Micah Cohen embodies what he designs. In fact, you’ll typically see the 30-year old modeling his own apparel in various press shots for the casual menswear line. Born in Los Angeles, both the designer and his young label, Shades of Grey by Micah Cohen, are stylishly cool yet laid back, reflections of each other. Here the lifelong Angeleno shares his go-to spot for getting his weekly sushi fix, where he heads to satisfy his inner fatso (“Take me out to the ballgame…”), and how to wear a cardigan without looking like an asshole.
So you’re in China right now. Where?
I’m actually in Guangzhou right now sourcing fabrics for the Autumn/Winter ’12 line. I’m there six or seven times a year.
Do you travel a lot for work? Any favorite places to go?
I do travel a lot for work. I also travel to New York and Las Vegas for trade shows a couple of times a year. My factories are three hours outside of Shanghai, so there’s not much to do there, and New York and Vegas aren’t my idea of a good time. So unfortunately, work travel doesn’t end up being fun travel.
How about home? How long have you lived in LA?
I was born and raised in LA and currently live downtown.
Where are some of your favorite places to eat?
My favorite place to eat is Sugarfish. It’s definitely the best sushi I’ve ever had, and I probably eat there once a week. I also really like Golden State, Rustic Canyon, Hatfield’s and Wurstkuche, and Father’s Office has my favorite burger. I love Mexican food—I’m from LA after all—and El Cholo and Yxta are my favorites.
A “seasonal” favorite is Dodger Stadium. Where else can you eat a CPK pizza, a Carl’s Jr. Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger, cotton candy, garlic fries, a chocolate malt, a red vine rope and Cracker Jacks, and not really look like a pig because you’re there for four hours? Dodger Stadium!
Clearly you’re not one to hold back. Any guilty pleasures?
Nope, I don’t feel guilty about anything I enjoy. Life’s too short.
So do you fall into that stereotype of most people from LA being fitness fanatics?
One day I’ll cave and order P90x but no, I don’t work out. I do play basketball two to three times a week, though. I’m not sure about staying fit, but I think that playing ball keeps me from becoming, ummm, rotund. Or it’s my hybrid Chinese-Jewish genetics.
Do you cook at home very often?
I love cooking. My girlfriend and I cook dinner together most nights. I use my grill pan to make steaks, chicken and fish, and I grill veggies on it. I also love pasta and can make a decent though pretty unhealthy mac and cheese. I don’t really use recipes. My mom is a wonderful cook and taught me how to make things with whatever’s lying around the house—but not the dog. The dog can stay put.
Ha! That’s ironic, considering your current whereabouts. California has so much fresh and local produce year-round—do you take advantage of that? What about seafood?
I definitely hit up farmers markets. There’s even one in Downtown now. The one at the 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica is my favorite, though. For seafood, I’ll go to Santa Monica Seafood for the good stuff but normally, Trader Joe’s does the job.
Do you pay attention to food labels when you cook or eat?
I’ll opt for organic produce or sustainable seafood if it’s available, but I don’t pay too much attention to it. Part of me thinks that sometimes those types of labels are unfortunately just labels.
What’s your drink of choice?
Fruit smoothies. I make one almost every day. Pressed Juicery juices are amazing—way too expensive, but amazing.
What’s in your daily smoothie?
Frozen strawberries and peaches, two bananas, strawberry-banana yogurt (I use Yoplait Light most of the time), milk, orange juice and ice. And if I’m feeling especially reckless, I’ll add some blueberries.
How would you describe your daily uniform?
My daily uniform is a white v-neck, jeans or cargos, and white sneakers. I’ll throw on a navy blazer if it gets really cold, like below 65.
Keeping it simple, then.
I know, very basic. Having to be analytical and critical about clothing and designing a collection so far in advance takes some of the fun out of it. And because of how ephemeral fashion is, I’m constantly thinking about what’s next and new. It’s exhausting. Occupational hazard I guess.
Your autumn collection really speaks to the changing of the seasons, with its tweeds and herringbones and heavier fabrics, which you don’t always associate with LA.
Being from LA, I didn’t even know what a season was until I started designing. I enjoy designing for autumn and winter more though, as I can at least imagine what it must be like to wear jackets and layers and wool pants. But summer is definitely my favorite time of year.
Any tips for how a guy can rock a cardigan?
It’s a great alternative to a jacket, especially in LA where that’s all you really need. And most of the time they’re more comfy too. I have an old wool cable knit cardigan I stole—I mean, borrowed, from my dad that’s probably the warmest item of clothing I own.
What’s the best style advice you’ve received?
I’ve never really received any specific sartorial advice. When I was growing up, as I went through my various style stages— “hip-hop,” and a look I can only describe as “mid-’90s pop singer” were the two most notable—my parents stressed that basically I should just try not to look like an asshole. I think that’s good advice. And actually, that kind of perspective informs my design decisions today.
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