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Bruce Pask’s name is synonymous with menswear, and I don’t think there is a person in the industry who couldn’t sketch his signature smirk from memory on a bar napkin. Bruce has worked in fashion for 30-plus years, though he carries with him with none of the pomp or pretension you might expect from someone with a career as storied as his. I’ve taken many street style photos of Pask over the years and though I’ve never really known him, he’s always greeted me with kindness over the course of my own menswear tenure. These days he is the men’s fashion director of Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, lending his immense expertise to two iconic businesses. When he isn’t in Manhattan or abroad dictating trends and customer desires, he spends his downtime in a beautifully updated and well-loved cottage in the charming town of Bellport, NY, where we photographed this piece together.
Below, Bruce and I discuss the various positions he held across the fashion industry, working closely with Annie Leibovitz, how he handles the dense histories of Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman and updates them to fit the modern man, his B. Shop and its wares, traveling to Copenhagen for fashion week, and plenty more.
Can you walk me through your career, from your foundations all the way to what you do currently?
I worked various retail jobs growing up and while in school, and started my career in journalism and magazine fashion editorial shortly out of college as a fashion assistant at GQ magazine where I worked for about ten years, ultimately serving as associate fashion director. I left to pursue freelance styling and costume design, wanting to see and work with fashion in a different way, with another point of view. I was introduced to photographer Annie Leibovitz and worked with her on most of her editorials and covers for Vanity Fair and commercial projects like styling and costuming campaigns for The Sopranos and American Express for about three years. I then rejoined Conde Nast as the fashion director for the launch of Cargo, a men’s shopping magazine. We had a great but brief run after which I joined T Magazine and The New York Times to work under Stefano Tonchi as men’s fashion director.
I have specialized in menswear for most of my career and found the opportunity to take that expertise and shift from the context from journalism to retail when I was hired as the men’s fashion director for Bergdorf Goodman and subsequently Neiman Marcus, where I have now worked for about eight years. I love the retail world and being able to utilize my expertise in a very different environment, bringing an editorial point of view to my work in a multi-brand luxury retailer, seeing the stores and online as venues for both content and curation.
Bergdorf Goodman was founded in 1899 and Neiman Marcus in 1907. I’m curious what the role of Fashion Director entails for you, and if you take the shops’ histories into account when updating them with garments made for the modern era?
I am driven by curiosity and am always on the hunt for new and developing brands that I feel will resonate with and excite our customers. A big focus for me is the curation and brand assortments in the stores, as well as working with all of the merchant teams on their respective buys—helping to guide them according to developing key items and trends, the shifting behaviors and interests reflected in our customers’ desires, and further clarifying our brand point of view and fashion leadership across the company. Both Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman are distinct brands with identities and histories that inform store presentation, brands, and customers, and we are seeing more and more customer intersection and alignment within the Neiman Marcus Group as a whole. With Bergdorf Goodman in New York City and Neiman Marcus stores across the country, we curate distinct points of view, environments, and merchandise assortments that best reflect the local customer and their lifestyles and interests.
What is B. Shop, and what makes it special in the context of men’s retail? What are some of your favorite pieces this season in the shop?
The B. Shop is a multi-brand, mixed-merchandise shop concept that I came up with to meet a demand that I saw for a style-driven, wardrobe-focused specialty menswear presentation that focuses on elevated and interesting casual work- and weekend-wear. I travel quite a bit and found many brands specializing in an item or genre, as well as some smaller designer brands that I felt could be given meaning and importance when presented together, merchandised sort of as one would arrange a closet. The arrangement helps guide customers through creating their own looks and helps them find new favorite pieces. We’re in our third year in the store and continue to have a strong presence online. I engage in a lot of dialogue with customers and followers on Instagram, so the online shop is a great way to be able to serve customers all over. I did a program of softly tie-dyed linen shirts, shorts, and chore jackets in shades of blue from Altea, a great Italian brand. I also just did a collaboration with Herschel Supply Co. on a line of six canvas and leather travel pieces that I really like a lot. We always get some great artisanal pieces from Bode and a brand called Post-Imperial that’s made in Nigeria that are colorful, graphic, and really fun for the spring.
What do you look for in sourcing a new brand for a store? What do you look for in purchasing a new item of clothing for yourself?
I scour the market constantly for things that I find interesting, exciting, and refreshing and always with an eye on our customers and their points of view, needs, and wants. I have been in the menswear business for quite a long time, so I trust my instincts and intuition when I see a brand or designer that sparks my interest. We are in such an expansively creative time in menswear, with so many great collections to choose from. For myself, I totally subscribe to the idea of having a uniform, a signature style if you will. I have core pieces—certainly the chore jacket in all fabrics is in heavy rotation—that I mix and match regularly while also injecting new pieces regularly to keep things interesting. When seeing so much great menswear throughout our stores it is very easy to embrace new pieces to keep things exciting and refreshing.
My style has definitely evolved over time. I absolutely have a uniform that is sort of based on a balance of dressed-up and casual pieces. I almost always wear some sort of jacket, a button-front shirt, and wider legged khakis or denim. I like pieces that add a little personality to my rather standard combinations; a shirt that’s a bit oversized, a jacket with a detail or subtle design.
What are some things you can’t live without? What are some wardrobe essentials every man should have in his closet?
I have a deep love for Italian food so am always trying to manage my pasta intake. I love a chore jacket so don’t really feel complete without one on most days. As far as wardrobe essentials, I am all for self-determination, for wearing whatever makes one feel best, most comfortable—whatever one’s desire is.
You’re just about to travel for market and fashion weeks abroad. Do you have a favorite place to travel to?
I love Copenhagen and am very excited to return in August. It’s an absolutely beautiful city on the water with amazing restaurants, kind and generous people, and everyone bikes everywhere. It’s always a wonderful experience and I’ll be attending their fashion and market weeks. At Neiman Marcus, we continuously look to identify and cultivate relationships with emerging designers. We always look forward to experiencing the creativity, curating the best of what we see and introducing new brands to our customers.
Are there trends you’re seeing that show a shift from pre-pandemic to where we are now? In the wake of everything from recession, to war, to office requirements, what are your predictions for where men’s fashion is heading?
There has truly been a shift with the return to in-store shopping, with a focus on luxury and dressing up, including a spotlight on tailored evening-wear. At Neiman Marcus, we continue to see strength in men’s, particularly in our ready-to-wear assortment and shoes, which can be attributed to the return to in person celebrations, events, and travel. For these occasions, customers have a desire to express their individual style with new styles. I certainly see this desire to dress up to stick around. Even as work and office attire continue to relax, we believe there is a growing desire to wear tailoring and suit separates simply because it feels good.
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