Wall Street Journal Beyond High Fashion – Embracing Upper Middle Class Style, and Its Lucrative Market

During the mid-2000s, J.Crew set the sartorial tone for America, and at the helm of this trend was Todd Snyder.

For five influential years, as J.Crew’s executive vice president of menswear, Snyder steered the nation towards a slim-suit craze with the development of the label’s iconic Ludlow suit. He popularized classic ensembles featuring polished dress shoes, dark-wash jeans, and blue blazers, and inundated the market with a plethora of chinos.

In 2009, Snyder departed from J.Crew, armed with a pivotal realization: men desire attire that is both work-appropriate and indulgent. “I felt that there was a luxury version” of what J.Crew was offering, stated the 56-year-old Snyder in a recent interview at his Manhattan office.

His intuition proved correct. Since its inception in 2011, Todd Snyder, the brand, has emerged as a juggernaut in menswear, boasting over $100 million in sales last year, a staggering increase from $4 million in 2015. With 15 physical stores strategically located in urban centers and affluent hubs like Bal Harbour, Florida, and Atlanta’s Buckhead Village, Snyder’s label has captured the attention of fashion enthusiasts and investors alike. CEO of American Eagle, Jay Schottenstein, predicts Todd Snyder could evolve into a half-a-billion-dollar enterprise in the near future.

Snyder’s designs exude a sense of timeless elegance, subtly infused with a hint of whimsy. From $598 linen suit jackets evoking a “Talented Mr. Ripley” aesthetic to $168 floral camp shirts igniting “White Lotus” fantasies, Snyder’s median customer base hovers around age 38.

“I don’t want to stand out too much,” remarks 36-year-old Kenny Tsai, a Los Angeles-based television professional who has become a loyal patron of Todd Snyder. Tsai, who donned a gray tweed suit by the brand at the Emmys, appreciates Snyder’s ability to blend sophistication with subtle flair, evident in his streamlined denim chore coat, a favorite among colleagues.

Snyder’s influence continues to expand. In November, he assumed the role of creative director for Black Label, a premium collection at heritage brand Woolrich. Additionally, his runway presentation at the Pitti Uomo trade show in Florence hints at the brand’s forthcoming European expansion.

The allure of accessibility coupled with aspiration underpins Snyder’s triumph. “There’s not a lot of brands out there that make it easy for guys to dress the best,” affirms Snyder, describing his mission as distilling trends and presenting them in a digestible manner.

Occupying a niche within the apparel market, Snyder’s brand neither epitomizes exorbitant luxury nor succumbs to the fast-fashion frenzy. Instead, it caters to discerning consumers—white-collar professionals who aspire to surpass the ordinary without venturing into ostentation.

Todd Snyder represents an upper-middle-class alternative to J.Crew, embodying a boutique aesthetic that is becoming increasingly scarce in the American fashion landscape. While former giants like J.Crew and Brooks Brothers have faced bankruptcy, Snyder’s brand continues to flourish, resonating with individuals like Jake Ruddle, a 34-year-old teacher from Charleston, West Virginia, who appreciates the longevity and refinement of Snyder’s garments.

Hailing from Huxley, Iowa, Snyder’s journey from selling suits at a local menswear store to establishing a thriving fashion empire underscores his innate understanding of the American consumer’s desires.

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