⇾ How Jian DeLeon Shops
⇾ Jian DeLeon, Nordstrom’s Fashion and Editorial Director
Where does he shop,
how does he save and
what’s on his wishlist?
You know those guys, the cool ones who are always up on the next best thing? This column is about getting inside their head (and closet). We're sitting down with stylish guys, in and out of the fashion industry, and asking them to give away free game on how they got their style, where they shop and what they spend/save on. After all, everyone shops a little differently, don't they? It's part of our new newsletter, The Obtainer, so if you're not signed up yet, be sure to subscribe so you don't miss the next one.
I could not think of anyone better to kick this off than the men's fashion and editorial director at Nordstrom, Jian DeLeon. A Valet. alumnus, he has worked at every noteworthy fashion media company from GQ to Complex and Highsnobiety—which had one of my favorite fashion podcasts, The Dropcast (IYKYK). Jian has been one of the most insightful voices in fashion in the last decade, he's got killer style and an encyclopedic knowledge of brands and trends.
He's also one of the co-creators of the Instagram cult following #muleboyz and did a recent collaboration with 3Sixteen that flew off the shelves. We caught up with him to see where he's been shopping, what brands he's watching, and what he refuses to spend money on.
Describe your style
in five words or less.
If it's free, it's me!
$1,800 by Bode
What’s currently on your summer wishlist?
There's a purple linen suit from Bode that I'm waiting for my size in ... I was able to get the trousers, but I have someone at the Nordstrom men's store on the lookout for when the jacket arrives.
How did your earlier career lead to what you’re doing now at Nordstrom?
I've always liked shopping, but also diving into the why behind the buy. Whether it's learning about storied makers who've perfected (or innovated) a craft, brands with a strong point-of-view inspired by multiple subcultures, and designers with a unique vision that they want to share with the world, I suppose I've always been curious about what makes me—and like-minded people—gravitate towards the things we're inclined to spend money on.
That natural curiosity lent itself well to a career in lifestyle journalism and led to some great relationships. I think one of the big shifts between media and retail in the past few years is the two industries have learned a lot from each other, especially when it comes to the role storytelling plays in connecting to your audience in a real way. So, when the opportunity to join Nordstrom came about, it felt like a very natural progression—most of my career has revolved around showing people what to buy and why it's worth it, and that part really hasn't changed.
calf leather mule,
$240 by 3Sixteen
You’re also the muleboyz co-founder ... how did that collab with 3Sixteen come about?
Muleboyz started as a way for Noah Thomas and me to promote a podcast we used to have, and it evolved into a community of its own. Andrew Chen from 3sixteen was one of the first people I met when I moved to New York more than a decade ago, so working with him on a shoot for their new mules was an easy yes.
Three brands you’re watching right now.
Do you shop more online or in person?
It's a mix of both. When I'm traveling, almost always in-person. But when I'm at home, I'll certainly go into stores a lot, but I'll utilize services like store pick-up or have something sent to my house, especially if it's an item I'll need to take to my tailor.
N2 aloha shirt,
$124.90 by Dexter
What city has the best shopping?
Still Tokyo, even though I haven't been since the pandemic. I can't wait to go back. Whenever I'm traveling, I always shop labels from that respective country. So, in Europe, I buy luxury brands and labels like Lemaire, Santa Maria Novella, Dries Van Noten, De Bonne Facture, Paraboot and Our Legacy. In Japan, it's a ton of sacai, UNDERCOVER, Kapital, nanamica, Montbell and Needles. It's considerably less expensive than shopping them in the U.S. And (pro tip!), you still get a tax discount if you meet the minimum.
I always like a good impulse buy when I'm traveling too. When I was in Florence, I was introduced to a few awesome vintage stores, and writer David Coggins told me about this independent little shop called Dexter. They have a great in-house line inspired by the owner's love for vintage gear, and I bought one of his camp-collar linen shirts with an all-over print of hotel postcards.
Spring Drive SBGA407
$5,800 by Grand Seiko
I wear two watches, actually. An Apple Watch on my right hand and either my Rolex 15200 Oyster Perpetual or my Grand Seiko SBGA407 Blue Snowflake on my left. The Apple Watch is basically a fitness tracker and PDA at this point, but I've always wanted these two timepieces, and I don't really wear any other accessories. I couldn't do an Oura ring and frankly, I never get tired of looking at either of these faces. A great watch is sort of the original “Focus Mode” for the wrist—it does its job but also lets you take a moment to think about how much is going on underneath to make it happen.
What is something you like to save money on or refuse to spend a lot for?
Taxis and car services. Even if I'm on a work trip, I'll usually opt for public transportation, a bike or a scooter. I guess you could say it's more environmentally conscious, but I've also found it much more efficient than sitting in traffic.
Do you ever buy things in multiples?
Nike Dri-Fit socks. I switch them out every few months. And whenever I'm in Japan, I stock up on 7-11 brand white tees. They're the best.
Which do you experience more: buyer’s remorse or regret for not buying something?
Probably the latter. I don't necessarily have buyer's remorse as much as I know when it's time to let something go. Every few months, I'll purge stuff from my closet, and what makes the cut are things that I still wear often.
What was the last item you bought and really loved?
I just paid to have a notecard framed. Virgil Abloh sent it to me and I love it. It says, “There's nothing more precious than time,” and that's definitely something I want to keep.
Do you have a shopping hack you can let everyone know about?
Use your wishlist! Things go on sale at different times, and sometimes when that notification hits, it means something you've been eyeing just got a lot more affordable.