Fred and I met years ago in Dallas, TX when he was involved in the banking industry, even before his well known style blog Unabashedly Prep was created. Photography and fashion were things he was involved with, and it was only a matter of time before his expertise would bring him to New York City. We had a great time exploring downtown Brooklyn, eating hot dogs at Nathan’s in Coney Island, and enjoying the “Dance Parade” while eating our tortas and tacos at Tortaria in Greenwich Village. This is definitely one of the more in depth posts for the People I Know series.
In your own words, describe what you do and who you are.
In the interest of keeping this brief, I am a creative working in fashion, photography, and social media. While formerly a freelance fashion photographer, I recently joined an iconic American lifestyle fashion brand in New York as a director of concept design. I have also been publishing the style blog Unabashedly Prep since 2009.
What inspired you to start Unabashedly Prep?
I was thumbing through a Teen Vogue issue (January 2009) and stopped at an article about a teen shoe blogger. Straight strawberry blonde hair framed these youthful milky-skinned cheek bones—she’d just been awarded the opportunity to design a capsule shoe collection for Urban Outfitters. She was only 17 and publishing her wildly popular style blog out of my backyard (Dallas). All I could think was, “Why am I not doing this?” It was inspiring. Seventeen seconds later I was brainstorming what would later become Unabashedly Prep.
What men’s brands and styles have influenced your own taste?
While most Americans possessed, at the very least, an ambient awareness of Polo by Ralph Lauren in the early 90s, I wasn’t wearing it. I loved the sensibility but the fit wasn’t what I wanted. There was this baggy thing going on at the time—all the kids were practically drowning in their clothes. What did fit was Abercrombie & Fitch. I remember meticulously pouring over the first ever A&F Quarterly and seeing a pair of slim denim with a slight taper that actually fit properly. I thought, “That’s it. That looks great.” I grabbed my mom, flipped on the charm (hey, somebody had to pay for the Shetland sweaters, chinos, and oxfords I was feverishly circling in the catalogue), and we were off to the nearest A&F shop 40 miles away. The next day at school classmates stared at me like I was sleepwalking the halls naked. I couldn’t care less because it didn’t feel juvenile…it felt cool. I was 15 at the time.
Eventually, Abercrombie & Fitch mutated into the sex-peddling, logo-flinging jeans and T-shirt monstrosity you see today—a brittle shell of its former nouveau-prep glory. They lost me when they quit designing sport coats, sweater vests, and ties. When Ralph Lauren introduced Rugby in 2004, a line with the silhouettes and sensibilities of a younger guy, I started pulling their new takes on old classics into my wardrobe.
Three years later, I met Sid Mashburn when I interviewed him for Unabashedly Prep. It was then that I began to appreciate the beauty of a “uniform.” There is an ease about a great jean, an English bench-made shoe, a dress shirt, tie, and blazer that still looks put together.
What are your favourite items for the summer?
• Ralph Lauren boat shoes (made in Maine)
• Rugby’s sun-washed chino shorts
• Ray Ban’s Meteor sunglass
• Ralph Lauren white suede bucks
• Swiss Army Day Glow pocket knife (you never know when you’ll have to MacGuyver your way out of a situation)
• my 1987 BMW 535i (on the highway with the sunroof open and windows down, there’s few experiences better on a summer evening).
• a killer summer playlist
• John Dalys
• Lotuff & Clegg walnut leather weekend duffle bag
• colorful nylon watch bands
Help the men that are reading this and the women who love them. What are the standard pieces that every guy should have?
• Navy blazer
• grey tropical wool trousers
• a great fitting washed jean (look at RRL)
• multiple dress shirts and oxfords in blue and white
• a navy silk knit tie
• a silver engine turn buckle (monogrammed) and brown leather strap
• a brown penny loafer
• a brown pair of wingtips
• a good umbrella
• a parka (for the winters)
• a pair of Tort shell sunglasses
• a Burberry trench coat
What is your experience in NYC and how did you finally end up living here?
My relationship with New York began as one big exercise in flirting. I’d visit monthly for work when I was freelancing as a fashion photographer. That back and forth carried on for two years. Somehow I always managed to land on a couch—a testament to the quality and quantity of relationships I was fortunate enough to cultivate during my time there. Although I grew to love the Big Apple, never once did I really imagine myself calling it home. I was happy to just continue visiting for work. My sons were in Dallas and that’s where my heart was. It wasn’t until an insanely great opportunity forced my hand that I packed up my apartment and made the 1,600 mile move.
I love New York. There truly is no other city in the States like it. There’s an energy here that lights you up. While the sheer population of Manhattan alone can seem overwhelming, I actually appreciate how small town it can feel given the frequency of which I bump into people I know. Currently, I fly back to Dallas to see my boys one weekend a month now and talk to them daily. I tell my boys to live in New York at least once in their lives. What kind of dad would I be if I wasn’t taking my own advice?
Fred’s friend, Kirk Stafford, joined us for part of the shoot, and I was able to get a great shot of both of them at Coney Island.