As the popular aphorism goes, “The clothes make the man.” There’s something deep down inside a person that inherently decides on an outward appearance that is a direct reflection of inner turmoil, upbringing and value system. The result is an accoutrement of character – with stitches, buttons and cuffs serving as a sartorial road map as to how a person views the world.
We’re undoubtedly in a golden age of television – a medium in which actors and writers used to take a distinct backseat to their film counterparts. Now, thanks to choice favorites like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, viewers are treated to a brooding hodgepodge of characters whose week to week trials and tribulations transcend the classic three-act structure. Sure, the clothes don’t actually make the man, but they do make the characters. From immaculate suits worn by Don Draper in the ’60s to the dark outerwear favored by Jon Snow during his time spent beyond the Wall, their character traits and costumes are easily translatable to current labels and trends. Fashion has always been reciprocal – even for those that inhibit a fictional world.
Illustrations by Sam Rodriguez for Highsnobiety
Don Draper in Band of Outsiders
When Scott Sternberg launched Band of Outsiders in 2004, his designs recontextualized vintage-inspired looks with hand-sewn seams and shrunken proportions. Over the years Don Draper has been defined by rakish Prince of Wales plaid, sports coat extravaganzas and suits that Mad Men costume designer Jane Bryant describe as “his armor.” The Mad Men “look” became so popular that a sanctioned collection from Bryant in cooperation with Banana Republic popped up in 2o11 with chunky-meets-streamlined knit sweaters, tailored suits and fitted trousers. As anyone who has watched Mad Men can attest to, Draper needs the ability to seamlessly segue from sophisticated and debonair to weekend hellcat, and dressed in Band of Outsiders, the transition is met with as little fussiness as a Dick Whitman to Don Draper metamorphosis.
Jax Teller in NEIGHBORHOOD
Since being created in 2003 by Shinsuke Takizawa, NEIGHBORHOOD has always been inspired by motorcycle culture. Featuring effortlessly cool riders jackets – including the ever popular Strabler and the F.M. / E-Jkt – leather and fabrics and macabre imagery have always screamed “road rash” more than “haute couture.” As the President of SAMCRO, Jax Teller has proved that there’s a very fine line between ridding oneself of a monster and letting that personal conquest for revenge completely obscure the road ahead. With the reaper patch firmly stitched to the back of any number of outerwear pieces from NEIGHBORHOOD, Teller could add a little Tokyo flare to Charming, California.
Jesse Pinkman in Carhartt WIP
Founded in 1994, Work In Progress initiated a distribution network for Carhartt across Europe, introducing a selection of classic products from the original workwear range into a new market. Blurring the lines between utilitarian wear meant for a day of hard labor with refitted cuts for the demands of an active life in the urban environment – while still remaining true to Carhartt´s core values of quality, durability and comfort – it’s easy to understand why the original brand and the subsidiary have been adopted by hip-hop culture enthusiasts. Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman has undergone as drastic a transformation as Walter White – reversing course from nobody to somebody – reflecting a certain understanding of an “end game’ that Mr. Heisenberg never will. Thus, we’ve seen Aaron Paul’s costumes reflect a shift from loud and intrusive to more subdued.
Jon Snow in Rick Owens
Since the label’s inception in 1994, Rick Owens has offered up a dark mixture of leather goods and military-inspired pieces of footwear – specifically realized on his DRKSHDW collection. In the years since, his “stylish grunge’ aesthetic is instantly recognizable for pieces with unique, asymmetric zipped fastenings. As a member of The Night’s Watch – a military order dedicated to holding the Wall, the immense fortification on the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms, defending the realms of men from what lies beyond – Jon Snow relies on certain sartorial choices that fall in line with his profession and choice.
Richard Harrow in RRL
Double RL – a name drawn from Ralph Lauren’s ranch in Ridgway, Colorado – made its North American debut in May of 1993 and brought with it a slew of vintage, time-worn leather jackets, handwoven heirloom quality sweaters, hand-tooled leather belts, and rough hewn denim inspired by the cowboy heritage of the American West and 1940s American military uniforms. As played masterfully by Jack Huston, Atlantic City’s Richard Harrow utilizes a subdued palette on his three-piece suit and hat combinations – hiding in plain sight – unable to completely mask his haunted past despite his stylish duds.
Alec Banks is a Los Angeles-based writer who has written for Esquire, Details, Maxim and Playboy in the past. Follow him on Twitter @smart_alec_
Sam Rodriguez is artist who works in various mediums including design, walls, paintings and drawings. Find more of his work at shortyfatz.com.