Newport Beach menswear designer Mark Pomerantz is a rare amalgam of businessman, artist, dreamer, technician, and storyteller. Since 2010, the 32-year-old has created bespoke and couture ready-to-wear lines twice yearly in his atelier. His suits are made in Italy with cloth primarily from English mills, and take four to six weeks to complete. But don’t call the O.C. native’s fastidious way of doing things Old World. “I just think there’s a right and wrong way to do something,” he says. His collection is sold by appointment through his studio or at C Dobbs in Corona del Mar. Look for trunk shows with select retailers.
How’d you get started?
I’ve been in the fashion industry my entire professional life; I went to design school (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York straight out of high school.
I’ve always been inspired by what makes something the best. I’ve had a lifelong appreciation for dressing up and dressing well. In my late teens, I slowly connected the dots that I could be a designer. More important, what always inspired me is quality. I’ve always been driven to understand what makes something the best. … Clothing became the medium that I applied craft and passion to. Orange County is so casual, not a lot of men wear suits here. Just because my office is in Newport Beach, we’re not an Orange County brand. We’re a global design firm. We make clothing how we want; we make what we want. I’m not designing for an Orange County customer or a New York customer. As an artist, you can’t let consumption dictate your art. You just produce what you want, what you feel from the heart, what you emotionally connect with. From a process standpoint, you go with your gut.
So you’re an artist?
I am an artist, yeah. Absolutely. This is just a medium of expression.
Menswear is what I organically started designing and was inspired by. As I mature and my brand matures, we’ll develop a womenswear line as well.
Can you describe your process?
Everything that happens in our line happens in our atelier—it’s inspired there. So first it appears in some sort of sketched format, then we make samples from that, whether it’s a design detail or, more often, a construction detail. We’ll make those samples, review them, revise them, and we’ll send them to the factory. Or I’ll take them to the factory and implement them into the production. When we put together a collection, it’s a fusion of ideas between fabric colors, textures, yarns, weaves, and how we can marry them with the shapes and silhouettes we want to evolve with that season.
What’s the story behind your Spring‑Summer 2016 collection?
A seaside sophisticate living or traveling to a large metropolitan city nestled on the coast/shoreline or an oceanside harbor.
What designers do you admire?
I don’t actually look at other designers’ work. I don’t want any outside influence subconsciously on what I do. I don’t know how any real designer can say they are inspired by another real designer, but I’m inspired by an idea. I do love looking at retail, but I don’t follow the fashion shows and I don’t read fashion magazines. I like going out to stores to get inspired; you know I’m
a merchant as much as I’m a designer.
Describe your customer in three words.
Connoisseur, entrepreneurial, sophisticated.
What are the staples for a well-dressed Mark Pomerantz man?
I don’t like this question. Look, this is all frivolous, not a single one of our customers has a need for another item unless their tuxedo blew up or something. But in many cases, our clients buy a tuxedo every season from us because we’re a collectible brand—what we’re selling is desire and passion and a perspective. I would say clients need to come look at our collection every season. This isn’t Garanimals (a mix and match system for children). This is a very high level, artistic approach that’s extremely wearable.
If you could dress any man, living or dead, whom would you choose?
I have no idea. We don’t put ourselves into corners like that. Everybody’s going to latch on if I say a name, and they’re going to think about it that way and that’s not how I want to think about it. Intellectual people wear our suits and they’re who I would like to have wear our suits—other artists, other people in pursuit of something on a slightly more considered level, like we are. If we were to work with an actor, I would like to work with a Daniel Day‑Lewis. He’s someone who approaches his body of work the same way we approach our body of work.
So you wouldn’t lobby a celebrity to wear your clothes?
I don’t think that’s authentic. People always ask us what celebrities we work with, and we have athletes and celebrities who wear our suits. But the type of guys who we categorically work with are the guys signing their paychecks.