Two days before his Spring 2017 runway show, designer Todd Snyder sat down with me to reflect on how his Americana-influenced brand has grown since it launched in 2011. He was most excited about his new collaboration with Timex, called the Archive Collection, and was joined by Timex Global Design Director Giorgio Galli. Though Snyder’s team worked frantically on racks of clothing, focused on the upcoming show, Snyder was a portrait of composure, happy to talk shop about his latest projects. Music from Tame Impala played on a nearby speaker, and Snyder shared his thoughts on American design, his new watch and his first North American store, opening in a few months in New York.

Q: How did your collaboration with Timex come about?
A: My father and grandfather wore Timex, so Timex, for me, was always an American icon. I started working with Timex when I was at J.Crew, then, about a year ago, I met someone in Japan, and we rekindled the relationship.

I had an archive of old vintage watches that were Timex, and this one in particular really jumped out at me, because of the graphicness of the face. It was a great item we could collaborate on, and they hadn’t relaunched it since the 1970s.

Q: What spoke to you about this watch style?
A: Well, the original design was a little smaller, but it had the same face. I feel like there’s a whole movement towards the ’90s and graphic expression, and to me, this really symbolized that well. There’s so many great things that Timex has done over their 160 years, but this one really jumped out. What I liked about it was how it was so bold and graphic. So we kept the face the same and just enlarged it, and then we added this cool military strap to it, just to modernize it a bit.

I love Timex’s heritage. They, in my opinion, invented watches for the US. They’ve done everything from supplying the military to building a watch business from nothing, starting in Connecticut.

I love Timex’s heritage. They, in my opinion, invented watches for the US. They’ve done everything from supplying the military to building a watch business from nothing, starting in Connecticut.

Obviously, I’m an American designer and I really covet things that are truly original. But, I also think that American style is really an eclectic mix of different things, whether it is vintage or military-inspired or modern. America just has a lot of things going on and it’s a mix of those things, it’s blending those things so that they make harmony. I always use juxtaposition as what, to me, represents America. It’s about taking things that aren’t necessarily meant to be together, and putting them together in a way that makes sense. It’s not easy to do that.

I felt that this watch really spoke to the collection, because it not only had that modern sensibility, but it also really echoed the things I’m doing in my collection. I want things to be new and vibrant, but still have a heritage element.

Todd Snyder Timex Gear Patrol Ambiance

Q: So the melting pot metaphor of America pervades many disciplines?
A: That’s what I love about design in general, and art and music. Food is a good expression of that as well, because you get a lot of different influences, and I think that’s what makes things interesting. All the ingredients are known, it’s how you put them together that makes them new. And that’s really, to me, what American design is. It’s not one way of designing, it’s how you take all the different influences and put them together to make this new thing. I’m not trying to be Ralph Lauren, I’m not trying to be traditional menswear; I’m trying to be clean, new, modern, but still have an appreciation of where I came from, and that heritage. I feel like this watch epitomizes who I am.

Q: Your brand has quite the following in Japan.
A: They embraced my brand straight away when we launched in 2011. They really had an appreciation for Americana, and I was the only menswear designer really embracing the Japanese, so they just welcomed me with open arms. Quickly, I was able to get a partner over there and open four stores. It’s been a dream come true.

We have stores in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka and Kyoto, and it doesn’t matter where we are, they just love it because my stores aren’t just about me. It’s about the brands that I curate for the store, whether it’s Timex, or Mackintosh, or Globetrotter suitcases, or Alden shoes. People like the curation because they don’t have to search 15 different stores to get their own style.

Q: Tell me about your first North American store.
A: The new store opens in October and it’s going to be on 26th and Madison, right on Madison Park. It’s not just going to be a retail store, it’s going to be a curation of all these great things: we’ll have everything from apparel to denim to suiting. We’re going to have a tailor shop, a barbershop and a bar. It’s going to be a one-stop shop for a guy.

Buy the Timex x Todd Snyder Mod Watch for $138 at toddsnyder.com

John Zientek

John Zientek is Gear Patrol's style editor and in-house guitar authority. He grew up on the West Coast.

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