Fascinating People…Author and Trend Expert Tom Julian
It’s no secret that Arizona’s fashion presence is growing, especially to stylish author and trend expert Tom Julian of New York City, spotted at a recent fashion event. Julian had come out to support Cityscape retailer, Designer District’s fashion show and was impressed with the local talent. From his first job at Gucci to becoming a leading trend expert and brand marketing expert at his own company, Tom Julian Group, Julian has made his mark on the marketing and fashion industry. Not only has he been the style expert and commentator for Oscar.com for 15 years, but he recently wrote his second men’s style book for Nordstrom and has no plans to slow down.
I had the amazing opportunity to speak with Julian via phone and learn more about his work in the industry and even a few red carpet style tips.
Submit your comments and questions for a chance to win a signed copy of Tom Julian’s first book, Nordstrom Guide to Men’s Style.
Q: Can you give our readers a brief background of your experience in the fashion industry as a trends analyst and men’s style expert?
A: “I began my career in retail in Pittsburgh, which provided me a basis of specialty retail, marketing and merchandising. I then used those skills to transfer to New York City to become a Menswear Industry Executive, which led me to being a Trend Expert in the ad world. Ultimately, I combined those career paths to form my own company as a Brand Marketing Expert for Tom Julian Group. I believe that all skills are transferrable once one can perfect and prove the levels of experience and bottom-line business results.”
Q: You interned with Preview magazine before landing your first official job with Gucci in New York City. Why do you feel internships are important to an individual’s success?
A: “Internships make the difference for even the college-educated person. I would not have been able to connect a New York City career without the internship. I took it on in my senior year without pay or credits and spent money every day to do the internship (parking, food, etc). However, I knew that I was investing in me and my long-term work experiences.”
Q: Why did you decide to form your own company, the Tom Julian Group, and what sets it apart from other companies in the industry?
A: “In March 2008, I had been with the ad agency McCann Erickson and learned a great deal about global ad agencies, big clients and big agendas. I had also realized that I still had a unique ability to connect strategic thinking with lifestyle marketing and that there was definitely an open door to create a business model around that. There were many trend firms and global consultants, but not many that applied our ‘Vision-Branding-Solutions’ mantra as a partner for our clients.”
Q: How would you describe your personal style?
A: “To reference my book, I’m a mix of luxury and contemporary, and I invest in quality timeless pieces, as well as fashion and trend-driven pieces. I build my wardrobe around structured items, for example a blazer.”
Q: When it comes to fashion and styling, what inspires you?
“I look for a product with quality, designers with modern vision, and I am more about lines and shapes…an architectural vision. As a trend person, all worlds inspire me…from how one lives in the city, to suburban life. For me, layering on the local experience and cultural entertainment complete the equation. I watch the runways and am aware of the colors and fabrics, but the biggest reference comes from the runway to the street.”
Q: Your first book, Nordstrom Guide to Men’s Style was a huge success. What motivated you to write the follow-up book, Nordstrom Guide to Men’s Everyday Dressing?
A: “I was motivated by a strategic plan with Nordstrom and Chronicle Books to build books that connect with customers, support the salespeople and continues to talk in an engaging way to modern men. We realized that the first book was about business and lifestyle dressing. The second book focused on everyday dressing for occasions.”
Q: Would you consider writing more?
A: “Never say never! More is a good thing, but more must be smart and strategic for me and my company.”
Q: I heard you have been on the road, promoting your new book. What has that been like?
A: “In one year, I visited over 40 cities/stores for Nordstrom. I met a wide range of modern shoppers. My biggest learning is that men want to dress stylishly without looking foolish. Boomers want to be seen as more contemporary and less traditional. With most men, it is ‘show me, don’t tell me.’ Many men are doing their own shopping and looking to get smart when it comes to making choices, so my store appearances and style books helped to do that.”
Q: What are your plans after the book tour?
A: “I will continue to focus on running Tom Julian Group and work with a range of clients, from Nestle Purina (Scottsdale Office!) to American Eagle. I will also continue the style commentating for Oscar.com, as well as exploring new business opportunities.”
Q: You mentioned you are also the fashion commentator and expert for Oscar.com. How did this come about?
A: “This came about from an ad program created by Fallon Worldwide and their Lee Jeans client. It was the 67th Annual Academy Awards. They were the broadcast sponsor for the awards and needed to come up with a more impactful commercial idea. Lee Jeans created a commemorative denim cap for their fans and distributed programs to members of the fashion media. I also hosted the first-ever broadcast satellite report the morning after the Oscars and talked about the red carpet recap and the Lee Jeans’ denim cap idea. The following year, Lee Jeans was no longer a sponsor and Oscar.com was just getting started. They reached out to me to help them bring the fashions to life and create photo galleries. This is where the relationship began, during the 68th Academy Awards. Since then, I have stood on the red carpet for 15 Oscars and have been a chronicler of trends for the Hollywood world.”
Q: Through your experience and coverage of the red carpet, what are some black tie do’s and don’ts?
-No loafers, boots, or business shoes when invite says black tie
-Never match a bow tie and pocket square
-Never cuff a tux pant
-Wear a cummerbund with folds up (catches crumbs)
-Customize your look (studded antique cuff links, borrowed vintage, etc.) to create a sense of storytelling and personalization.
Q: Describe a moment in your career where you realized you had “made it”.
A: “I am someone who doesn’t dwell on what was or what has been accomplished. I look at what is next and where to go to advance a business model or a reputation. I believe that there have been ongoing moments of ah-as, from appearing on TV with personalities like Regis Philbin, to seeing the first bound copy of my first style book, to being called one of the coolest jobs in advertising by Adweek. One should take all of those moments into acknowledgement, but continue to see how they are helping one’s reputation.”
Q: You recently attended the Designer District fashion show in Phoenix during your visit here for the book tour. How do you feel Phoenix’ fashion presence has grown?
A: “Phoenix has transformed itself from a resort and secondary corporate market into a vibrant urban/suburban world. Fashion has transformed itself from a mix of active and sporty dressing to a focus on luxury and designer to an in-depth offering of all segments from specialty and mass to discount and vertical brands.”
Q: With your vast experience in the industry, what tips or advice can you give to our readers?
“I do believe that many in Phoenix are either comfort dressers or trend seekers and that given your many communities and neighborhoods (from ASU to Tempe to Paradise Valley), there could be more stylish ways to shift one’s lifestyle and wardrobe. In regards to breaking into the fashion industry, you must leverage your education to assist in the learning process. There are many fashion programs one can become involved with, and there are always things happening. I am amazed that so many high schools have fashion programs. There are extensive blogs and other online activities with a style point of view. The world is only as small or large as one makes it.”
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Article by Lauren Pfingstag, Phoenix Fashion Week
“The Resource For All Things Fashionable”