NYFWM: 4 Questions with Garrett Neff

Garrett Neff and Eric Rutherford; photo by Eric Rutherford

Our special contributor Eric Rutherford caught up with model-turned-designer Garrett Neff at his men's fashion week presentation last night—and tried on his military-inspired swimwear line. 

You may recognize Garrett Neff from Hugo Boss ads or any number of fashion editorials. The model is an industry favorite because he’s good looking and such a good guy. Turns out he’s a good designer too. Last night Neff took his turn on the other side of fashion, hosting a presentation of his new swimwear line, Katama, at the James Hotel pool. His debut collection is inspired by his youth spent on Katama beach in Edgartown, Massachusetts, as well as the heroes in his life: his grandfather, father, and uncle. Neff’s passion for sports and the military background of his uncle also influence his designs—which, as special contributor Eric Rutherford reports, have a great fit. We’re loving the range of military colors—rich khakis and greens that work with tank tops, t-shirt, and button-downs. 

You’re still really busy modeling—so what made now the time to start a menswear line?
I had learned the value of telling a story through fashion. I have been a part of that story as a model for years and I felt it was a natural progression for me from another perspective. Plus, I knew swimwear from working with designers on their underwear and swimwear campaigns. 

Let’t talk inspiration.
It started with three men. My grandfather who’s a WWII vet, world traveler, and a sophisticated guy. My father, who was as big a racquet sports guy as I am. And my uncle, a Navy Seal. During the summers [growing up], he taught me how to clam, fish, and be a total outdoorsman.

They all played a strong influence in my life and helped to shape me as a man and a person. This line is a nod to their support and the amazing summers I had in Katama with my family...and still do.

How did you decide on the fit or cut of each style? 
I focused on those suits that those 3 guys would wear and it started with a Navy seal re-do trunk with a full belt that has a higher cut on the waist. There’s also a variation on the tennis trunk with a liner. And my uncle would wear his running shorts to swim in so there is a micro runner. All of which I felt "real men" would wear, while being fashionable and athletic.

When you get on a plane, what are 3 things always in your carry on?
I always bring my Mac because I am looking at new designs all the time; an external drive so that I can save images and sketches; and my CANON 1DX, to capture great images that inspire me.

Katama by Garrett Neff