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It’s almost strange to see Michael Strahan in anything but a suit (or maybe a football uniform). I mean, not really strange—all you have to do to witness such an event is pop over to his Instagram—but after seeing him on Good Morning America for the past seven years, the image of him in a trim two-button is embedded into the collective consciousness. But even one of the few folks still stepping into tailored clothing on the regular wants to hang it in the closet when it’s time to hang out.
“I'm in suits every day,” he says. “And then when I'm not in suits, I want to be comfortable. But I understand that in me being comfortable, I still have to do calls, and I still have other meetings and other things that I want to do, or have to do.” In other words, the work doesn’t stop when the jacket and trousers come off. Hence the MSX collection of casual gear in high-tech fabrics that has a bit more professional polish than a lot of the athleisure on the market, which just debuted at Men’s Warehouse today. Strahan calls the concept “workleisure,” the idea being to create a collection of clothes you could wear for a sneaky afternoon workout that also wouldn’t look out of place if you got called into an impromptu Zoom with your boss before you got a chance to break a sweat.
I caught up with the former football star and current TV personality to talk about how it all came together—and see if a man who knows his way around everything from performance polos to those ever-present suits thinks we’ll ditch our pandemic addiction to sweats when the world starts opening up again.
There’s already Collection by Michael Strahan. So, what is it that's different about this line? What made you want to do something separate, under a different name, and how did you want to differentiate it from what already exists out there in the marketplace?
We have Collection, which is our suit line. We also have our premium denim line. But we wanted to do MSX because MSX is a little bit more of what we're calling “workleisure.” To take yourself from the workplace, to the gym, to everyday errands, to hanging out with your family. Just the ability to be able to do everything without having to put on 20 different outfits. I think that's what MSX brings to the table; that ability to have your usable MSX outfit on, throw a jacket over it, and you just feel you're set up for that and Zoom call, or that work call. And I think that's what differentiates it from what we've had there before and what other people have. You do have your collection, you have the denim, but you also have MSX, which is more of the casual side that allows you to go throughout your day without feeling as if you're ever inappropriately dressed, no matter what your situation is.
So how is workleisure different from athleisure?
Well, everybody's going to say “athleisure,” and what an incredible category that is. But the world has changed. So, I think what has changed in the world has made us change in fashion, as well. And so, athleisure, I feel, was strictly more on the athletics side, where you are not going to get on a Zoom call, you're not going to do anything that's, more than likely work-related. Whereas with workleisure, you can do things that are work-related. Because the clothing is styled for you to look appropriate in those situations.
So athleisure is: If you ran into your boss on the street while you were sneaking in a workout, you might look a little obvious. And workleisure is: If you ran into your boss on the street while you're sneaking in a workout, you might be able to get away with it.
Yeah. You can get away with it. We do tees. With the same tee that you can wear to the gym, you can put a Collection suit jacket over it. And you can get away with that work Zoom, that work call. But you take it off and you can go to the gym, and it's going to look like you're appropriate in there. You to run into your boss and you have on one of our high-end polo shirts, and your boss may think you're going to get some coffee, but he doesn't know you were going to play ball. You're able to blend in to every situation. Every and any situation; that's probably the best way to put it.
What was the design and collaboration process like for you?
Pretty easy. I mean, everybody works well together. And I love working with their design team because they have great ideas, and we brought our ideas to the table and everybody... nobody had a bad idea. I think we incorporated what everybody felt worked, and is comfortable, and worked for the customer. But at the same time, for me personally, I don't do it unless it works for me. So, I touch every fabric, and look at every color. I look at the placement of the zipper, what kind of zipper, what's the detail on the zipper. You name it.
It's very important for me to be involved in the design aspect of it, because my name is on it. And I don't want to be a brand that has my name on it, but it's a celebrity brand, and I never touched it. It's really someone else's work. I feel very strange about that. And I know that this brand may have my name on it, but I want it to also be able to stand free and clear of my name, as far as quality, and the reason that people come back to, continuously, buy it. Because your name may get you one sale, but it won't get you continuous sales. And I think that's where it comes to my collaboration and with the design team at Tailored Brand, so that we come up with the perfect fabric, the perfect fit, and the perfect colors and all the materials, and the quality that we need to make our customers happy.
You mentioned that you wanted these clothes to represent the current reality of where we are, and how we're dressing. You have to wear suits all the time for work. But when you're not on camera, do you think that the MSX clothing is closer to how you dress regularly?
It's all I wear, to be honest with you. It's all I wear. And I'm serious, I'm serious. It is literally all I wear, to the point of where one of my buddies, Charles, says, "Oh, we're going to dinner. But what are you going to wear?" I'm like, "Well, what else am I supposed to wear? It's what I wear." So, I wear it every day. I wear the jeans, I wear the denim all the time. Usually, I will think out what my day may be. And I craft my outfit from what my day may be. So, I'll say, Okay, this is going to be a day I have to run here, and there, and there. I can get away with denim, a polo, or a T-shirt and a nice jacket or something. I space it out. Then there's days I think, Oh, I can come home right after work. But when I come home after work, if I don't work out immediately. I'm not going to work out at all. So, I'll dress appropriately so that when I walk in the door, I do not have to change that outfit. I can go straight to the gym and work out downstairs. But I still look good walking through the door at GMA. So, it's literally all I wear. So, I don't know anything else to tell you. I mean, it's a good and a bad thing.
You're living the lifestyle that you're telling the consumer about.
Yeah, I literally live my brand. But it's great stuff, and it is what I would wear. So, when I see someone on the street wearing something—if it's athleisure, or MSX, or workleisure, or tailored and Collection suits—people love to come up and show you. And I'm very prideful about that, because I feel like I'm not deceiving the customer and saying, "Oh, that looks great on you." And then back of my head, I'm thinking, "That's not what I'm wearing. I'm wearing another brand." No, I am wearing what they're wearing. And I take that very personally. I feel very good about that. I take a lot of pride in that.
Do you think, once everyone's not working from home all the time, that guys are going to start dressing up more? And how do you think MSX works in world where, that potentially happens?
I think it's a combination. I think that men will dress up more, but I think we've all been sitting around and, basically, don't pan the Zoom camera below the waist, because you don't know what the heck somebody's wearing. So, I think guys are going to be into the sweat suits, sweat pants. That's fine, we get it. It's been fun for a while, but you do want to shower and put yourself together at times. I think that's going to spill over. We thought a lot about that with the line. Guys will still want to be casual, but they still would want to look better in their casualness than just a regular pair of throw-on sweatpants. So, we tailor our sweatpants; they're more fitted now to be more fashionable once you go back out and into the world. And the suits, they have a lot of stretch in those. So, you could be formal, but you can still be comfortable. So, I believe that it's going to be a combination. Guys are going to dress up more, but guys still want to be comfortable when they do. And that's how MSX falls into line with what the future, I feel, will be when we get back out into the streets, once everyone starts getting their vaccinations.
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