourself targeting the same customer as the big luxury houses with more couture backgrounds, just from a different angle? Or are you leading your existing customer into that next price point? 

I think our customer spans both. I’ve always tried to position my brand as an approachable one. When I worked in retail, I worked in this amazing men’s store in Des Moines called Badowers—that’s where I learned how to sew, how to tailor, and got into the whole craft of making clothes. And we knew every customer that came in. So when I was opening stores, that was such a huge component, to be an approachable brand.

For me, it was always about having a brand that I would wear and my dad would wear. What I was very intrigued with about Ralph [Lauren] when I used to wear it as a young kid is that my dad wore it, too. I thought, “Wow, that’s a brand.” That’s power, having the kind of product that spans two generations, sometimes even three. We have that in our stores—we get a dad bringing his son in for his first suit.

Details from Todd Snyder's Rockefeller Center store, one of four N.Y.C. outposts.
Details from Todd Snyder’s Rockefeller Center store, one of four N.Y.C. outposts.

We’ve always had things that I would consider luxury, like 100 percent cashmere chore coats that retailed for three, four thousand dollars. The thing I quickly noticed—because we make a lot in Italy, we produce in all the same factories the luxury places use, I buy the same fabric they do—is that our markup is a lot different than their markup. Could we charge more for this product? We could. It’s really more perception and marketing than people think.

Your label is also known for its e-commerce, direct-to-consumer success. What’s the key to creating authenticity online? And will you need to tweak your approach going forward given the new direction? 

You have to have great product. And I really spend a lot of time on design. I touch everything—the buttons, the fabric, it’s my favorite thing. But I’m always trying to present in a way that the customer understands it. The second step is telling the story. I think that’s where the true art happens. How you made it, who you made it with and, you know, “Hey, there are three ways to wear this suit.” Kind of decoding fashion for men. That, to me, is probably our superpower.

You talk a lot about storytelling. At the heart of every story there’s a protagonist. Who do you see when you picture your protagonist? Who’s the Todd Snyder guy? 

My hack has always been that I think of a character, a persona. What I love about Paul Newman is that he can dress up or he can be on a motorcycle in jeans and he looks cool as hell. And this was before stylists. This is him being him—he doesn’t change who he is. Which to me says a lot. Alain Delon is another who’s just so cool and timeless. Luckily we’ve had a lot of celebrities wear our product. Jake Gyllenhaal’s one of my favorites. Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds—they all buy it. We get the whole customer spectrum.

The designer in his element: among product.
The designer in his element: among product.

Another secret-sauce question: The collaboration ecosystem has been saturated for ages, but some collabs still break through and really resonate. You seem to have a knack for them. What does a collaboration need to make it work? 

I don’t like to do brands that everybody has touched or become a revolving door. I want to tell a different story. And I really get into it. I dig deep into their archives; I dig deep into what I think is going to be different from what they’ve done before. I want to be authentic, but I’m always trying to breathe life into it, to make something new versus regurgitating things that have been done. I think that’s the reason they resonate: because they’re different from what people expect.

I did that with L. L. Bean. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was the first designer they ever did a collaboration with, and that one, I have to say, I was most nervous about because I’d been to Maine probably a dozen times during the process. I got to know the people well—they’re very, very proud people. That’s when I learned about being a Mainer versus being “from away,” and I was from away. Me coming in as an outsider into a brand like L. L. Bean, it was intimidating because I didn’t want to piss off their customers!

I use this word a lot, but it’s all about juxtaposition. How do you take two things that you don’t typically think of together, and how do they fit? When we were doing the Woolrich collection [Note: Snyder is the brand’s new creative director], I was like, “They’re known for these big, wool, itchy blanket-plaid shirts—why don’t we do them in cashmere?” So we did these beautiful Italian cashmere shirts. It’s the juxtaposition of taking something utility and making it luxury.

Woolrich, L. L. Bean, Moscot, New Balance—you like working with American labels. What are your thoughts on the state of American luxury as it compares with Europe and elsewhere? 

Obviously, Ralph is king of that kingdom, but there are a lot of interesting players. You have the big houses that are well backed, well funded—they pump a lot of money into the machine, and they get a lot of attention. They all have a playbook, and if you notice, it’s the same playbook. The difference with American luxury is, there’s no big houses saying, “Here’s a wad of cash, let’s go hire all these celebrities and then stage a big-ass runway show.” You have a much more fragmented point of view here. Everybody has their own script, which is really interesting. That’s what I love about American luxury right now—it’s not formulaic. You’ve got Jerry Lorenzo [Fear of God], Mike Amiri, Thom Browne, me, Teddy Santis with Aimé Leon Dore, and everyone is doing it their own way.

A wool double- breasted Wythe suit styled with swagger
at Todd Snyder's FW24 runway show at Pitti (left); a similarly slouchy Belmont Jacket and Hollywood Dress Pant (right) from the SS24 “La Playa” collection.
A wool double-breasted Wythe suit styled with swagger at Todd Snyder’s FW24 runway show at Pitti (left); a similarly slouchy Belmont Jacket and Hollywood Dress Pant (right) from the SS24 “La Playa” collection.

Back in 2016, after one of your shows you said, “They want me to be the next great American designer,” and you talked about putting a stake into the ground for your brand, for what it meant. Eight years later, following your big show in Florence, some people have been mentioning you as the heir apparent to your old boss, Ralph Lauren. How do you feel about that mantle? 

It’s definitely something I dreamt of—still dream of, I would say. By no means am I there. I’ve still got my head down, trying to do the best I can and grow the business. We’ll probably have 20 stores at the end of this year and probably another five in 2025.

It’s daunting. I don’t think about it every day except, you know, the more stores you have, the bigger the bull’s-eye on you. But we’re ready. I’ve been in the business 30 years. I love designing product. I still design product. That will always be me.

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