A Conversation with Scott Sternberg of Band of Outsiders

Long a staple in the fashion industry known for its charmingly quirky take on the preppy aesthetic, LA-based menswear label Band of Outsiders has garnered a cult following over its ten years in operation. Having dressed half of Hollywood in his creations, with the likes of Jason Schwartzmann and Kirsten Dunst having appeared in his Polaroid seasonal campaigns, founder and designer Scott Sternberg recently talked to i-D magazine about his experiences running the label over that period of time, touching on the origins of the label, the evolution of menswear in the past decade and, of course, what the future holds for his brand. Read the excerpt below and find the entire interview over here.
What was the climate like for an upcoming designer back in 2004? How do you feel that’s changed?
It felt like there were less young brands in the market at that time, especially in menswear. It also felt like there weren’t very high barriers to entry. Magazines were excited about new brands, not that they aren’t anymore, but I think now it’s a much more dense and cluttered environment. It’s become sort of a cottage industry, harbouring young designers’ careers. And that’s a good thing, because it keeps those barriers to entry equally as low as when I started. But it’s certainly more noisy and cluttered now.
What have been some of your favourite collaborative projects?
I loved working with Sperry Topsider back in the day. Not by design but just by chance, I really had a strong instinct that I wanted to make boat shoes – sort of fuck with them and bring something new to it. It opened up a whole new audience well beyond the core skinny preppy guy and expanded people’s perception of the brand. It was also really fun! We made some super imaginative product with them. They really gave us carte blanche to do whatever we wanted.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in the past decade?
I think the most important thing is to stay focused on a very clear message and very clear product. It’s so easy to be seduced by everything in the fashion conversation: other designers, what’s in stores, what’s selling, what might be a trend, what might not be, and everything in between. There are a lot of brands out there, a lot for a customer to buy, a lot of messages for them to take in and process and try to understand. So focusing and keeping things simple is the best approach for sure.


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