A Man With A Stylish Plan, Mark Chris
It’s no shocker that the majority of men lack style. Many, including myself, will just default to a plain white v-neck tee (or black when its 110 degrees outside with no clouds in sight) a properly fitted pair of jeans and a clean pair of Converse kicks. Let’s be real, we all see the men’s wear posts across nearly every medium of social media but do we learn anything from that? At all? I would venture to say no, why? I think too many of us guys are too caught up in our own default comfortable way. No, don’t get me wrong, I know I can clean up and will when I need to but for day-in and day-out activities, I generally keep it pretty damn basic. However, according to my good friend Mark Chris, that does not have to be the case. In his own words (revised in my own words), fashion is what you are comfortable with however, you can just make few tweaks here and there to edge it up.
I know there are a handful of fashion oriented gentlemen and ladies in our subscriber list, I also know that there are a handful of optimistic and success hungry subscribers as well. So with that, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to interview the man with the stylish plan himself and get his insight on not just fashion, but also owning and operating a rapidly growing brand in an ever changing industry.
So, lets get to it:
R&R: What was your original vision for your brand before you started and how has that changed, if any, since then?
Mark Chris: I would not say much has changed other than becoming more versatile both in design and as a brand. My initial vision was to create only high fashion dress shoes, shoes you would spend $600 or more for. But as my consumer base grew, I found out that an expansion of styles and price ranges would be highly accepted by nearly every consumer, something I had not initially thought of. Boots are also trending heavily now, which is something that I am adapting into our business. While I originally planned on rolling out designs and styles out as I saw fit, I have adapted to roll with the market, more so than my own vision.
R&R: In your opinion, where do you see the future of fashion business going? How are you aligned with that?
Mark Chris: I feel we’re hitting a new era in fashion, it’s going to continue to get more streamlined and competitive due to today’s technology. I think people have already started to notice how archaic the system has been, and with social media I think it’s going to continue to level the playing field. I think instead of just a few big brands, we’ll continue to see more and more new brands pop up and take market share. Simply because designers are now able to express what they do and get it out to the world much easier than they used to. I feel that I am aligned with that as I am already riding that wave, so I anticipate that I will continue to grow my own brand through strategy & product expansion. The key is to think years down the road, not focus on today.
R&R: What are the biggest challenges for you, or anyone getting started in fashion, in an industry that is ever changing (no pun intended)?
Mark Chris: The biggest challenge I think you’ll ever face trying to get into such a competitive market is yourself. You need to be determined, motivated, persistent, and no matter how many times you get knocked down, you must stay true to your vision and get back up. I believe between that mindset is majority of the battle, the rest is just going through the the motions step by step and creating your brand. While I “want” to say that the big challenges are creating designs that are in line with the trends, or preferably a step ahead, I am probably an unorthodox designer in the sense that I really don’t pay much attention to the trends. While it’s important, I tend to focus more on what I can create that will be modern enough to be fluid with current trends, but also creating designs that are timeless and will be a staple style in menswear for years to come.
R&R: Let’s talk men’s fashion, what is the most common misconception that the majority of men think that may keep them from stepping up their fashion game?
Mark Chris: I actually think social media has helped men step up their fashion game. Dressing well and being stylish has become much more mainstream for men than I think it used to be. It’s inspiring, and there are so many accounts people can follow to get fashion ideas or inspiration from. A lot of my close friends who were never fashion forward now are dressing better, and they will flat out tell me that they go to my page to see what to wear -so I think it’s been a huge positive. I guess if I had to address a misconception, one of the biggest ones I’ve noticed on social media seems to be “tighter is better”, particularly with mens blazers.
I would address how high some men hem their slacks, but that can get tricky. To focus on blazers, there is a huge difference between a suit fitting slim and properly, and just being way too small. A good rule of thumb is, if your blazer is buckled when you button it, it’s too tight, and if you can’t button your blazer, well that should be obvious. The solution is simple, get your proper size suit, and then have a tailor pull in the areas where there is excess fabric.
R&R: How does women’s fashion vary from men’s fashion in terms of business operations and in terms of your creative process for design? Are Mark Chris shoes for women on the horizon?
Mark Chris: In my opinion mens fashion is more focused and doesn’t change as rapidly. Women have a significant amount of different types of articles of clothing that they can wear, whereas with mens our options are more straight-forward, such as jeans, suits and such. In regards to a women’s line, yes. I can’t say when but we are looking to launch a women’s line. I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but I can say it will start in slippers as well, and then expand from there.
R&R: One last statement, and I know you know what I am asking thus making it a statement…socks.
Mark Chris: (MC in laughter) The million dollar question, I’m glad you brought that up. Honestly, 90% of the time it’s just preference. There’s no right or wrong about it, it’s just each individual’s personal style preference. Now yes, there are certain shoes and occasions that warrant socks, for example lace-up shoes, or if you’re at a formal wedding, then socks are appropriate. But most of the time it’s your own discretion. Socks add a layer of formal, whereas no socks give an outfit a more casual yet sleek look.
So there you have it, be bold and stay true to your vision and style in your own way with pride. Now, keep in mind that Mark is pure 100% grade A men’s fashion and he probably knows that he is the best dressed man in any room. But, he is a humble guy, an honest guy and just an all around ideal gentlemen and I personally think that is what contributes to his success with his own brand, Mark Chris Shoes.
Be sure to check him out on Instagram @mrmensfashion and of course his shoe line at @markchris_shoes!