Our Massdrop Profile series introduces you to the people behind the communities you love. They’re responsible for sourcing products, communicating with members, and making our site an awesome place to hang out. You might recognize them from Discussions you follow—they’re the smiling avatars next to those tiny Massdrop logos—and now you can get to know the personalities behind the handles.
This time, we’re talking to Men’s Style Buyer Ian Anderson. First, we’ll let you read a little about his background and passions. Then, we’ll turn the mic over for a community Q&A. Submit your questions in the comment section, and stay tuned for the answers in a follow-up post.
What do you do at Massdrop?
I run the Men’s Style community here at Massdrop. I work on bringing great new products to the site, setting up collaborative projects between brands and the community, and planning out the growth of the men’s style community over time. I also read and reply to your comments every day!
When did you start getting into the men’s style community? What got you interested—a forum, a product, a friend, a family member, a magazine?
In a vague sense, my interest in menswear began when I was a kid. I grew up in a small town with no real access to good clothing and no strong sense of style (these were the pre-Internet days, after all). Back then, I didn’t know the first thing about clothing at all but I loved the idea of dressing well—I was fascinated by the sense of power and authority a person could exude by just wearing a well-fitting suit. Lots of people in my hippie Oregon town had a “stick it to the man” attitude, but I wanted to be the man, you know?
It wasn't until much later, when I was a grad student at Stanford, that my interest in clothing began to solidify. For the first time in my life, I was around people who knew how to dress well and had access to nice clothing. Unlike them, I didn’t have a suit-wearing father who could teach me how to tie a four-in-hand, but I was determined to figure out what they knew that I didn’t. Since I knew that I’d be starting my professional career after graduation, I began burying myself in Styleforum posts and blogs, and began eBay-hunting and sale-shopping so that I could slowly build up a nice professional wardrobe with my meager grad school budget.
Tell us about your closet. How is it organized, and how do you decide what to put on in the morning?
All navy everything. Just kidding. Kind of. In all seriousness, I love wearing simple, boring clothes. To this day, my wardrobe is pretty basic. No loud colors, no crazy pieces. I relish the subtle differences between each of my navy blazers, all of my blue striped shirts, brown shoes, and so forth. For me, I much prefer to blend in than to stand out, and I love the ease of having a muted, simple wardrobe. At the end of the day, I'd rather leave a vague impression of being well put together than be known as that guy with a really extreme-looking jacket.
In terms of what sort of pieces I rely on, I wear a lot of clothing in that gray area between formal and casual—Oxford and chambray shirts, cotton chinos, wingtip bluchers, suede chukkas, soft sportcoats, and the like. Pieces like that are highly versatile and keep my wardrobe flexible. Throw a pair of jeans, a field jacket, and a nice pair of shades into the mix and that’s pretty much how I dress most of the time.
What’s the biggest investment you’ve made (priciest item you’ve purchased) while building your closet?
I've spent a pretty penny on custom suits and sportcoats over the years, and have no regrets whatsoever because I feel amazing in them. Now that I don't have to dress as formally for work, my big ticket items tend to be footwear and outerwear.
What’s a small addition that can make a big difference to your closet?
A great wallet. A wallet is something that you use every day, for years or even decades. It's absolutely worth spending a bit of money to get something that you'll love using - the dollars-per-use ratio is super low. Find something made out of great leather from a tannery with a good reputation, and look for a design that works for your lifestyle and signs of handwork like saddle stitching and edge burnishing. My favorite wallets come from my good friend Bellanie at Chester Mox—worth every penny, and then some. Every time I pull it out of a pocket, I can’t help but smile.
What did you do before working at Massdrop?
Before my quarter-life-crisis, I worked as a structural engineer for a large design firm. I had the wonderful opportunity to help with the design of some amazing structures all around the world. Working with world-class architects and getting to leave my mark on the world through the built environment was very rewarding, but ultimately I found that I lacked a creative outlet (my job was mostly math, after all). I started a men’s style blog on the side to give me a place to write, and after a couple of years it grew quite a bit and became a lot more fun than my normal job. After a few more serendipitous detours in my career path, I was able to start working in the menswear industry full time and haven’t looked back for a second.
What’s your favorite thing about working here?
To me, Massdrop is all about my relationships with people—my coworkers, the vendors I get to collaborate with, and all the users on the site who I chat with all day. Massdrop is built on people who are passionate about their hobbies, and I think that mentality extends to the employees at the company and brands we work with as well. We all love the products we surround ourselves with, and that’s what ties us all together.
Which clothing companies are you most excited about today?
The past 5 years have been a great time to be into menswear. For one, a lot of new brands have come in and challenged the way we think about retail and how much it costs to buy great stuff. The barrier of entry has been lowered for many niche products like raw denim and welted footwear, which is great for the average consumer.
Moreover, lots of wonderful manufacturers from around the world that had no global distribution can now be seen and purchased online. It’s never been easier to find great stuff from all corners of the world, which is really exciting to me. Whether it’s cut-out-the-middleman brands like Warby Parker and Suitsupply, or local manufacturers turned Internet darlings like Vass and Ring Jacket, the menswear world is ripe with great products right now.
If you could only wear one brand, what would it be?
Ralph Lauren. In my mind there’s no brand that can do the breadth that they do, from the rugged and casual RRL line to the exquisite lavishness of Purple Label.
What is your favorite piece in your wardrobe?
I’m terrible at picking favorites, but here are a couple: my grandfather’s Omega, my Crockett & Jones penny loafers, an old pair of APC jeans, and my hopsack navy blazer.
Bonus: favorite travel destination?
Some people dream about white sand beaches and drinks with umbrellas in them; I fantasize about cool weather and mountains. Put me on a dude ranch in Wyoming or campsite in Oregon over a tropical getaway any day.
Leave your questions for Ian in the comment section—or just drop a quick “Hello!” We’ll have his answers for you in an upcoming Q&A post. Hit the "Follow" button to get notified about future articles from this account.