The most stylish man you’ve never heard of

One of the hottest influencers on men's style right now is not a designer, a model or an actor. Nor is he particularly young.

Nick Wooster is a 55-year-old New Yorker who, after compiling an impressive resume working as a fashion director at that city's high-end department stores, has become a star in his own right - principally through garnering a massive social media following keen to ogle his distinctive sartorial style.

I subscribe to the notion of the sartorial mullet.

Nick Wooster

With more than 327,000 people subscribing to his feed on the photo-sharing Instagram platform, camera lenses now train on him wherever he goes. He made his name – it's Nickelson Wooster to his family – by never shying away from clothes that spark interest, debate or even derision.

At 55, American Nick Wooster has an unfeasibly strong influence on global fashion trends.
At 55, American Nick Wooster has an unfeasibly strong influence on global fashion trends. Photo: Tumblr

When we meet he is, at least by his standards, conservatively attired: university stripe blue and white shirt, Thom Browne navy Norfolk jacket (pockets turned 90 degrees), grey trousers fashionably hemmed above the ankle and Thom Browne crepe sole brogues worn without socks.

Street or classic?

Though his personal style is often referred to as "street", he frequently utilises classic elements. He is great fan of both distinctive and classic blazers, especially tweed, and nearly always wears them with a tie. But it is below the waist that his style strays well away from the norm.

 
  

"I subscribe to the notion of the sartorial mullet—stay tailored up top and less buttoned up on the bottom," he told Details, a fashion website, last year.

He is regularly photographed wearing a shirt, tie and jacket that he has matched with a pair of shorts – revealing a large tattoo on his right leg – and leather shoes. Other than that, his style does not lend itself to easy definition, even by its wearer.

"I don't know, it's just based on what I like," he admits while in Melbourne this week on a promotional tour. "Maybe like a cook who has a repertoire of things that they can insert when needed to make a dish work, that's what I like to think I've done."

Not provocative

That Wooster eschews predictability is arguably his biggest marker as a sartorialist. It becomes apparent as he speaks that he doesn't dress with the intent to provoke a response. It is, he says, a simple expression of who he is.

"I'm aware that dressing oddly can put people off and I don't do it to offend them, I just do it for my own amusement more than anything," he says, before adding that his attire is also informed by consideration for others.

"I do think that – and (designer) Tom Ford has said a version of this, and I honestly think it's true – I do believe that it is a form of manners. How you present yourself is a way of letting someone else know that you care. At the end of the day I don't see myself, but others do."

This is Wooster's first trip to Australia, having been brought here as a guest of the Woolmark Company.

Inevitably the conversation turns to wool, which his trip to Australia is designed to promote in fashion hotspots around the world. He will deliver the message, particularly in his home country, that "wool is the cornerstone of a man's wardrobe".

Cut-through

The Australian sponsors of his trip down under are not the first to attempt to leverage Wooster's phenomenal cut-through with young fashion deciders. Italian manufacturing group Lardini recently anointed Wooster as a brand ambassador, developing a Wooster + Lardini collection made up of jackets, trousers, shorts and accessories.

Tom Julian, of trend intelligence agency the Doneger Group, told the New York Times earlier this year: "It's now established as a part of the creative process that, just as we've had stylists interfacing with the world of red carpets, we can have style makers playing a role on Pinterest and Instagram. These influencers affect trends and can help any brand or retailer who's trying to find a white space."

That a man on the other side of 50 can be one such influencer shows that social media can now rivals the catwalk when it comes to setting fashion agendas.

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