After over a decade in the fashion industry as one of its most sought-after male models, Garrett Neff took his insider knowledge of the business from both sides of the lens and paired it with the inspiration of the active outdoor lifestyle he loved growing up in the Northeast to create the luxury lifestyle brand KATAMA in 2015.
Since its launch, KATAMA has become a true summer staple among bold-faced names all over the world, with pieces gracing the international pages of Esquire, L’Officiel Hommes, Vogue, Daily Front Row and W, to name a few.
Inspired by the Massachusetts coast, where Neff would spend summers with his family, the luxury lifestyle brand is rooted in the casual cool of the North Atlantic and its many outdoor adventures. Preppy, athletic, classic, and retro, KATAMA offers essentials for any wardrobe: swim trunks, crew shirts and sweaters, T-shirts, and other styles using technical and time-honored fabrics for a timeless style.
Neff describes his inspiration: “My earliest memories are of a time when I lived in my bathing suit. Every summer in my childhood, I spent those days playing tennis and sailing with my father, strolling the beach with my grandfather, and canoeing, crabbing, and fishing with my uncles and cousins. It was from these men that I developed my sense of style – combining the preppy athleticism of my father, the tailored sharpness of my world-traveling grandfather, and the military functionality of my uncle. This eclectic mix, paired with my own modern styling and attention to detail, forms the backbone of the KATAMA brand. These are clothes you can wear from the beach to the house to the restaurant to the bar — the kind of clothes that just work anywhere during summer.”
While VMAN called it “the swimwear line suited for every style” and it’s a fixture on GQ’s perennial “Best Swim Trunks List,” KATAMA’s overall aesthetic and vibe was summed up best in The Wall Street Journal’s “Unimprovable Awards” which said the then-new line felt “like a legacy brand,” hailing KATAMA’s “wear anywhere bathing suit” as follows: “The thoughtful details and subtle patterns blend Connecticut prep and downtown cool so well that their trunks work anywhere: durable enough to actually surf in but distinguished enough to wear out at night with a linen button-down.”
Vogue agreed, saying, “Given the simplicity and the easiness of these clothes, you’ll likely want to wear them all the way through…this summer or next, or on holiday in-between.”
While the pieces have style to spare, Neff’s mission extends beyond looking good –to doing good. KATAMA regularly releases limited edition capsule collections with 20% donated to charitable organizations including Oceana, the world’s largest NGO dedicated to ocean preservation. These in-demand exclusive collections are often sold in pop-up Airstream trailer tours making stops at some of the Northeast’s toniest beachfront venues including Newport, Provincetown, Southampton, and Montauk.
ABOUT GARRETT NEFF
Delaware native Garrett Neff is a model, designer and entrepreneur. As one of the industry’s most in-demand male models, he’s appeared on the covers of numerous magazines including GQ, Details, VMAN, Vogue Paris, Numéro Homme, and L’Officiel Hommes, and has shot with legends Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel and Peter Lindbergh. Known for his all-American look, he’s walked the runways for Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors and Salvatore Ferragamo, and fronted several Calvin Klein advertising campaigns.
Fashionable. Functional. Timeless. Go Dash Dot is a lifestyle brand synonymous with style, function and luxury. Its versatile collection of sophisticated and highly functional bags — including totes, gym bags, cross bodies, back packs and its signature “puffle,” among other models — is the answer for the modern-day, on-the-go woman. “Our ethos is simple: to create smart, sophisticated bags for the woman who does it all,” says founder Hannah Fastov. “Our collection of bags offers the perfect combination of fashion and function.” Fastov and her team imagined every situation in a woman’s life — work, gym, nightlife, travel — and created bags for each occasion. “The Go Dash Dot woman is active, ambitious, and fun loving,” says Fastov. “One adventure leads to the next and she needs a bag that can keep up with her. We believe you should always carry your independence.”
Go Dash Dot made national headlines in 2020 when it donated the majority of its inventory to frontline healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus. WWD broke the story.
Q&A with Go Dash Dot founder Hannah Fastov
Q: What is Go Dash Dot? Describe the brand?
Hannah: At Go Dash Dot, our ethos is simple: to create smart, sophisticated bags for the woman who does it all. Our collection of bags offers the perfect combination of fashion and function. With a separate compartment for footwear, padded laptop section, a snap in snap out pouch that can be worn as a crossbody or belt bag, laundry pouch, cell phone pocket, tons of additional pockets and compartments, and completely machine washable, we believe you should always carry your independence.
Q: What inspired this idea?
Hannah: Go Dash Dot is the result of my personal quest for the perfect carryall bag. After starting my career in the fashion industry, I realized that if I wanted to work out, go to work, and see friends or family, my day had to start at 6am, end at 10pm, and required a lot of stuff. But I hated having my shoes thrown in my bag next to my lunch, my dirty gym clothes on display, and my water bottle constantly opening in my bag. Based on a survey I took of over 100 women and my personal experiences, Go Dash Dot was born.
Q: Who is the Go Dash Dot customer?
Hannah: The Go Dash Dot woman is active, ambitious, and fun loving. One adventure leads to the next and she needs a bag that can keep up with her.
Q: Where are the products sold? How can you buy?
Q: How do you come up with the products/ styles?
Hannah: My inspiration comes from the major fashion houses. We look for trending silhouettes and fabrications and then redesign them to fit the Go Dash Dot aesthetic –fashionable, functional, yet timeless.
Q: What is the hardest part about starting a brand?
Hannah: The hardest part is brand awareness. We are a small business with limited resources in a competitive market.
Q: When did you realize Go Dash Dot was going to be a success? Was there a moment when you knew?
Hannah: I knew Go Dash Dot was going to work when I saw people reacting to the bags exactly the same way I did when I came up with the concept – immediately understanding the necessity of a bag like ours.
Q: What are some lessons you’ve learned in launching Go Dash Dot?
Hannah: The most important lesson I have learned is to listen to advice and opinions of other to assist in my decision making, but ultimately, the final decision needs to come from me. As a young, female entrepreneur with very little business experience, I often felt overwhelmed and underqualified to be making ‘business decisions.’ But I have learned that no one knows Go Dash Dot better than me and I am smarter than I think.
Q: Where do you see the brand in five years?
Hannah: In five years Go Dash Dot will be a profitable omni channel brand designing functional and fashionable bags for women, men, and children.
Q: Who inspires you?
Hannah: My team! My small but mighty team inspires me to bring my A game to the office every day and together we inspire each other to push Go Dash Dot to be more innovative, more creative, and more connected to our consumers.
Grant McNamara created GPS almost by accident. Three years ago, the Chicago-native was asked by a relative planning a wedding to help dress the groom for his big day. Though experienced in fashion and style, this was a first. It wouldn’t be his last. Grant’s unmistakable style, trained eye, intuitive understanding of color, fabric and wear, and an exquisite aesthetic helped the soon-to-be-husband look and feel his very best. His work that day convinced him there was a market for dressing men on special occasions, and soon he made it a business: Groom’s Personal Stylist (GPS), a “wedding fashion navigator who helps them look perfect before, and on, wedding day with concierge and day-of styling services,” says Grant. “I consult with grooms ahead of the wedding to ensure their outfit is exactly as desired, everything is perfectly coordinated between the groomsmen, bridesmaids and family members. We are the only company dedicated to helping the groom and groomsmen before and after wedding day.”
The business exploded, and so did his company. Grant expanded by styling men for every occasion, whether it be the office, home or social occasions with a new service, “Gentlemen’s Personal Stylist,” which offers men “image consulting, personal development and education” in the art of developing their own style.” Working with both existing wardrobes and new custom clothes he creates, “guys learn about themselves, their personal brands, the gap between how they currently represent themselves and where they want to be, steps to close that gap and how to do it themselves,” Grant says. “It’s a journey of style development, sophistication and fun.”
“We look at the entire picture, and that creates a better, more thorough offering,” Grant continues. Body type, skin tone, profession and aspirations all factor into the process, as well as educating men about the intricacies about style. “
A key piece of GPS is the bespoke experience: creating new clothes for men to add to existing wardrobe.” My niche is geared more towards guys that really care about improving their look/image/style,” he says. “ I have a few guys where we made them suits and they were on their way. Totally fine. But the guys that get the most value out of it are the ones that care a little more.” The process is very involved and personal — Grant works with men on choosing color, fabrics and cuts, making sure every part of the wardrobe reflects not just their life and personality, but their aspirations.
“Style is fun, it is intimate, it is unique. It’s important because it allows people to better understand themselves and how they want to share that with the world,” Grant says.
GPS — both services — has quickly gained a following with men in Chicago as well as the country. “Our clients span all industries, professions and personal styles,” Grant says. ‘They share common values and actions. They are driven. They care. They value quality. They want whatever they’re doing or working on to be successful. They want to show respect for themselves and those around them. They understand what their appearance can do for their confidence, careers, families, intimacy, brand image. Our clients are people that love individuality, being able to stand out and have the confidence to wear whatever they’re comfortable in.”
And helping them find that confidence is Grant, whose own style is constantly evolving. “ It reflects what I’m working on, what I want to portray to the world and what I’m feeling,” he says. “I don’t like being boxed into a certain style. I think clothiers that wear a suit and tie everyday are boring and don’t have real style. Just because you wear a nice-fitting suit everyday doesn’t mean you’re stylish. It means you wear nice-fitting suits. Style to me is more than the clothes you wear; it’s about how and why you’re wearing them. It’s how you make those nice-fitting suits unique and you.”
He would know. A former model, Grant was exposed to the fashion industry early and threw himself into the details. “I ate it up,” he admits. “I started reading more on style, especially European style. I spent time with my tailor watching them do alterations. I went to fabric stores and spoke with reps from mills to better understand fabrics and draping.” The experience helped him create a look of his own. “It wasn’t until managing that first custom clothier that I started to really understand my own style, how I wanted to dress and feel, and that I wanted to help others feel that way too.”
Out of that came GPS, a brand “guys could look at and say, ‘Man, he just gets it. That’s who I want helping me.’ t’s knowing who you are, being yourself, and creating something that helps you reach their goal. Those goals may be personal, professional, romantic. It doesn’t matter what it is exactly. Style can help anyone become the person they want to be.”
Q&A With Grant McNamara
Q: What is GPS?
Grant: Gentleman’s Personal Stylist is a luxury custom clothing and personal styling brand that helps men navigate their style, images and lives while having fun. We help guys to look and feel their best so they can go out and conquer anything. It’s image consulting, personal development and education. Guys learn about themselves, their personal brands, the gap between how they currently represent themselves and where they want to be, steps to close that gap and how to do it themselves. A journey of personal development, style development, sophistication and fun.
Groom’s Personal Stylist is the groom’s wedding fashion navigator, helping them look perfect before, and on, wedding day with concierge and day-of styling services. We consult with grooms ahead of the wedding to ensure their outfit is exactly as desired, everything is perfectly coordinated between the groomsmen, bridesmaids and family members. We are the only company dedicated to helping the groom and groomsmen before and after wedding day.
Q: What is your personal style?
Grant: My personal style is always evolving, just like me. My style reflects what I’m working on, what I want to portray to the world and what I’m feeling. I don’t like being boxed into a certain style. I think clothiers that wear a suit and tie everyday are boring and don’t have real style. Just because you wear a nice-fitting suit everyday doesn’t mean you’re stylish. It means you wear nice-fitting suits. Style to me is more than the clothes you wear; it’s about how and why you’re wearing them. It’s how you make those nice-fitting suits unique and you.
Right now, my style often mixes menswear and streetwear. Mostly, it’s simplistic and sophisticated. Denim, some sort of t-shirt, and a sports jacket or outerwear. Finish it off with beautiful shoes, some jewelry and a hat if I don’t feel like doing my hair that day. It’s whatever I feel. It’s fun. I prefer being different and putting together combinations that don’t necessarily go together, and making it work for me. Why can’t a nice suit be paired with a great T or comfortable henley?
Q: Who is the GPS customer?
Grant: While GPS clients span all industries, professions and personal styles, they share common values and actions. They are driven. They care. They value quality. They want whatever they’re doing or working on to be successful. They want to show respect for themselves and those around them. They understand what their appearance can do for their confidence, careers, families, intimacy, brand image. It can be a guy that’s never had any custom clothing or styling services before but wants to learn. It can be someone already seen as stylish that wants to hone-in their understanding of style to expand on it, to create or find new pieces that take their wardrobe from great to extraordinary. Our clients are people that love individuality, being able to stand out and have the confidence to wear whatever they’re comfortable in.
The brides that book Wedding GPS know that only we can bring their vision of their groom’s (and his groomsmen’s) appearance to reality. Our grooms are clients that want to ensure they look and feel their absolute best, most confident version of themselves, on the most important day of their life. They want to show their loved one they respect that day, everything it means, everything it signifies, as much as they do.
Q: What inspired GPS?
Grant: I wanted to create a brand that guys could look at and say, “Man, he just gets it. That’s who I want helping me.” There’s no one in Chicago offering this level of luxury custom, that also does personal styling, and no personal stylists that offer this level of custom. I wanted to be a clothier doing it differently. It’s so much more than just custom.
Wedding GPS was created because women really do get all the love and attention for weddings, but the guys do care about it too. Guys are becoming more involved in the wedding process, especially around what they wear. And I’m truly an expert on groom’s attire, and I wanted to share that in a new business model.
I’ve witnessed up close how numerous clothiers in Chicago alone just don’t get it. They’re either uptight, boring, arrogant, lacking in quality, don’t understand overall style, or just didn’t run their business in a way that resonated with my beliefs. I wanted GPS to stand out from all those.
Also, I want to create a dominant brand and business. I want to provide an amazing life for my family and friends. I want to live what I preach. I want to be able to give back in a meaningful way.
Q: Why is style important?
Grant: First and foremost, and for better or worse, people make decisions on others based on appearance. Style shows respect for oneself and others.
Style is fun, it is intimate, it is unique. It’s important because it allows people to better understand themselves and how they want to share that with the world. It’s knowing who you are, being yourself, and creating something that helps you reach their goal. Those goals may be personal, professional, romantic. It doesn’t matter what it is exactly. Style can help anyone become the person they want to be.
Q: How do you market to men?
Grant: For Wedding GPS, we work on creating relationships through top-tier wedding/event planners. We have some solid relationships in Chicago, and those planners regularly send their clients to us. Working on expanding that to top planners in other markets: New York, Boston, LA, Atlanta, Houston, San Fran, and D.C. We actually focus on attracting brides and planners more than grooms.
When we do day-of styling for a wedding with a new planner, we 100% of the time get a new wedding from them. Working with a planner that does celebrity/pro athlete weddings is huge for the wedding marketing world. Everyone looks to these planners and vendors while planning their own weddings.
The message we’re pushing a little more on the wedding side is, just because couples are doing smaller, more intimate weddings because of the pandemic, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t dress up. If anything, with all the money they’re saving not throwing a huge wedding, spending extra on beautiful clothing is worthwhile.
For GPS, word-of-mouth has been the dominant marketing tactic, until now. Our clients are the best marketers. Now, it’s going to become largely focused on the SEO work I’ve been doing and building the brand up as a lifestyle leader. Articles with Modern Luxury are great. New photoshoots are always great.
The messaging is tailored to whomever I’m speaking with, but always ends up some variation of our clothes are the best, my advice is the best, I’m a ton of fun to work together, we’ll probably end up being good friends. And that is true, I’ve created some close relationships with many clients. We see each other often, and it’s much more than business. For the guys that don’t care about that, I tell them about the quality. I show them the quality. If it’s a quality thing, GPS fairs quite well in getting the business. If it’s a style thing, I talk to them about how I can look at their entire wardrobes, create or find anything, and really help them have a full game plan on what steps to take. No one else does that.
Q: What are essentials every man should have in their wardrobe?
Grant: I do believe this answer changes based on a few factors like culture, profession, individual preferences, but that there are also some pieces that most men would benefit from. Neutral staples are key to any great wardrobe. It starts with a perfectly fitted pair of jeans. A perfect T-shirt or henley. One great button down in a color that’s best for their skin tone. One suit that can be worn as separates. A great outerwear piece. A great pair of shoes. An accessory. If you live in a region with cool temperatures, a grey flannel trouser is also great.
Q: How do you source materials for the custom program?
Grant: I work with my favorite mills to curate a selection of fabrics I believe GPS clients will love. I regularly am checking in with my reps from these mills to see if there’s anything new I should be aware of or if they can direct me to a specific fabric I have in mind.
Q: What is the “American” style, or do we have one?
Grant: I don’t believe there’s a set American style, or at least I don’t believe it’s anything good. I believe, currently, it’s combination of bad style and lack of education, lack of care, lack of identity. It’s big and boxy suits with big shoulder pads. It’s people that don’t understand a pleat or a cuff. It’s thinking big clown shoes are ok. It’s thinking athleisure is acceptable all the time. It’s not caring enough about dressing as a means of showing respect. I would love to create a new American style that mixes menswear, streetwear, and shows men it’s ok to dress up and care about what they wear. And things like pleats, cuffs, peak lapels – fun stuff – are great and acceptable and cool, and can even be casual. I’d love the day where I was out and someone didn’t say, “Oh, you dress very European!”
Q: Describe the journey in starting GPS?
Grant: My aunt is an event/party planner (from a young age, I’d get to help her out at weddings, usually setting up (and eating things from) the sweet table, so I’ve been around weddings for a long time) and she asked me to help dress a groom of hers back in August of 2017. I had just come up with this notion that I could help grooms get dressed on wedding day. There are a dozen “dressers” that will show up and help the bride/her bridesmaids get ready, but no one was doing it just for the guys. Past clients of mine at the first clothier I managed had asked me to come tie the bow ties at their wedding, so this was familiar territory.
I showed up at the August wedding at the Ritz-Carlton, steamer in hand, and introduced myself to the groom and groomsmen. They definitely were like, who is this guy and what’s he doing here? By the end of the day, before the ceremony, the guys loved that I was there, thankful that they had someone looking out for them. Before I left, the groom thanked me, told me what an awesome service it was and that every groom should have me at their wedding. That was when I decided I was really going to go for it.
I booked a few more weddings for the rest of 2017. Early in 2018 I met a few planners and knew that was the route to take – instead of marketing directly towards brides and grooms, I’d market to all the planners. I figured people hiring the top- and middle-level planners would also have the budget to spend on Wedding GPS (came up with that name while eating/after a few drinks at a Mexican restaurant with a buddy), and people trust their planners’ recommendations. I booked 17 weddings in 2018 and continued to create new relationships with vendors. I also started to partner with custom clothiers and do pop-up shops in their stores to cross promote each other. They’d get a wedding expert to help their grooms, and I’d have a space to design custom clothes for clients and offer them added value. I did that up until March 2019, when I fully accepted my need to dress more than just grooms, and that I wanted to run my own clothing company different than so many currently do. I recognized that all clothiers in Chicago, really just think about menswear and nothing else. They’ll make you a pretty suit (most of the time), but they don’t consider the client’s entire wardrobe, and wouldn’t know what to do if they did. I love styling, I think it is seriously undervalued/underutilized in the U.S. and Chicago. I wanted to provide beautiful custom clothing, and great personal styling advice, not just one or the other and not to just grooms. So I switched the “G” to “Gentleman’s” and the next GPS journey began.
Aside from the more than 30 weddings in 2019 (I hired another couple stylist to help), I started to dress a lot of guys, almost entirely word-of-mouth. Started to work with Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bears and Milwaukee Bucks players, and was being introduced to more athletes and teams pretty quickly. We were doing great business going into 2020, with more than 30 weddings already booked, expected to do around 50 by year’s end.
Then pandemic, and everything comes to a halt, all weddings rescheduled and no one buying clothing. Entire novel on this alone, but while it does suck, I do believe it will be a defining, critical moment for the brand and business moving forward.
Q: What is your differential from other brands/ stylists? What do you do this is unique? What is your niche?
Grant: We are custom clothiers that are personal stylists, and personal stylists that are custom clothiers, not one or the other. We look at the entire picture, and that creates a better, more thorough offering. The way we understand clients is different than most clothiers. We don’t try to put 10 people in the same blue suit (yes, places do this), we try to put 10 people in 10 different suits that make sense for their body, skin tone, aesthetic, profession, where they want to be, etc. There isn’t enough of that going on in custom. And stylists aren’t used nearly enough, so it’s educating guys on what styling really is, and helping them understand the value of having us look at their closet. You see their face realize how much it makes sense for the person making them custom clothing to look at everything they have. Few guys are wearing suits or jackets everyday. As a stylist, I understand how they can seamlessly incorporate new pieces into their wardrobe. It’s just a more comprehensive offering, and it creates a more comprehensive relationship. We become close with our clients because we get to know them better.
So on the custom and styling side, our niche is geared more towards guys that really care about improving their look/image/style. We have a few guys where we made them suits and they were on their way. Totally fine. But the guys that get the most value out of it are the ones that care a little more. On the wedding side, we’ve carved out quite a niche with helping guys on wedding day.
There’s no one helping grooms and groomsmen in the country like we are. No clothiers are at the weddings, seeing how garments are used and function in action. No stylists are at weddings. Grooms and groomsmen are left standing in front of a mirror watching videos on how to tie ties and bow ties, or how to fold pocket squares. If a button falls off, they have to shrug it off and leave it. But with us there, the guys look great, everything is taken care of, and we keep everyone on time…and mostly not too drunk.
Q: Where did you learn style?
Grant: I’ve always cared about presentation and appearance. My mom made my brothers and I iron our clothes before we could leave the house, so she really instilled in us the importance of looking nice. I really began to care about the clothes I wore in a different sense, more of trying to understand my style, when I was around 20/21, and really when I started my first job out of university. Then, through a series of cool opportunities and introductions, and winning a modeling search contest, I got more into the fashion and style world and ate it up. I started reading more on style, especially European style and the art of tailoring. I started reading the Rake and loved everything about it. It wasn’t until managing that first custom clothier that I started to really understand my own style, how I wanted to dress and feel, and that I wanted to help others feel that way too. I watched youtube videos on how to sew buttons and do a hem, I spent time with my tailor watching them do alterations. I went to fabric stores and spoke with reps from mills to better understand fabrics and draping.
“Always elegant but sometimes impertinent. Traditional and yet Audacious. Quirky but not frivolous, eccentric but always refined. Often ironic but never facetious. Colorful but not garish. Resolutely French yet always positive. Rooted in its values but always modern. Confident but never nonchalant.” Vicomte A is French luxury ready-to-wear brand that redefines artistic luxury with a devilish humor. With 300 locations across the globe, including Paris, St-Tropez, Deauville, Dubai and Tokyo, it has become the uniform of choice for the casual elite.