Menswear Forums to GQ Editor feat. Jian DeLeon

March 14th, 2014

If you’re an avid reader of, you’ve probably run across Jian DeLeon‘s byline. What you probably don’t know is how he got there by gradually climbing through the ranks of internet menswear enthusiasts and forum posters. This young man is a student of the game in the truest sense of the words. Accordingly, he’s also one of the most well versed guys around on the history of streetwear and it’s influence on mainstream fashion and culture.

These days he earns his keep talking sneakers with A$AP Rocky and Jeremy Scott, or musing on the current state of menswear blogging. And he does it all with a trademark voice and a journalistic integrity that shows he’s really got his finger on the pulse, a skill he owes entirely to Internet forums.

“I started on the forums, Styleforum and Superfuture mostly. That’s really where I developed my clothing nerdiness. Before Reddit’s MFA and long before menswear blogs popped off, these spots were a solid place to learn about clothes if you knew how to shut up and lurk first. There’s a huge repository of knowledge on how a suit should fit to how to break in denim that still exists on these sites, it just takes dedication to read all of it. Then you found out what all the NYC and Tokyo cool guys were wearing, or what brands they were into. Tumblr and Instagram really made that stuff much more accessible.”

Originally from Washington, DC, Jian got his start freelancing for, where he became the Shopping Editor and helped expand their publication. The section’s success got his name out there and led to a position at Complex Media, where he eventually became editor of Complex’s Style section, and was one of the first contributors to Four Pins.

“I’m far from a street style sort of guy—I’m like 5’8, don’t have high cheekbones, and not in shape. But I do put a lot of thought into why I wear what I do, and I geek out about everything from sneakers to double-knee pants.”

Here Jian gives us a taste of his day-to-day personal style, and naturally, a rich history to go along with the pieces that he diligently selects.

1. Fashion is Culture


“Ever since Aaron Levine took the menswear reins at Club Monaco it’s become one of the best labels a dude can find at his local mall. Not many people realize the brand is owned by Ralph Lauren, and their latest collections have really delivered a mix of accessible American sportswear (ironic, since they’re originally Canadian) with bells and whistles clothing nerds can appreciate. Levine’s resume includes the brand hickey, which was way ahead of its time. One of my favorite pieces from them was a blackwatch waxed toggle coat. This British Millerain Parka is its spiritual successor. That’s actually one of my favorite things about Club Monaco, there’s nice little references to Levine’s past menswear hits in the clothes.

I did an oral history on Stussy that became my personal crash course in the history of streetwear. I talked to a lot of the old-school guys that paved the way for that movement and gained a new sense of appreciation for James Jebbia, the founder of Supreme in the process. This denim jacket is from Supreme’s F/W 2012 collaboration with Levi’s. It’s got a leopard print pile lining that’s really warm, but I think my favorite part is the fact that the buttons even say “Supreme x Levi’s.”


“I have a thing for patterned shirts. Andrew from 3sixteen is one of the first guys I really befriended in the industry, and I’m glad to see how far they’ve come as a brand. I’ve also just been really feeling the “air tie” as of late. Beyond David Lynch, the guys behind Fantastic Man actually compiled a cool book documenting its origins in East London subculture and prevalence in the post-punk scene.

I got these jeans because I liked the way they fit, but also because to me they’ve got a huge cultural significance. I think the same way people track down Raf Simons bomber jackets they’re gonna treasure the jeans from Kanye’s first A.P.C. collaboration. Based on a pair of Dior 17cm jeans West used to own, they’re super skinny at the leg and really wide at the waist. I need a belt to wear them, but I wear them a ton. I could probably write an essay on how and why they represent such a seminal moment not just in men’s fashion, but pop culture as a whole.”


“Chances are if you’re Filipino and you grew up in America, the Nike Dunk and Jordan 1 are up there in your favorite sneakers. When I worked with Russ Bengtson it was like going to sneaker boot camp, learning the significance of each silhouette and its place in sports, pop culture, and the sneaker mythos. I personally love the Jordan 1s because they were the original Nike SB—skaters used to cop them because they provided more support than say Vans or Chuck Taylors. There’s an amazing photo of the Bones Brigade skating them in the ’90s.”


2.  Engineered Style


“Engineered Garments is hands-down one of my favorite brands on the planet. Daiki Suzuki knows how to push the envelope just enough while keeping everything grounded in the current world of menswear. The jackets are all unstructured and super comfortable. This suit actually started out as separates. I had the jacket than later found the double-knee pants at a sample sale and they originally were cut huge, so I had my tailor turn them into a more traditional trouser.”


“En Noir is an LA-brand that we got the scoop on during my Complex days. They’re most famous for the leather sweatpants that Kanye West sported in the 2 Chainz video for “Birthday Song”, but they’ve since evolved into one of the best new American labels. It’s easy to typecast them as the “all-leather everything” guys but that’s a disservice to designer Rob Garcia. This trucker jacket is actually reversible, one side’s leather and the other is an olive green bonded neoprene. Honestly it’s probably one of the select En Noir pieces I’m confident I could pull off.”


“These sneakers speak to longtime fans of Engineered Garments—and probably were one of the most affordable items they’ve ever made. Both shoes utilize leather and suede on the upper, but it’s flipped on either side. It’s a call out to Suzuki’s wabi-sabi design philosophy. The first time I saw that was on a pair of Tricker’s brogues from Fall-Winter 2010 (as featured here) – one shoe was a wingtip and the other was a cap toe, but they were meant to be worn together. I could never afford those, but Vans? Shut up and take my money.”


3. Utilitarian Luxury


“Sean Brown is a young Canadian designer with a label called NEEDS&WANTS. He makes varsity jackets and this varsity peacoat with a lone contrast sleeve, and I really liked the elongated look, it’s sporty but refined, and it works over a suit.”


“I sold an old Margiela cardigan and a Patrik Ervell sweatshirt on eBay just to buy this sweatshirt. The leather patches are what sold me, and it fits great. I think of Margiela the same way I think of the iPhone. It’s utilitarian luxury, designed so that you kind of just forget about it and take it for granted.

That’s actually the same way I feel about A.P.C. These double-knee pants are from A.P.C.’s last collaboration with Carhartt Work In Progress. I knew I needed them as soon as I saw the lookbook. A lot of people sleep on Carhartt Work In Progress, but creative director Arnaud Faeh knows what’s up. Whether you’re an average dude or Internet menswear nerd, there’s always a few things that catch your eye. It’s not exactly heritage, not exactly workwear, but it’s super masculine, vaguely street, and very, very wearable.”


“Nike’s got a strong history of great designers, and Nathan Van Hook carries that torch well. I’ve never owned a pair of Bean Boots, but the LunarTerra Arktos I can’t speak highly enough of. They’re comfortable like sneakers but make me feel like Robocop in the best way possible. They’re like what Marty McFly would wear in 2015 if the polar vortex hit Hill Valley. It’s a great combination of functional design, technological innovation, and again—the kind of style you don’t really have to put much thought into.”



Thanks for reading, and special thanks to Jian for participating!

Yours in style,

Articles of Style


Photography by Alex Crawford 

  • Kevin

    This is a great piece. I really appreciated it. Nice collab Jian and Dan.

  • Daniel

    Why so serious?

  • John

    real talk I would love to read an essay on the importance of kanye west’s jeans to pop culture. I’m definitely into that stuff especially in the hip hop world. If you end up writing something like that I would love to read it.

  • Jaws

    Reading some of the pontificating comments in this section, I think it’s wise to take a step back and realize nobody really gives a shit. Fashion kids who use terms like ‘microcosm’ to discuss clothes are always around – and all of them care too much about clothes.

    • Jian

      Here’s the thing, you could say that about ANYONE who dissects things for a living. Sports writers, television writers, automotive writers, food writers. Anyone who studies and loves to engage in the conversation surrounding a particular hobby, object, or industry obviously knows that, in the broader spectrum of things, there are more important things to worry about. But there aren’t as many people that are quick to dismiss basketball as “just a game” or True Detective as “just a show.”

      There are probably things in your own life that you’re guilty of caring too much about, and that’s normal—because it distracts you from the fact that in the grand scheme of the universe, it probably doesn’t matter, and you probably don’t matter. There’s an interesting post on Reddit talking about the difference between a $5 Hanes shirt and a $450 Rick Owens one. The OP summed up the two most prevalent ways people think about clothes: “Those who see clothes as a means to an end (e.g. getting a job, getting noticed by their preferred gender, being treated differently, expressing idiosyncrasies, displaying wealth, looking good, boosting self-confidence) and those who see clothes as an end in itself (i.e. those who appreciate clothes for what they are and enjoy discussing them broadly and with an open mind).”

  • Marshall Mulherin

    Awesome feature. I love all of the contrasting silhouettes this dude throws together. Like that extra-long varsity jacket over the double-kneed pants or the parka over those Kanye super-tapered jeans. Well done, my friend, I’m a fan.

  • AFH

    Heh heh I am pleased as punch with my recent Blackwatch Millerain Field Jacket acquisition from Jigsaw. I don’t think he’s giving his signature pieces enough room to breathe in looks 1 & 2, and he could do with smiling a bit more, but I respect his knowledge of the game.

  • Unseen Flirtations

    Another a1 post. A visual representation of the post-modern obsession with discernment, homage and influence that can be lazily encapsulated into the word ‘geek’. Slavish, yes, but that’s the spirit of youth that can, if let flourish, create new classics.


  • Daniel Barea

    The hype-beast label I get but you have to understand new and forward with classic influences in some cases (not all) fuse something innovative. I personally would only purchase a olive drape army jacket from a vintage store but there are some forwarding thinkers/designers that design products that evolve a classic into almost a better classic. But yes, the 16-23 year old crowd who is waiting and drooling over every single brand and release kills me. I think Staple Design and Brooklyn Circus have carved a significant category in menswear to be reckoned with. The bearded man is no hype-beast son! I did a layout for Jeff Staples magazine a few years back and I will tell you these days he is more innovative than ever and seems to be ‘classically’ driven.

  • Daniel Barea

    He is the epitome of who I am. This is what I represent. I am a Bronx native (80’s baby) who moved on to further education and a military career that has forwarded me the opportunity to travel the world over. I am the smart/cleaned up street-wear (somewhat trending) version of I am a JFK/James Dean/Jay-Z/ in one. For a visual think Brooklyn Circus with premium kicks on. It works for me. I could go upstairs and duplicate almost identically these three fits. Love this article. We are a unique category.

  • Dave Coakley

    Nah….I’m not liking any of these looks. Fair play to you though mate, keep doing your own thing.

  • Harvey

    Not really my style, but gotta give credit for the personality in each look. keep at it brotha!

  • Nick Grant

    REALLY disappointed that this bum ass dude Jian didn’t mention our collaborative efforts on the “ILLUMINATI” Windmill Club shirt in look 1. This is the kind of shit that gets you shot in my hood.

    • Dan Trepanier

      Des Moines goes hard.

  • John B

    Although I wouldn’t wear something similar, I like his style, especially look #1. Wish I could find a blackwatch parka too!
    Not a fan of look #2 though. I feel it would have worked much better with a denim jacket and a tucked shirt.
    While I was writing the comment I noticed the APCxCarhartt trousers and I’m glad I did. Are they coated/waxed? They look really good.

    • Jian

      Neither coated nor waxed, just made from heavy duty twill.

  • Vincent

    I really enjoyed this feature.

    Props to Jian for putting together some solid looks and dropping some great clothing knowledge.

    I wanted to drop my two cents in here for all the people who start jumping all over outfits like these that straddle that menswear/streetwear/trending divide…

    I’m an artist, so the whole concept of enjoying something for it’s own sake is a concept I live with and practice on a daily basis.

    In my opinion, it applies to clothes as well.

    You have to take certain things on their own merits, let them breathe in their own space, forget about ‘timeless’ or ‘classic’ and just enjoy something for the way it looks, the way it alters a human silhouette, the fabric it’s cut from, the level of craftsmanship, etc.

    Sure, at the end of the day some things just look better on certain people than others, and sure, in twenty years we all might look back on drop-crotch pants with the same kind of ironic amusement we get when bringing up bell bottoms, but in the end it’s all just clothes. Beyond those instances when we dress for a purpose, it’s all good fun. Love the looks or hate them, they’re a mode of expression.

    It’s why I’ve really enjoyed some of the more recent features here on TSB. I love seeing the more avant-garde looks pressed up against more traditional GQ type spreads. There is such an enormous variety in the world of fashion, and it’s refreshing to see the looks Dan and co. present branch out from the ‘timeless,’ ‘classic,’ ‘elegant’ suited and booted standbys to something more personal.

    That’s the stuff I find inspiring.

    • Alex Crawford

      I couldn’t agree more. Great comment.

    • Dan Trepanier

      Major thumbs up Vincent. Thank you for your thoughtful and well written comment.

    • Robert

      While on the surface I completely agree with most of your points, I must say, for me, it’s not so much “timeless” “classic” “suited” “elegant” that gets me. I base my opinion of style on brand. Granted I have been wearing Jordan’s since the 80’s, SB’s back when you could get HEINEKENS, VAMPS, IRONS, the rack no line. I even wore bape all back in the early 2000’s. With that said, I look back and realized I was a total hype beast, even though I grew up in the culture. Jian and I may have even bumped into one another in DC back in the day…I through sneaker parties with Wale, waaaaayyyyyyy before MMG.
      Maybe I just feel this way, everytime I see the word “SUPREME.” And, I saw enough of it on this post. I do dig and appreciate the style, I’m just coming at this from a different angle, and moved past this, but still appreciate the roots.
      Cheers, the knowledge you dropped on three pages.

      • Robert

        Threw* sneaker parties.

        • Daniel Barea

          I agree Robert at 34 I am definitely extremely conservative when it comes to the trending looks.

      • Jian

        To your point, I know where you’re coming from. I sold my sneaker collection to move out of my parents’ house after graduating college. I spent my first tax return on Alden Indy Boots and started wearing LBM 1911 sportcoats, Epaulet trousers, and a bunch of J.Crew. The elephant in the room is that a lot of what constitutes “classic” and “timeless” style is—by and large—dictated by white people, and now we’re seeing a lot of the most exciting trends and designers emerge from a culture traditionally dominated by minorities. Also, after a while, you can get bored with your closet if you aspire to do more than just “look good in clothes,” which is a noble goal for men to have, but shouldn’t be one for guys like me whose job is to be hyper-aware of where fashion, style, pop culture, and menswear all intersect.

        There was a point when I bought my first pair of sneakers in four years when I realized that style isn’t really about “moving past” as it is coming “full circle.” Do I need every single Jordan? No. I just want the ones I want. Can I still wear Supreme? Sure. That Loro Piana coat from last season, this season’s Schott blousons, or even their oxford shirts are a far cry from the box logo-emblazoned hoodies and tees of the past.

        Menswear is in a place where “growing up” doesn’t mean trading your kicks and jeans for staid, conservative looks—there’s a reason Jay Z can go from Jordan 3s beachside by day to bespoke Tom Ford tuxes at night, #NewRules and all that. It’s about picking and choosing what still speaks to you, and having fun with your clothes. I interviewed Yasiin Bey a few years ago and he predicted a time when classic menswear staples and streetwear would co-exist, and that “disciplined clothing” would find a way to weave it all together. I think we’ve reached that time.

    • Daniel Barea

      Loved your comment brother…great insight.

  • Olerud_4_Life

    Looks dont do it for me. No offense. Fits look weird and the colors are too dreary and similar to each other (looks 2 and 3 just seem boring and uninspired). The first look is Ok. The sneakers save the outfit, but the second look the black vest ruins the look. Like the herringbone material too much to really dislike or hate the look too much, but 2 and 3 just look bleh.

  • MS

    I agree with the other commenters to a point. The dude is well-spoken and absolutely a tremendous writer. I don’t doubt his knowledge of history, et al. However, at the end of the day, it’s like, I don’t really want to wear clothes that in 10 years I’ll be turning beet red over having worn. There’s something dumpy and embarrassing about this shit, but I appreciate that he’s into trend-setting, genius-level savantism, or whatever.

    • Jian

      You know yourself, and you know what you hate, and that’s good for you. That’s the beauty of personal style. I know exactly who I am and what I’m comfortable with wearing. I’m well past the point of getting embarrassed by things I’ve worn—though that happens to practically every guy when he’s figuring out what works for him.

      Does that mean my style won’t ever change? Definitely not. I love clothes. I love buying them, and I love seeing menswear evolve and having what I’m into evolve with it. I don’t think I’ll ever stop genuinely enjoying clothes, and that’s why I do what I do.

  • MN

    Can I like this article but also think that it’s a total example of brand/trend-whore mentality?

    Refined brand/trend-whore mentality but it has the mentality nonetheless.

    First outfit looked good… 2nd and 3rd were not for me but interesting.

    • Jian

      I think the main difference between a hypebeast and a dude who’s into fashion is the former buys things in order to get props for having them, while the latter buys things because he respects who made them and they speak to his other interests. The whole “style versus fashion” that’s prevalent in the realm of the menswear personal style blog speaks to someone whose goal is just to look good in clothes, and that’s fine. But if you want to have an idea of how menswear got to where it is today and where it’s headed, you have to be open to the idea that fashion does apply to you, that designers and brands (and to a lesser extent, trends) do have a real influence in how the average guy dresses/will dress.

      • MN

        I appreciate the thoughtful response and won’t imply that I’m immune to the same mentality (I’ve my own share of Rick, Heidi, Ervell, Damir etc).

        Those brands do the good work of expanding people’s perceptions of menswear but they mainly result in people wearing them as a badge of honor as opposed to “this would look aesthetically pleasing on me”… which is my idea of fashion… “to look good in clothes”.

    • Dan Trepanier

      “Brand whore” implies that someone buys a product simply because of the brand name. I think Jian makes it very clear that he goes far deeper than that…

  • cam

    The whole street wear thing is completely lost on me. “I really liked the way they fit..” and in the next sentence “really wide at the waist”. Which is it? Do they fit well or are they too wide for you? I don’t know the actual retail price but I’m sure you spent quite a bit to say you have on Kanye West jeans that, by your own admission, don’t even fit you. I hope I’m not coming across harsh but I just can’t get my head around constantly buying the newest piece of clothing simply bc it’s the “next thing”.

    • Jian

      They fit well at the legs, stack great over sneakers or boots. Like most jeans, the waist stretched after a few wears, but they’re supposed to have a sort of “anti-fit” look. As a longtime fan of both Kanye and A.P.C., it wasn’t about having them because it’s the “next thing” as much as a physical representation of everything happening in pop culture that was relevant to me. It’s a wearable microcosm of the current relationship between hip-hop and the fashion industry.

      • Kais

        While your sense of style and aesthetic doesn’t appeal to me, you do state your motivations/rationale very eloquently.

        That, I think, is the point of TSB in particular, and the dialogue in menswear in general – sustained conformity is boring and it’s the iconoclasts who actually elicit useful discussion.

        Just because one covets certain brands doesn’t necessarily make you a “hypebeast”, as you suggest below.

        All the best to you.

        • Dan Trepanier

          Agreed. Thanks Kais!

      • cam

        A completely washed out, ill fitting, pair of overpriced jeans represent everything happening in pop culture? See the first sentence of my original comment…

        • Dan Trepanier

          In a way, yes. It shows the strength that influencers have in changing the negative connotation of “dad wash jeans”. It shows the cross-culture of baggy hip-hop fit with slim european designer. It shows the evolution of hip-hop artists as legitimate fashion mavens who have now broken the barrier to design for celebrated French design houses. Etc, etc.

    • Dan Trepanier

      He didn’t say they “fit well” in a traditional tailored sense. He says he “really likes the fit”. I can certainly agree with the sentiment – some of my favorite pieces have an awkward or ill fit in the perfect way.

      • cam

        You guys win

  • R

    Even though he’s a total hypebeast, I do enjoy is commentary and knowledge of style. And, before I get killed on here, yes, you can be a hypebeast and be knowledgeable like Jian is.