Richard Haines, aka Designer Man, is a talented peacock based in New York City who designs custom menswear for private clients. He’s worked with some of the best in the fashion business—Calvin Klein, Bill Blass, Perry Ellis and Sean Combs. He originally moved to New York to be a fashion illustrator and has come “full circle” to sketch for his clever blog, What I Saw Today. Each nuanced and subtly detailed sketch captures the essence of what caught his creative eye, and in turn inspires the blog viewer. Mr. Haines uses his knowledge of fabric, shape, and color combined with his love of illustration to document what he finds interesting and inspirational—whether it’s a guy he sees wearing a bow tie in Union Square or the latest cover of Dazed & Confused Magazine. Mr. Peacock also adores his series of interviews with "interesting guys without pants." All illustrations by Richard Haines.
Mr. Peacock: How would you describe your style?
Richard Haines: I'd call it refined American. I'm happy to say I've finally gotten it down to a uniform. Uniqlo 000 jeans, a navy or black v-neck sweater or cardigan, and a heather t-shirt, or white button down if I'm 'dressing up'—and always a pair of killer shoes to finish it off!
MP: How old were you when you realized you were a peacock?
RH: I distinctly remember being in kindergarten and seeing a kid who had a pair of shoes that I really loved. I think they were saddle shoes. I can still recall that feeling, as bizarre as that sounds.
MP: Who or what has influenced your style?
RH: My father was a huge influence. He was an officer in the navy and went to work in a uniform every day. Other fathers were off to work in their grey suits and white shirts, and my father was in a deep navy blue double breasted 'great coat' with epaulettes and the works...I still remember his summer uniforms—crisp white cotton with brass buttons. This stuff made a huge impression on a budding designer/illustrator.
MP: Who is your style icon?
RH: For men? Thats' tough...I would say the bands that came out of London in the early 60's. That narrow silhouette, pointed shoes, English shirts...I can never get enough of that. There's a picture of Mick Jagger taken by David Bailey and he's wearing a window pane shirt with a tab collar. I'd kill for that shirt.
MP: What do you generally wear when you're working?
RH: I'm in a uniform no matter what I do. I don't change the look—can't be bothered at this point of my life. After spending so much time of my life designing and being around clothes, it's a relief to have it down to a science—a clean palette.
MP: What's your favorite item in your wardrobe?
RH: I have a couple of 'safari-ish' jackets that I had made when I was consulting for a men's company in the Middle East. I've sketched myself in them—that's how much I love them. I also had a vintage Rolex Oyster that fell off at the beach and vanished, but it's still too painful to talk about!
MP: Do you remember your favorite wardrobe item as a child?
RH: It was always really changing. As I grew, it evolved. My favorite things were stuffed animals, then toys, then when I started drawing I lost interest in most other stuff.
MP: Do you have a particular item of clothing you're obsessed with now?
RH: I take really good care of my shoes, so I have some amazing pairs. Stuff from Weston, Church, old Prada. It's all about a wooden shoe tree!
MP: Do you wear vintage clothes or only "new" clothes?
RH: I prefer new clothes. I love vintage, love seeing people wearing it, and love using it as a design reference. But I'm not into wearing it. The cut never feels right. I did buy a tweed suit in London once and I wear the jacket. It's from the 30's or 40's and the tweed is so thick, and the silk lining feels like a cloud.
MP: Do you wear any jewelry? If so, what?
RH: Just a Tag Heuer watch that I love. And when I worked with Puff Daddy last year everyone there had some kind of bead bracelet so I do that—kind of a 'buddhist' look.
MP: Tote bag or satchel?
RH: Tote! I need easy access! And it's not like I'm an attorney (although sometimes I wish I was) and carry a lot of papers. I carry some copy paper, a couple of pens and pencils when I want to sketch someone or something.
MP: Facial hair or clean shaven?
RH: I love facial hair on other guys—it's great on 24 year olds. On me, I look like I just got out of lockdown, so I go for clean.
MP: Any sartorial disasters you can share?
RH: That's a book! When I was in my 20's I tried a lot of stuff—I was going to Paris a lot and trying to look French (a disaster)—typical stuff that is part of being that age. Then I realized I look good in some version of narrow jeans, a simple colored sweater, a cotton shirt, and great shoes. I've been working off that formula for years now—just changing the shape of the pieces.
MP: Any menswear trends you adore? or abhor?
RH: I hate those t-shirts that have all the stuff printed on them—starting on the shoulder. They look like an Old English font that someone on acid played with. I don't think anyone over 25 should wear all that Abercrombie stuff—same with sleeveless shirts and tank tops. And those straw cowboy hats—people, no. And anything George Bush wears—those cowboy boots, baggy pants and ugly suits. Ugh. I can't stand seeing guys in suits and overcoats that are too big for them. If people got clothes that fit they would look about 1000% better! I need to stop!
MP: Do you design apparel items for yourself?
RH: I used to make shirts for individual clients and I had tons of shirts—but I can't produce jeans so everything is pretty much purchased from stores. I do have a couple of the jackets that I mentioned earlier...
MP: What city has the best-dressed men?
RH: I love the way guys in New York look. I think it has really evolved and men here embrace their love of making a statement about who they are through how they dress. That aside, I am constantly amazed and the natural chic that Italian men have. It's uncanny how well they look in clothes, how they understand fabric, cut, color. After that, no one knows how to wear a scarf the way Parisian men do!
MP: What would be your dream purchase?
RH: A lovely little house in the country, and/or the bucks to pay from my daughter's college (she's 11)!
Mr. Haines was recently interviewed by Parson students (see video above from lovedi at vimeo) about his blog and how he's inspired by New York City. The video was created by Parson students: Malinda, Kelsey, Dianne, Ashley, and Veronica.
Stop by What I Saw Today and take a look for yourself at Designer Man's unique visual record of cool stuff. The compelling hand drawn sketches by the talented Richard Haines are filled with vitality, warmth and wit—which Mr. Peacock finds very appealing, especially in this fast digital age we live in. Thank you Richard!