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What It's Like To Have A Show At Fashion Week: Behind The Scenes With Todd Snyder

The former J.Crew menswear director presented his Spring 2014 designs at Fashion Week on Friday night. This is what it takes to turn six months of work into an hourlong display.

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Todd Snyder works hard.

Brendan Lowe

Snyder oversees two lines—Tailgate Clothing Company and his eponymous brand.

He started Tailgate, which focuses on college athletic apparel, in 1997 with his brother in their dad’s basement. “I started doing it purely because I had nothing to wear to football games when I went home.”

He left J. Crew in 2008 to start Todd Snyder. Tailgate has space six floors up. Those offices, Snyder says, are where “I get my sport on.”

He does grip-and-grins with Deepak Chopra.

Via Todd Snyder

The all-purpose alt-medicine healer has been wearing Todd Snyder for about a year. Friday, he came by the showroom to wish Todd luck and get fitted for a jacket.


And has six staffers to make sure his clothes get rolled out on a rack.

Brendan Lowe

Just hours before the show, conversation in the showroom centered on transportation options from the Chelsea offices to Lincoln Center. A van? A U-Haul? What about Uber?

But he still carries his own design board.

Brendan Lowe

The theme of Friday’s show was Blue Coast, referring to the stretch of the Mediterranean from southern France to northern Italy. When he was designing, Snyder said he was “thinking about the guy who’s taking his boat from coast to coast and docking. He’s an artist, a bit of a rebel but also sophisticated, mischievous.”

And waits in line with the rest of us.

Brendan Lowe

At the Lincoln Center entrance to Fashion Week, credentials were kings. Without them, you waited, even if the Jonas Brothers were coming to your show that night.

His designs are informed by his Iowa upbringing.

Brendan Lowe

Snyder grew up in Huxley, Iowa—on the 36-mile, arrow-straight stretch of US-69 North from Des Moines to Ames, it’s the only reason to turn.

Snyder returns to Iowa each August to “reconnect, re-center,” in his words, and to go to the Iowa State Fair. He once found Iowa’s simplicity boring; now, he thinks it’s beautiful and treasures his time there. “I wouldn’t be as good as I am if I didn’t have that.”

Pre-show, every strand counts—it can take three stylists to do one model’s hair.

Brendan Lowe

Back stage, makeup was done on the right, hair on the left, by teams of stylists, along two rows of tables with mirrors perched at 60-degrees angles and two 60-watt lights affixed to each (Fashion Week apparently hasn’t yet adopted environmentally friendly bulbs).


Make-up artists come equipped with more than 60 brushes—for sanitary purposes.

Brendan Lowe

Anna Conte of Aveda brings 6-8 sets of the same brushes to each show. Using the same brush on different models is heresy. “It’s just gross,” said Conte, citing pinkeye and dermatitis among the risks.

Salads are the size of a large forkful.

Brendan Lowe

Food was available, and models did eat, but protein was absent—veggie wraps and fruit kebabs were not—and salads could be consumed like a shot.

Really, they read!

Brendan Lowe

Other models read textbooks, Big Sur by Jack Kerouac, or Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon. Reid Watson read The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy. “I’m on a big southern gothic kick right now,” he said. “A lot of Faulkner, McCarthy.”

Watson just moved to New York from Texas.

“That’s why my head is in a book—I don’t fucking know anybody.”


The look book is almost as important as the show itself.

Brendan Lowe

Before the show, 22 models had to be formally photographed in less than 45 minutes. These shots go to publications like GQ and Women’s Wear Daily.

The Jonas Brothers were there.

Brendan Lowe

Snyder understands his role at Fashion Week, but says he’s most comfortable designing in his studio. “I’m much more shy than I appear.”

And not all Fashion Week shows involve runways — Snyder’s was a presentation.

Brendan Lowe

Presentations involve no model movement. They’re cheaper, allow for a larger and more diverse audience, and enable the audience—in this case, store buyers, photographers, stylists, manufacturers, and the like, including Jenna Lyons, the creative director at J. Crew—to get a closer look at the offerings.


More expensive, more attractive mannequins, but mannequin-like all the same.

Brendan Lowe

Is it hard not to move for an hour while maintaining the relaxed, confident look of a rebellious artist docking his boat on the Cote d’Azur?

“I took Adderall from when I was 10 to when I was 16,” said Watson, the model from Texas, “so I’m really fucking good at spacing out.”

No socks were involved in the creation of this show.

Brendan Lowe

As Snyder staffer David Bruno said before the show, “No socks. No one’s wearing socks. It’s a sockless show. You notice anyone wearing socks around here?”

Snyder said all he wanted to do after the show was sleep.

Brendan Lowe

Six minutes after the show's end, the models had gotten out of their clothes and were off, like middle school students changing from gym class and scurrying to Algebra.


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