Photography by Caroline McElhinny

Ben Stubbington

VP, Theory Men’s Design | Artist

| Williamsburg

Trying to sum up Stubbington is like playing a never-ending game of contradictions. On the one hand, he’s laid-back, unfussy and surf-inclined, and on the other, he’s urban-minded, meticulous and deeply artistic (just take a look at his personal work). So, what does that all mean for the British designer’s menswear? Something pretty rad, actually. The VP of Theory’s Men’s Design for nearly six years, Stubbington is a master of balancing the sleek with pragmatic, the architectural with functional. In fact, whether it’s an ecru raglan pullover that feels relaxed, not messy or a pair of jeans that are tailored, but familiar, his menswear is as appealing to the city gentleman as it is the Montauk beach bum. In other words, his pieces are a reflection of the designer’s own dynamic duality. Now, who wouldn’t want to be that guy? Here, he sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal his little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: I’m such a creature of habit and tend to eat pretty healthily. If I like the spot and the people, I go back time after time. I’m not what you would call fancy. I love the edamame and miso ramen from Ramen Yebisu in Williamsburg (MAP IT, x) and the avocado and egg dish from Egg Shop (MAP IT, x)— the restaurant is owned by my friends Sarah and Dimitri and one of my paintings is up on a wall. Lil’ Frankie’s in the East Village (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is also a steady staple.

COFFEE OR TEA: Coffee from Gasoline Alley in SoHo (MAP IT, x)— it’s simple, small and has the best owners, Nick and Neville.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Estela (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). It’s fancier than my usual haunts. I always let the maître d’ (and good friend) Quinn give me recommendations.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: An Old Fashioned from CW at Estela— he’s a friend and killer bartender/mixologist.

BEST BRUNCH: My friends would laugh at this question because I’m not a big “brunch” person. Naturally Good Foods in Montauk (MAP IT, x) or Rabbithole in Brooklyn (MAP IT, x) are both laid-back, unfussy and generally healthy.

MUSIC PICK: I have pretty varied taste in music. I see a lot of live music— I’m actually scared to know how many shows I have seen over my years in the city, mostly at Bowery Ballroom (MAP IT, x), Mercury Lounge (MAP IT, x), Glassland (R.I.P.) and Music Hall Of Williamsburg (MAP IT, x).

HEALTHY STAPLE: Integral Yoga Natural Foods in the West Village (MAP IT, x) or I go to Naturally Good Foods and order a “Green Machine” (carrot, kale, parsley and celery) or “Tan Dan” (coconut milk, coconut cream, banana and chocolate).

GUILTY PLEASURE: Dark Chocolate is my vice; I have started to believe that I cannot survive without it.

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: Secrets aren’t secrets if you tell them… but Dia Beacon (MAP IT, x) is one of my favorite places.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: New York City is a double edge sword: it can be the easiest and the most difficult place to live. The older I get, the more I realize I need to breathe a little more. I love to ride down the street on my bike and watch the world go by because you never know what you will see. I will never get bored of this city.

REGULAR AT: I like places that are more intimate, on the darker side and generally not fancy or fussy like Zablozki’s (MAP IT, x), Clem’s (MAP IT, x) and Iona (MAP IT, x), the beaches of Long Island, the mountains upstate and the galleries of Chelsea. Most people don’t realize the beauty we have on our door steps.

TO GET INSPIRED: Hanging out with creative friends is always an inspiration. Otherwise, I get inspired by the streets of New York, the galleries (from big to small), live music, movies (mainly at Sunshine (MAP IT, x), Angelika (MAP IT, x), Nitehawk (MAP IT, x), IFC Center (MAP IT, x) and Film Forum (MAP IT, x)), riding, surfing and being in the great outdoors away from everything and everyone.

CLOSET CHECK: I keep it really simple. As a menswear designer, my clothes come from the line I create with my team. My uniform is a black pair of jeans and a black tee shirt. Honestly, I love the purity of what we do. Our product fits well, it’s made with high quality fabrics, and it’s comfortable. I’m also dabbling in making jewelry— since I was a kid, I’ve always worn things on my wrists. Pilgrim Surf Supply in Brooklyn (MAP IT, x) is great for some cool brands like Norse Projects, boards, great art books and accessories.

SEASON PICK: A good-fitting pair of jeans you can wear almost every day (Theory’s Raffi fit mentioned above is my favorite) and a solid pair of shoes (I have worn Postal Worker Red Wings for years). The beauty of fashion right now is that it has returned to a minimalistic and classic approach with modernity to the design.

BEST HOME DÉCOR: I like things simple, clean, and warm, not uncomfortably modern… Ercol furniture (the UK vintage kind) sums it up (*select pieces available at The Future Perfect (MAP IT, x)).  I have three favorite pieces of furniture: an old industrial sewing machine table I found many years ago and renovated, an Alvar Aalto stool with a deer skin seat from Monocle magazine (a gift from the closest person in my life) and a Danish modern rocking chair that I found in a vintage furniture store that sadly no longer exists.

GROOMING BLACK BOOK: Kiehl’s Facial Fuel is pretty much it for me.

FIT PICK: I have been commuting on my bike for years; I surf when I can and also do a bit of yoga, hiking, and running. I don’t belong to a gym— I prefer to figure things out myself.

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: I had no money when I moved to New York City from England 15 years ago. Unaware of what I was doing, I moved into the projects deep in Flatbush. One night, I came home after a few drinks to cops lining the stairwell with guns out like a scene from Léon (one of my favorite movies from Luc Besson). The cops started dragging a few shirtless and shoeless drug dealers down the stairs. They saw me and said, “What are you doing here?” It turns out that the street was notorious for shootings. I wasn’t trying to be a pioneer— I just lived by the “live-and-let-live” rule. I soon learned that lesson. CP

Ben’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Dia Beacon; Zablozki’s; Stubbington at work; IFC Film Center. Second Row: Theory Men’s; Ramen from Ramen Yebisu; Pieces by Ercol; Seasonal plate at Estela.

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