Get up close and personal with exclusive, inspiring interviews and taste profiles delivered with a cheeky twist to your inbox daily.

Success! You’re all signed up. 🎉
Please enter a valid email address.

By subscribing to our email newsletter, you agree to and acknowledge that you have read our Privacy Policy and Terms.

This Stylist Collects Old Abercrombie & Fitch

And Maharishi cargo pants, vintage button-ups, and The Row.

Phoenix Johnson
fashion stylist closet

Prior to our first encounter, stylist Marcus Allen’s reputation as a collector had informed what little I knew of him. Founder of The Society Archive, a collection of designer goods from past decades, the young creative has essentially built a reputation (and a subsequent visual language) on his obsession with a collection of vintage Abercrombie & Fitch among other powerhouses of the late ‘90s and early aughts. Walking into his downtown New York apartment, I was surprised by how sparse it was—not at all what I expected. Peel back the white-washed doors of the closets lining his entryway, and you’ll find button-downs and trousers hung in a uniform manner next to stacks of knits. This is the sartorial fruit of an editor, not a hoarder. (To note, his professional collection is now stored elsewhere.)

Allen reflects that the more he collects professionally, the more edited his personal consumption becomes. “My uniform honestly comes as a little bit of a surprise to me because I'm so appreciative of product,” he explains. The daily cargo-trousers-and-button-up rotation is a product of utility; as a stylist among other job titles, Allen spends most days on set. This uniform dresser has an unsurprising reverence for fellow uniform dressers, specifically a few heralded fashion designers. Allen helms the Instagram page @ralphshowfits where he catalogs Ralph Lauren’s eponymous designer’s end-of-show bows, all of which boast variations on his own uniform. Other favorites include the divorced-from-their-collections ensembles of Tom Ford and Phoebe Philo. “Just simple, classic—no fashion.”

Allen fittingly loves that if-you-know-you-know brand of luxury that Philo is known for. Minimal. Made to last. And no logos. The Row knitwear is on heavy rotation, which he will of course style with Maharishi cargos or those Bottega Veneta faux-denim leather trousers. The latter bewitched him upon seeing them IRL. So much so that he tracked down a friend in Paris to nab them at a cheaper European rate. “I was getting that pant. It was just a matter of how and when.” Some would say he’s a compulsive shopper. Others would say he knows what he likes. He once bought a Mary J. Blige concert t-shirt off the back of a patron of Dover Street Market. He splurged on a Cartier Tank watch the first time he saw it in-store—he swears he only went to try it on.

When he’s not purchasing the occasional four-figure luxury good, his shopping pendulum swings to the complete opposite side: the aforementioned pre-owned Abercrombie & Fitch. “And it's not just Abercrombie,” says Allen, “it's The Gap and Banana Republic and J.Crew. All of those pieces from when we were in school, they paid attention to detail and quality. And that's few and far between at those price points today.” That said, in his own school days, Allen was buying into the lifestyle A&F marketed to America's youth more so than the product. Their affordable pieces he calls “low-hanging fruit” to those coveting that rugged glamour from the suburbs.

Allen, born in Ohio to a model mother and fashion-revering father, says fashion was not only in his blood but his way of connecting to his parents. He moved with his aunt and uncle in Easton, Massachusetts at 11 and found himself one of the few kids of color at his school. The art of getting dressed offered “a way to put yourself in any social setting you want to be a part of.” He mixed the aesthetic of A&F with pieces influenced by Hedi Slimane-era Dior Homme to concoct a look people at school dubbed the “‘fresh prince of Easton.’ If you could call a jock fashionable, that's how I would describe it.”

It’s no surprise that Allen later worked at Abercrombie (and still has the folding board to prove it) before Ralph Lauren. At the latter, he began as a sales associate, “which was funny because I really did not care about selling things to people,” Allen explains. “People bought things from me because they saw that I really appreciated the product and really was interested in putting these looks together for myself.” His biggest fault with the workplace? The uniform. In contrast to the eclectic all-American looks Lauren is famous for, employees (at least those working at the Upper East Side mansion) had to wear slim-cut black suits. In rebellion, Allen had his pant leg tailored a bit shorter and sported salacious bare ankles. “I would get in trouble every single day and have to buy a $20 pair of socks.”

Allen turned his personal archive into a public (or by appointment, at least) platform in 2020 for fellow stylists, designers, and shoppers. He often pulls from it for his own work styling editorials for the likes of GQ, Denim Tears, and Gallery Dept. His avid habit of collecting both material objects and influential references throughout all stages of his career made this possible. In addition to this closet, the stacks of books and magazines lining the stylist’s walls reveal interests that range from the work of photographer Tina Barney to the iconic Steven Meisel Hollywood issue of Vogue Italia. He’s cultivated what many would consider the goal of a successful stylist: his own visual language. This signature language is best illustrated in a conversation he had with his assistant while viewing the Thierry Mugler exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. His assistant remarked that the brand felt like one you could only wear head-to-toe. Not in Allen’s perspective. “I would take that metal dress and throw a fucked-up hoodie over it,” he says. “If I see something that's highly stylized, I'm like, ‘Cool, how would you put this on to go get a coffee?’” Shop his closet essentials here.

More From the series Closet
You May Also Like