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Q&A: Fred Segal’s Garen Hartunian on the Secret to Pulling Off Sneakers with a Suit

Fresh off the heels of opening the iconic retailer’s new Sunset Boulevard flagship, Hartunian dishes on menswear’s new dress code.

Fred Segal storefront on Sunset

Fred Segal has spent the last half-century defining the laid-back style that Los Angeles is known for. Now, the iconic West Coast retailer’s casual, wear-anywhere pieces and iconic red, white, and blue logo have a new home—a palatial 13,000-square-foot store on Sunset Boulevard that overlooks the sprawling city below. The new store is stocked with Fred Segal’s signature mix of men’s and women’s brands, with notable shop-in-shops from the likes of the CFDA, which will showcase a rotating assortment of pieces from need-to-know luxury brands, and Hartel, the store’s carefully curated mix of of-the-moment menswear.

To celebrate the landmark opening, we sat down with Garen Hartunian—head of Hartel and a Fred Segal alum for over 15 years—to discuss the new store, the Fred Segal man, and how you should be approaching menswear’s new dress code.

Who do you envision the Fred Segal man to be?

Our clientele is really widespread—we get everyone from teenagers to 60-, 70-year-old men, so there is not really one man I can pinpoint. We also see people from all over coming in. If you are visiting Los Angeles, Fred Segal is up there as one of the top things you want to visit, so I really want to have something for everyone. Because of that, we actually sell a lot of outerwear, which is why you see us stocking so many really cool jackets.

All I really try do for Hartel is to buy really great fabrics and really great fits because that’s what men really like. We want something that fits well and feels good to wear.

Fred Segal store on Sunset

Hartel, the store’s carefully curated mix of of-the-moment menswear  Photo: Courtesy Fred Segal

 Fred Segal is known for its California-casual aesthetic. How can men incorporate more laid-back pieces into their work wardrobes?

For me, it all starts off with a really good pair of jeans. I really love the ones that we stock from SMN Denim, which are all made in the U.S. or in Japan. We actually cannot keep them in the store—we sell so many pairs a day.

If you have a pair of jeans that fit well, you can style them with anything—a great pair of sneakers, a boot, whatever. If you put on a nice pair of jeans and then a button-down and a blazer, you’ve got a sharp outfit.

On that note, what are your thoughts on pairing sneakers with a suit?

It can be done really tastefully if you buy the right sneaker. I like styles from Common Projects; they have a really great variety of leathers and suedes. Golden Goose also has a really cool gold sneaker that complement suits really well.

Pulling off a suit and sneakers also goes back to tailoring. I suggest having the trousers taken up a little bit so that the sneaker can take center stage. Then, if you are feeling daring, you can throw a fun sock into the mix, or keep it simple with a pair of no-shows.

What are the most common mistakes you see men making when getting dressed?

First off, I would say men don’t get enough credit for fashion—and I think men’s fashion is at a really high level right now. But I would say that I often see men trying to overdo it. My whole philosophy is to keep it simple: If you are going to wear something a little bit edgier on top, then go cleaner on the bottom with well-cut jeans and a nice pair of boots. Or you can do the opposite if you are wearing bolder jeans or trousers. The key is keeping the proportions in balance.

I also see men making the mistake of not getting sizing of their clothing quite right. They often will pick things out that are too big because they want to be comfortable. Everyone’s body proportions are a little bit different—a jacket could fit in the shoulders but the body could be loose, so having a tailor you can rely on is key. I think they should also really trust themselves and listen to a good salesperson about what fits and what doesn’t. That way, they can relax knowing that they are in good hands and that the salesperson will put them in the right pieces.

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