As many of our readers know, we here at ESM are suckers for well-made travel bags.
If we were given the opportunity, we’d probably have like.. mmm… 60 of them so we could sport a different look every time we went on vacation.
Recently, we were fortunate to discover MAST, a Los Angeles-based brand who creates some of the most beautiful and elegant travel gear for discerning individuals.
Here’s a little excerpt from their official press release:
Born in Los Angeles, MAST was bred to embody casual elegance. Emulating California luxury, the brand launched with its signature, functional carryalls and is now methodically expanding to include in-demand essentials such as travel gear. 100% handmade and locally produced, each piece from the MAST collection is comprised of the highest quality materials. These investment worthy pieces are all individually produced, with their seasonal selections being limited edition.
We had the good fortune to sit down with Steve Solari, the Creative Director of MAST to talk about men’s style, his company and any style advice he can give our readers:
We’re big fans of your brand MAST. Tell us a little bit about how it got started and what inspired the product line. Did you have any challenges in the beginning?
MAST began while I was in college. It felt like a calling, and for years I told myself I wanted to create a luxury brand for men, that women would enjoy as well.
I sat my (now) business partner down to dinner one night during my junior year at university and laid out the plans for creating MAST.
I knew I wanted to do bags and I knew I wanted them to appeal to men – all types of men (he’s straight, I’m gay).
Now in our third season, and with our most complicated line to date, we are proud to have created a brand that values quality and versatility, with styles that are unique and fresh.
I always felt that the market places too much focus on utility and function, and while I love the value of utility – I was tired of compromising style – enter MAST.
In your media kit, there is this quote: “At MAST, we aim to capitalize on those 15 minutes between valet and check-in – we want you to be noticed…” Tell us a little bit more about this goal/philosophy for your clientele and how it defines your product line.
I believe travel inspires a certain level of exhibitionism.
Before a trip we might get into better shape or buy some new clothes that we wouldn’t normally because they are more fun or sexy.
Travel gives us the opportunity to step outside of our daily lives and try on a new persona.
We fantasize about wearing that perfect outfit to a romantic dinner in paradise, or meeting a new person in a tiny cobblestone street who might sweep us off our feet.
For me travel is all about the fantasy. With MAST, your trip begins with us. You put all these hypotheticals in to your MAST bag at home in your room as you dream of what is to come, and with our unique products we aim to provide a more stylish option than your typical travel bag, one that stands out in the crowd – just like we believe our customers do.
Those fifteen minutes between valet and check in are your first chance to live that fantasy and we want you to get the most out of it.
What are some of your favorite MAST pieces and why?
Currently I am obsessed with the Flight Bag in Black and I use it daily as my briefcase.
When I designed it I wanted it to maximize one’s ability to carry a weekend’s worth of your favorite pieces in one bag.
While it does that perfectly – its function as a workbag is undeniable. I love the versatility of it, work and play.
Secondly, and perhaps our most innovative item, is the Total Look Garment Bag.
Men and women love this piece and I must agree. It allows you to carry an entire outfit in one place.
Let’s say you have a meeting at a conference coming up, or maybe a destination wedding – your suit, tie, cufflinks, belt and shoes all fit into this sleek nylon bag.
Water resistant and incredibly strong, you can separate your outfit from your other clothes and feel confident everything you need to look your best is complete and all in one place.
ESM is all about style. If you could describe your personal style in one sentence, what would it be?
Classic with a twist.
I love the attention I get when my outfit has a traditional silhouette, but integrates wild prints, colors or extreme fit.
It throws people off in great way – they have nothing to say because you still look totally professional yet you’re totally breaking the rules in a way that flatters you and shows them just how confident you are.
Don’t expect to pull this off though with an ego however – that’s overkill.
What advice would you give readers who are also trying to develop their style? What about those who are developing their style on a budget?
Developing one’s personal style is simple; keeping it fresh is the hard part for me.
I cannot tell you how many dark colored cashmere V-neck sweaters I have. They fit my frame well, make my shoulders look wider and slim out my waist – but the look is tiring after a while and the same goes for my other staples.
When I want to update my look I pick up a men’s magazine or click through the latest from the worlds biggest designers. I save the looks I want to try out and duplicate them at my favorite stores.
When on a budget – I find myself relying on less trendy, more classic looks that I can easily duplicate at discount stores and outlet malls.
When I’m feeling really adamant about creating a certain fit – I see my tailor and bring in some items that have been getting stale in my closet.
For as little as ten dollars, I can have a brand new shirt or pair of pants by having them altered to represent a more current fit trend.
Has your style developed as your business has developed? If so, how has it changed?
My style has developed in relation to MAST in a couple of ways – I find myself wanting to represent my brand and therefore have to catch myself from dressing the bag.
You know when you have that one piece you want to show off and you develop a look to compliment it? That happens a lot.
Luckily for me our bags are so versatile it makes the process easy. Denim always compliments our pieces, but so does a suit and tie.
Lately I have donated the pieces I am tired of and now I feel like the best representation of our products is a more muted look – lots of black and white – that I wear on sales calls.
But to be honest, if the weather permits, I’m usually dressed casually and a smart pair of slacks and a white shirt with black or brown loafers without socks.
I’m known for always looking as though I just got off a yacht.
What are some of your favorite men’s looks right now?
Right now I’m thinking about Summer and festival season so I spend more time in the gym and buy clothes that exemplify my hard work I put in there.
Every spring I buy a fresh package of white cotton V-necks and at least 3 pairs of shorts – one beige pair, one colored and one in a wild print.
For me, I personally like shorts that are cut above the knee, but for most men a more traditional cut is fine as long as they are willing to roll them up a couple times.
This spring / Summer however, I’ve been eyeing items that are traditionally winter colors. I don’t know why but I love the idea of black and grey at the beach with bright colored sandals or baseball hat.
What is your philosophy on men’s accessories? What are your favorite accessories to wear?
Less is more.
While I love it when I see men who can pull off lots of bracelets, necklaces and hats – I personally prefer either one of each, none at all, or a simple timepiece.
I always wear a watch. It’s classy and prevents me from checking my smartphone too often – the ultimate mood breaker and our modern universal distraction.
Nothing says “I don’t want to be here” like checking your smart phone.
Do you have any style icons? Who are they and why?
My style icons are everywhere – in magazines, on Instagram and on the street.
They are usually men who focus on their fitness and aren’t afraid to show off their physical assets. Be it great legs, wide shoulders, or great arms, the man that dresses his body type is always going to come out on top.
But more traditionally I love Cary Grant.
As a history major I love watching classic films and pulling fashion cues from Hollywood’s’ most handsome leading men and Cary Grant never disappoints.
He beams masculinity yet is unafraid to wear and ascot, cross his legs, wear roomy linen pants all while walking around like he owns the place – no matter where he is. He’s timeless.
At ESM, we have a list of “Style Essentials” or pieces that every man should have in his wardrobe. Do you have your own list of style essentials? What are they?
My number one style essential is an endless amount of decadent underwear.
I grew up with three sisters and they all had an enormous drawer full of underwear – I inherited that I guess as my underwear collection fills up the top half of my bureau.
Never have men had more options and never have underwear fabrics and styles have more integrated technology and inventive fabrics – it’s a great time to be a man’s package!
Other than that nobody can go wrong with the a well-made bag, something that goes beyond the traditional messenger bag and says something more about your style than your need for pencil holder pockets.
But perhaps the most important style essential for me is a fresh set of 100% cotton sheets – preferably white.
So many stylish men drop the ball on this one. They seem to have it all yet their bedding falls short. What is more stylish than being well rested? Nothing, I say.
That and your lover and you will feel more inspired to spend more time in bed if it mimics a cloud, right?
Bottom line, if you don’t know what a duvet cover is, than you cant really claim you’re in the game – sorry.
What is your definition of “style”? Is there a difference between “style” vs. “fashion”? If so what differentiates each?
Style is an attitude – fashion is what lives in your closet.
Balancing those two is what makes your personal fashion choices enhance your style. My style is preppy in silhouette, but pushes the boundaries of preppy with color and print.
What does the future hold for Steven Solari and MAST?
I see us continuing to create products that give men the luxury to explore their love of well-made accessories.
We have an interest in bringing some apparel in to the fold and will begin to do so by spring of 2016.
For me it’s simple, I love to shop for the right fit, but I’d be delighted if we offered perfect basics that have the MAST appeal built right in to them.
To keep up with Steve Solari and MAST, you can check out their official website at http://www.mastresort.com, their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mastresort, their Instagram account at www.instagram.com/mastresort and their Twitter account at https://twitter.com/mastresort.