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The Grown-Up Q&A: Todd Barket

It takes a retail visionary to bring together small-batch skincare brands like Aesop and Baxter of California with retro loafer pennies and Japanese chambray blazers. But then again, Todd Barket isn’t new to the game: He spent over a decade at Gap and Old Navy before launching UNIONMADE, a California-based string of stores devoted to heritage menswear, accessories, and grooming goods, in 2009. Here, the tastemaker shares his thoughts on what it means to be a grown-up.

BB Man: Is there a moment or a time in your life when you first felt like a grown-up?

Barket: I think the first time I felt like a grown-up was when we started hiring employees and were responsible for people’s paychecks and livelihood.

BB Man: What's your motivation when you get dressed every morning?

Barket: The weather dictates how you dress in San Francisco. I always have a layer on that I can take off midday. My style is easy and rumpled (in a styled way).

BB Man: What article of clothing should every man own?

Barket: I think every man should own a navy blazer. You can wear it multiple ways and it always looks smart and timeless.

BB Man: And what article of clothing should a man never wear?

Barket: That would definitely be flip-flops.

BB Man: Who are elder statesmen of the fashion and style world that you respect most?

Barket: Ralph Lauren and Mickey Drexler. They invented American style and they have a point of view that never waivers. They are responsible for retail as we know it and they have introduced American men to good style and good taste.

BB Man: Has UNIONMADE "grown-up" in the short time you guys have been around?

Barket: For sure. We are definitely playing in categories that we haven't dabbled in yet. We are getting a bit more tailored and grown-up in our assortment. The nice part about growing is it still allows us to experiment a bit and move the aesthetic forward and take a few chances seasonally.

BB Man: Who was your style icon when you were a kid?

Barket: It wasn't necessarily a person. It was more like brands. I was always enamored by the photography of Olivero Toscani. He shot all of the Esprit catalogs and Benetton advertisements and the styling was always amazing. They both had a certain energy to them and an optimism that no one has replicated since.

BB Man: What's one style that you'd like to see make a comeback?

Barket: I always still like denim on denim. It's a tough one, but when it's done right and the pieces are really good, it can look chic.

BB Man: What's one skill should every grown man should have?

Barket: Listening seems to have gone by the wayside. With technology and other interruptions there is so much going on that we forget there is a lot to be learned from people and we sometimes need to stop and listen to others.

BB Man: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Barket: Be prepared. It's always best to have a plan and a few ideas in your back pocket.

BB Man: How should a man face his fears?

Barket: Head on. With the exception of the dentist and anything that requires drawing blood.

Read our entire Birchbox Man Grown-Up Interview series here.

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