The Man Behind Nautica Won’t Ever Put You in Camouflage

There’s a good chance you’re  already familiar with Nautica. With its sporty polos, minimalist sail logo, and penchant for primary colours, the brand has worked hard to become a reliable go-to for men since it launched in 1983.

And while Steve McSween (not McQueen — those are two different Steves), Nautica’s VP of men’s global design is new to the brand (he was appointed in late 2014 and showed his first collection for spring 2016), chances are you have some of his work hanging in your closet. With stints at the Gap, Club Monaco, and Sean John, he is using this past experience to give Nautica a more contemporary edge.

“I looked at those iconic nautical categories and wanted to make them relevant and exciting and be able to hit some of the trend moments within them,” he says. There’s a level of respect for what has come before, but also an eagerness to push the boundaries. McSween is taking classic pieces and rethinking their silhouettes or using unexpected fabrics — a direction that aims to attract new customers, without alienating the men who have been with the brand from the beginning. After all, menswear can be rough. Luckily there’s a steady hand at the wheel — even luckier that he has a taste for adventure, too.

The Hero Survey: Steve McSween

What do you think of the current state of menswear?

It’s nice that you don’t have to push innovation or the need for guys to be savvy up a hill anymore. I think guys have realized that it’s something for them to figure out and be on top of. People know that they’ve got to show up, and they’ve got to show up put together, and they’ve got to show up smart.

What is one item every man should have in his wardrobe?

A quality blazer is suitable for any occasion. With a clean pair of jeans, a slim short, or a tailored Oxford shirt, looking pulled together is key for “showing up.”

What’s one trend you are tired of?

Camouflage. I have seen it in everything from bags and garments to towels and soap. I need a break.

Where do you turn when you need to be inspired?

Travel. I enjoy observing personal style outside of my usual corners. When I’m traveling, I get the opportunity to live in the shoes of others while taking in another perspective.

What designer do you most admire?

I have always been an admirer of Charles and Ray Eames. I love their simple, but effective graphic prints.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

A musician. I have played bass since childhood.

In what era do you think men dressed the best?

The early 1950s, especially in all things sport and leisure.

In what era do you think men dressed the worst?

Although I grew up in the 1980s, I can’t see the style of that era beyond childhood nostalgia.

Who, living or dead, would you most like to dress?

Paul Newman or Warren Beatty. American style icons, without a doubt.

What do you do when you have a night off?

Reconnect with my family, cook a festive meal, and reflect on what’s going on in all of our lives.

What’s the next big trend in menswear?

I think we can all see technology embedding itself into everything we wear and consume.

Lightning Round! Pick One:

Single- or double-breasted jacket? Single
Collared shirt or T-shirt? Collared
Pleated pants or not? Not
Chinos or jeans? Jeans
Sneakers or Oxfords? Sneakers