Levi Sawyer has a way with color. The L.A.-based fashion stylist who specializes in menswear can take the most outrageous patterns and fabrics and twist them into an outfit predestined for greatness. While he expertly mixes high and low—once considered a novelty in the fashion world, but something that has since become a modus operandi for many stylists—Sawyer distinguishes himself most by combining seemingly clashing colors into the most complementary combinations. His style is loud and unrestrained without feeling gaudy or shocking, and he’s worked with some of the biggest names in the industry: Givenchy, Dolce & Gabbana, and Balenciaga, to name a few. We spoke with Sawyer about his fashion muses, favorite places to shop in L.A., and his upcoming project that he hopes will rock L.A.’s menswear fashion community. And if you’re looking for some daily fashion inspo, give him a follow on Instagram.
How did your career in the fashion industry get started?
Coincidentally I started my fashion career with the Levi‘s brand here in Los Angeles, initially as a retail manager and then progressed into working for the brand marketing showroom. At the showroom our team was responsible for styling bands, musicians, actors, and artists in Levi’s apparel at entertainment events like SXSW and Sundance Film Festival. Essentially creating Levi’s branded gifting lounges between L.A., San Francisco and New York, I wound up meeting a ton of stylists that I eventually began assisting doing wardrobe for TV, film, and print. It was then that I discovered my love for styling and creating my own aesthetic.
Who are your style muses?
David Bowie was and always will be at the top of my style muses list. His ability to convey so much uniqueness and androgyny will forever inspire me. I’d also consider genres and communities muses. For example, I love Tokyo street style. So in a way all of those people are muses because they represent such an imaginative community, and I love different aspects of how people dressed in the ’60s and ’70—so funky and colorful.
Favorite L.A.-based fashion designers and brands?
Right now I really love the brand Second Layer for their effortlessly cool skater-guy aesthetic. There is something simple and clean about their designs that really stands out to me. I also dig Golf Wang by Tyler the Creator because…lots of fun color and quirky mixing and matching of prints always gets me revved up. I’m a big fan of Celine, so I’d like to include it now that the brand is L.A. based and producing menswear but…we gotta wait until Hedi puts out his first collection. Can’t wait for that.
Describe your style in three words.
Colorful. Funky. Retro.
When you’re in a creative rut, what do you do to get re-inspired?
Looking at magazines always gets me inspired. I love looking back at different eras like the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, or the ’90s and remembering different moments in time that were visually inspiring. I also love looking at street style; there is so much innovation and raw originality that comes from real every day people. Honestly, I have even been inspired stylistically at a retirement community! Sometimes the grandma-and-grandpa style can be translated into something really fun. For me inspiration is everywhere.
What do you think makes L.A.’s fashion scene unique?
The weather and the insane amount of creative industries that exist in L.A. are all impacting how people dress. There’s a real eclectic mix of musicians, artists, actors, and other creatives constantly rotating through the city which I think keeps the fashion scene unique. I love that in L.A. you can see a dude wearing beat up Levi’s and vans with a loosely tailored blazer or a girl wearing a men’s suit with sneakers and it’s all so relevant to our community. We are lucky to have warmer weather because we can make casual dressing feel effortless and chic most days of the year!
That said, I’d also add that there seems to be a larger movement of fashion industry folks from NY and Europe finding a niche in L.A. I think that ten years ago if people asked “What is L.A. fashion?” they’d say it’s a bit beachy, blah, and all over the place, but there are some real prominent fashion houses impacting the West Coast bringing a much stronger influence.
Fashion trend you’re most excited about?
I do love that pastel colors and neons are having a moment across the runways these days, [and] you can really see it trickling into street style. It seems that the ’80s are also having a moment and that is totally OK with me! I’ll take a statement shoulder pad any day.
Worst fashion trend to have hit L.A.?
I would have to say ugh to UGG boots! I think they are the worst, haha. I also do not love the bohemian chic thing that is forever embedded in the L.A. culture, no hard feelings just feels very dated to me.
Best dressed celebrity?
Chloe Sevigny or Vincent Gallo
Can you tell us about you’re upcoming project, homme depot?
Yes! I’m disrupting the L.A. fashion community, bringing you a really cool online shop for menswear. I always correct my friends to make sure it’s pronounced “ohm-depot” without the “h,” because well…French. homme depot started as a joke between me and a buddy when we were sourcing art objects for a shoot at our neighborhood Home Depot last year. I had been wanting to create an online space for shop-worthy menswear and thought wait, let’s play with these words! Hence, homme depot was born. The idea behind homme depot is to bring really cool, well-styled clothing to your fingertips. Both an online depot and pop-up shop of curated vintage and second-hand pieces sourced by me. Most everything is sourced in L.A., so I really want to engage the L.A. fashion scene, inspiring a different kind of aesthetic to how guys can dress and perhaps how guys perceive their own style. There is also a community aspect. I’m going to include news about artists and models on the rise and feature a monthly muse where shoppers can send in their street style pics for a chance to be featured in a styled editorial for homme depot. Launching in May 2018!
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