⇾ How Erik Allen Ford Shops
⇾ Erik Allen Ford, Co-Founder
& CEO of Buck Mason
Why every man needs the right boots, giving luggage as a gift and the secret to scoring a mid-century style home
Regular readers are likely familiar with Buck Mason, but allow the brand to reintroduce themselves. The label built on rugged tees and denim hasn't lost its style compass; however, the maturation of the brand is happening in real-time—and each collection gets stronger season after season. They've shed their appearance on Shark Tank in the best way possible, aiming instead to grow gradually. To say it's worked out just well for them would be an understatement. A few days ago, the brand opened its largest shop in New York's Flatiron district, complete with a gleaming vintage Porsche in the middle of the sales floor. Not a bad way to mark your 30th location.
Guiding the brand is Erik Allen Ford, the co-founder and CEO, who is a humble vintage enthusiast that obsesses over the details of making clothes feel emotional. “Our collection is 100% inspired by vintage,” and points out that you can shop their vintage collection on the site (and in select stores). It's like getting an open invitation to see what influenced the brand's designers for the upcoming season. If their aim is to make us feel something through the clothes, Buck Mason is definitely executing at a high level. From their made-in-USA jeans and soft-suiting to their insane collaboration with Eddie Bauer, the brand is firing on all cylinders. Ford cares about how a garment makes people feel, “Sourcing the most emotive vintage allows us to build an emotional product today.”
Besides growing the seasonal collection, he says another focus has been doubling down on improving their T-shirts. How do you do that? You purchase a well-established Pennsylvania knitting mill to see the entire manufacturing process from grown to sewn. The move not only saved jobs and sartorial know-how, but also upped the quality of Buck Mason's products. “We've found that localizing manufacturing is a pretty soulful way to make garments,” he says. “It's all about people and relationships.”
Erik's personal style mimics a lot of what you see in the shops. Everything is perfectly patinaed—from the boots to the jeans—and you can always find him in a crisp, white oxford shirt. We caught up with him to see what he's into in the moment and if he could give some advice on shopping for the holidays.
If the white T-shirt is the number one essential item for the American wardrobe, what’s second?
selvedge cowboy jean,
$228 by Buck Mason
A navy suit comes to mind. Of course, five-pocket jeans. I've fallen in love with our unsanforized Cowboy Fit made from a nice Kaihara denim woven on traditional shuttle looms in Japan. It's reminiscent of Levi's shrink-to-fit in the 1940s and '50s.
Buck Mason offers made-in-USA T-shirts, and now denim. Is the goal to have the entire company manufactured in America one day?
No. We want to work with the best makers in the world and engineer the product in a way that offers value to our guests. We cherish our international relationships. Certain products we design want to be artisanal, like our hand-knit ties—they need to be produced in Italy. With other things like T-shirts, we want to be close to the needle. That's why we bought a factory and knitting mill in Monhton, PA.
How would you describe your style in five words or less?
I try to wear what makes me feel good.
$1,195 by Luchesse
Three favorite brands, currently?
What’s an underrated item that every man should have in his closet right now?
The right pair of cowboy boots.
What’s something you’re looking to buy yourself at the moment?
A western tuxedo. Maybe we need to make one?
And as we go into the holidays, what’s a failsafe gift that never disappoints?
A great travel bag. People don't buy them for themselves. I really like Billykirk's.
No. 480 bag,Billykirk$875 by
What’s one of the best gifts you’ve ever received?
My wife found an old Rolex Datejust from the '60s that I'd casually mentioned. When I opened that box, it knocked my socks off.
expedition auto watch,
$995 by Hamilton
What city has the best shopping?
I like shopping in Paris and Antwerp for contemporary clothing. But lately, my best hauls have been from places like Roundtop, Texas. I've come to appreciate that you can shop European mid-century furniture and American-Western and German vintage cars.
Vintage watches, and they're all so similar! Maybe watches in general? Though I've never bought a new watch, I want to ... and I've been eying this Hamilton.
What is something you refuse to spend a lot on?
T-shirts. I can't justify spending a lot on a white tee that I know I'm going to stain eventually.
needle dress shirt,
$138 by Buck Mason
Something you buy in multiples?
Our white plain weave poplin shirts. I can never have enough of those on hand.
Which do you experience more: buyer’s remorse or regret for not buying something?
If you skip it, you skip it and if you get it, you get it. I do miss vintage pieces that eventually wear out.
What’s one shopping hack that you can let everyone know about?
I only know one, and it's for apartments. I used to only look at the apartments that did not have photos, but I would keyword search terms like “oak floors” or “mid-century”. Nobody else would visit those apartments, so I never had competition. Also, bring fresh baked cookies for the landlord.