Kansas City just got a little cooler — and a whole lot more worldly. At least in fashion circles.
This fall, style-conscious shoppers can buy both a KC hat and a KC T-shirt in Thailand, Tokyo and more than 200 other cities around the world.
Whom do we have to thank for the Kansas City love? Try GQ magazine, The Gap and local blue jean baron Matt Baldwin.
named Baldwin — owner of Baldwin Men’s Shop in Leawood — one of the four best new menswear designers in the country. As one of the winners, Baldwin gets to design an exclusive 12-piece collection to be sold, starting in October, at Gap stores around the globe.
His KC-centric collection includes the denim KC hat worn by celebrities such as Overland Park’s Jason Sudeikis of “Saturday Night Live” fame and his fiancee, actress Olivia Wilde.
“It will be KC worldwide,” Baldwin said of his collection, which also includes his signature Henley jeans, a button-down shirt, belt and accessories.
“To be able to shine a light back on the city I love is very exciting,” Baldwin said. “To me it just proves the entrepreneurial spirit of Kansas City is alive and thriving.”
The announcement will appear in the magazine’s April issue, which hits newsstands today.
What persuaded GQ to choose Baldwin?
“I’d like to say it was a painstaking process and lots of sleepless nights, but when it came to Matt it was a pretty easy decision,” said GQ’s creative director, Jim Moore. “We’ve had our eyes on him for a couple of years now.
“There are so many upstart companies and young designers who have a desire to design clothes, but they don’t have a business model. (Matt) makes one of the best pairs of jeans in the world, (but) he’s not basing his whole business model on that. Opening a store allowed him to expand his line.
“We don’t like to give people this honor right out of the gate because we don’t know if they will make it. Matt is going to have made it in a very short period of time. He will continue to grow and become one of this country’s biggest menswear talents.”
GQ also honored Southern California designer Paige Mycoskie of Aviator Nation, a line of surf clothes; brothers Liam and Sam Fayed of New York City, creators of the Bespoken line of suits for young men; and Ernest Sabine of New York City, whose Ernest Alexander men’s accessory line is known for stylish bags and totes.
Previous winners include Thom Browne, Robert Geller, Michael Bastian, Billy Reid and Todd Snyder.
Baldwin, 35, is no stranger to GQ’s accolades. Last year the fashion mag named Baldwin Men’s Shop one of the 30 best men’s specialty stores in the country and declared it “the best place to buy denim in America, period.”
This honor is even bigger.
“This thing is going to be everywhere,” Baldwin said. “And the collection typically sells out in 48 hours.”
Daniel Cummings, Baldwin’s brand manager, called it “huge.”
“This is validating that we can have a national — and international — impact from right here in Kansas City,” Cummings said. “It goes to who we are as a brand, who we are as individuals and who Matt is. And Kansas City is a big part of that. We’re really proud to be from Kansas City.
“The city has been really supportive. It’s a great place, and it gets overlooked so often. Now here’s our opportunity to represent Kansas City all over the world.”
The Baldwin brand already has received some powerful PR from celebrity fans such as George Clooney, Ellen DeGeneres, NBA superstar Kevin Durant and hip-hop artists Jay-Z, Nas and Common.
“We do a camo trouser,” Baldwin said. “It’s literally Jay-Z’s favorite pair of pants. He is one of the owners of the Brooklyn Nets, and he wears it courtside almost every day at the games.
“He got on GQ’s best dressed list because he wears his ‘beloved Baldwin camos’ as he put it. Cool.”
At Baldwin Men’s Shop, on the southeast corner of Roe Avenue and 119th Street, Henley jeans are $220, and the KC hat costs $42. Prices for the Baldwin collection at The Gap may be different.
Baldwin found out about the GQ honor earlier this year after presenting his fall collection in New York. Moore called him personally with the news.
“I had a huge smile on my face,” Baldwin said. “I was just very humbled and very honored that he saw what I was doing, and that he believes in me. That’s the cool thing. These guys really want to use their power to help young and emerging designers become successful. To have GQ and the Gap’s full support around the collection to present it to more than 200 stores around the world is a dream come true.”