We've all seen the white bearded hard-***, dressed like a million bucks on our favorite blogs and web sites. But few know that Nick Wooster's really just a humble, slightly shy guy from middle of nowhere Kansas, who happens to have a gift for looking good. Gilt Man's Fashion Adviser ordered the chicken Caesar salad (e-commerce demands a strict diet) and let us in on the man behind the 'stache.
GQ: Are you surprised that street style has become so popular?
Nick Wooster: It 100% caught me by surprise. The only person I was really aware of was Scott Schuman. While in Los Angeles, I used to think to myself, "****, I wish I lived in New York." We only had Bill Cunningham, who was really the godfather of it all. One day, Tommy Ton, who was the first one to take my picture, took my picture and it appeared on GQ.com. I was literally in Milan when all of a sudden I started getting all of these messages from people telling me about it. I didn't even know that GQ had—sorry!—that feature on the web site. I think it's important because I think it's good for business, I think it's good for brands and I think it's good for designers. It's just good for everyone, you know?
GQ: The honeymoon is over though! Everyone has a street style section of their magazine or web site now. Has it gone too far?
Nick Wooster: Well, you know, like anything, too much of a good thing is maybe not good. That's certainly been my experience. I laugh about this all the time, saying "I'm sick of myself. Aren't you people sick of me yet?" You know, like I said, I am truly flattered and honored, but now there's haters [and] you get the negative comments. And that hurts, I'm a human being. We're all human beings and nobody's harder on myself than I am.
GQ: The Internet is so damn angry.
Nick Wooster: Right. But there's nothing that anyone can say that I haven't probably thought of myself. I've always dressed differently. I've always had my own deal.
GQ: Is there a particular picture that you look back at and regret?
Nick Wooster: Last winter in February, there was a day that I wore this black bowler hat. The bowler doesn't fit me but it was a gift and I loved the idea of a hat. But I looked like a grandmother, like a grandmother with a beard. It was not a good look. But I will continue to make sartorial mistakes, that's part of the job.
GQ: It comes with the territory, in any business, artist, person...
Nick Wooster: Absolutely!
GQ: You've been working at Gilt for a while now and more recently, Park & Bond
Nick Wooster: Yep.
GQ: What's your take on the e-commerce boom? Does it detract from the allure of shopping in stores?
Nick Wooster: It's shocking because I'm used to being around physical merchandise in a store, walking through and feeling the clothes. Gilt's not like that. We work with some of the most amazing imagery and great editorial content, but it's not physically in front of you. I think that the revolution is in information. It has to be true for publications because it's certainly true for retail. I don't think that one's going to cancel the other out but it's just a new dimension. In the same way that you might physically have a desk, a bulletin board above your desk you keep as an inspiration board with all kinds of amazing mementos and photos and images that you've collected—now I do that on Tumblr. You know, I have the most amazing inspiration board that's both public and the one that I keep for myself. And it's a great bank to be able to draw from. I think the same thing about the online shopping experience.
GQ: Do you shop online?
Nick Wooster: Of course I do.
GQ: How often?
Nick Wooster: Well, first of all, I'm online everyday because it's part of the job. I'm seeing what's new on Park and Bond I'm seeing what sales we're curating at Gilt. Separately, I buy all my groceries, all of my health and beauty aids and anything else that I would have to carry in the street. I don't do that anymore.
GQ: Do tastemakers and editorial outlets dictate the direction of fashion? Or do the designers and brands?
Nick Wooster: I think one can't work without the other, each side needs the other. There are some people who feel that bloggers have been given too much prominence or that designers have sort of dictated the terms for far too long.
GQ: Who's right in Nick Wooster's eyes?
Nick Wooster: Well, here's the thing: Change is painful. Bloggers and stores and publications and brands and houses all need to sort of take a deep breath and relax because no one is going away. The brands aren't going away. The designers, bloggers, publications aren't going away.
GQ: Stores like Uniqlo and H&M have been killing it sales-wise. But you've typically worked for companies that specialize in very upscale, expensive clothing. It that frustrating at all?
Nick Wooster: No. To me it's amazing. There's so much great stuff at every price. But the problem is that so many people spend so much money unnecessarily because they're insecure about things. They feel that if they spend thousands of dollars on something they're somehow going to be better dressed. When the reality is, you don't have to spend billions of dollars on things in order to be well-dressed. It has to come from inside. I know that I spend money for reasons of insecurity, whatever it might be. But I also happen to love things that are expensive, and buy them simply because I love them. I think that good, great things can come at every price. I'm wearing a suit by J.Crew and I love it because of what it represents. It represents the opportunity for a wider audience to experience something with beautiful fabric, etc. The taste is right, the cut is great and if it meant the difference between a 24-year-old guy being able to look well put-together it's great. I wear Uniqlo, love Uniqlo. Those cashmere sweaters at $99 are great. When I meet young guys that I help out and buy them a first suit for an interview, that's where I take them. I know they can get a great flannel suit and it doesn't cost them $3,000. I think that's part of my obligation.
GQ: So, you're from a little town in Kansas.
Nick Wooster: Yep, Salina, Kansas
GQ: I would have never guessed that. What are some of the other misconceptions that you think people have of you?
Nick Wooster: Well, I went through a Billy Idol phase. I had white hair when Peter Rizzo hired me at Barneys.
GQ: Did you have the moustache then or no?
Nick Wooster: No, no, no. Hair-wise, I wanted to look like Anderson Cooper. Before I moved back to New York, a barber suggested it. If it's a signature or a trademark, okay. Last summer I did shave it off and I felt completely naked.
GQ: What's one non-fashion-related thing that you're good at?
Nick Wooster: Smoking.
I still have my feet on the ground, I just wear better shoes - Oprah Winfrey