Inspired: John Mayer
Inspired: John Mayer
- Words Asaf Rotman
- Date November 2, 2020
Plenty of musicians are well recognized for their style. For some it is even a defining characteristic. When it comes to John Mayer, however, his relationship with clothing is something far greater. While today nearly every successful artist partners with a fashion label and celebrity-adjacent sneaker collaborations are commonplace, Mayer’s commitment to his own personal style—and the niche brands that comprise it—is bar none.
An equal opportunity shopper as obsessed with Japanese Americana as he is with techwear, Mayer’s style bonafides are well documented, earning him praise in glossy magazines and amongst menswear enthusiasts. But, when it comes to Mayer’s style, it is not simply what he wears, how he wears it, or even how much he buys—it’s the sheer enthusiasm with which he does so. An obsessive collector (to put it mildly), once Mayer discovers a brand or category he goes all in, learning all there is to know and purchasing every piece he can get his hands on. Even more interesting, unlike other artists whose personal style is a reflection of their craft, for Mayer, his style is almost wholly unrelated to the music he makes, a separate but equal passion which today composes a massive portion of his public persona.
As anyone that follows Mayer on Instagram can attest, fashion—and more so gear in general—plays a significant role in his day-to-day life. From co-signing sneaker collabs to hosting designers on his IGTV talk show Current Mood, there are undoubtedly people who are more familiar with the man for his Goros collection than his soft-rock love ballads or legendary guitar chops.
Yet, it wasn’t always this way.
For nearly a decade Mayer was quietly in the background, scooping up rare jawnz that only the nerdiest of menswear fans were aware of. In the early-2000s, Mayer was famous for one thing: his music. While he achieved minor success with his 2001 debut Room for Squares, it was his 2003 breakthrough, Heavier Things that propelled the soft rock singer into super-stardom. Starring the award-winning and record breaking hit Daughters, Mayer instantly entered heartthrob territory and became an immediate sex symbol. Yet, his traditional good looks, “coffee shop” sound and rotation of model, singer and actress girlfriends obscured a prodigious talent. Not only one of the world’s great guitar players, Mayer has an eye for tasteful design and began amassing impressive items early in his career. Beyond a simple collector, Mayer’s passion for material possessions goes from the expected—vintage Fender stratocasters—to the wildly niche and unheard of.
Though Mayer kept his clothing obsession relatively under wraps until the past few years, in 2013 the musician was outed as an avid vintage Swiss watch collector courtesy of the viral first episode of Hodinkee magazine’s flagship video series, “Talking Watches”. Not only a guest, but a frequent contributor to the site, Mayer flexed his savant-level watch knowledge and through images and subtle references, his habit for fervently hoarding was quickly apparent. For menswear fans, something else stood out in the video (apart from Mayer’s bonkers multi-million dollar watch collection): a perfectly faded military jacket featuring a peace sign patch. Though relatively unassuming, real menswear heads instantly recognized the jacket as a highly sought-after Visvim Kilgore in indigo. Mayer’s obsession with the Japanese label was no longer a secret.
Initially introduced to Visvim through a mutual friend while on vacation in Japan, Mayer instantly became a fan. Following some additional prodding by other noted Visvim die-hard Eric Claption and an introduction to designer Hiroki Nakamura courtesy of one Hiroshi Fujiwara, and Mayer was hooked. As early as 2005 Mayer began purchasing quite literally every piece he could get his hands on, with rumors floating he eventually began buying two of not only every production piece, but two of every sample as well. By the time he graced the cover of 2013’s Paradise Valley in head-to-toe Visvim (including a rare blanket as a makeshift shawl), Mayer’s Visvim god status was cemented.
Of course, like any other menswear enthusiast, Mayer’s interests don’t stop there. Yes, he primarily collects Visvim, but over the past 15 years the artist naturally explored other aspects of menswear, ranging from neighboring Japanese streetwear brands like Neighborhood and, more recently, [Kapital](∫https://www.grailed.com/designers/kapital) to stateside musts like Supreme, Jordans and somewhat surprisingly, Fear of God (Jerry Lorenzo is now a close friend). For years, this subtle mix of Japanese Americana and streetwear defined Mayer’s day-to-day wardrobe, a mix of luxe blue jeans, fringed boots, and robes donned over an ever-growing collection of graphic T-shirts. Still, despite having his daily rotation essentially locked in, Mayer was never afraid to push boundaries and explore darker corners of the menswear universe.
Another close friend, for instance, is entirely unrelated to the realm of streetwear, but arguably still as hyped as the rest: Errolson Hugh. Since 2008, back when Hugh’s label Acronym was barely a whisper on internet forums, Mayer has fervently sought out just about every jacket, bag, pant and sneaker the cult-techwear label has ever made. One of the original members of “sub-net”—the online-exclusive Acronym community who receives early access to seasonal collections—Mayer became a fan the first time he stumbled upon the brand while traveling, well before him and Hugh became so well acquainted.
Today if Mayer isn’t flexing his insane Visvim archive, it’s likely some futuristic head-to-toe Acronym fit that he’s posting to the timeline. Like any noted fan, Hugh’s other endeavors—Stone Island Shadow Project and the now defunct NikeLab ACG—are also in heavy rotation. It’s Hugh, in fact, who enabled Mayer to formally collaborate with a clothing brand for the first time. Despite such a notorious wardrobe and a large audience, Mayer never officially worked with any of the brands he so loudly champions, seemingly preferring his role as noted consumer. Yet, in 2018, Hugh and Nike suggested that the Mayer help score and store in a 90-second short film and ad campaign for Acronym’s (at the time) latest Nike sneaker collaboration, the Nike Air Vapormax Moc 2. Featuring a chevron knit upper, the shoes were already a big hit amongst Acronym fans, but seeing billboards of Mayer clad in a mix of Western-theme Visvim and Acronym pants alongside the silhouette took things to the next level. Mayer was finally having his menswear moment.
His star (fashion-wise) only rose from there. In 2015, Mayer joined the surviving members of The Grateful Dead to form the forever-touring tribute band Dead & Co. By 2018, with the explosion of Online Ceramics and DIY-streetwear, Mayer was the de facto head of the movement, breaking ground on the latest Dead-inspired fashion and one of the sun-drenched hallucinogenic aesthetics largest proponents. When Mayer tie-dyed an ultra-rare Supreme x Louis Vuitton box logo and wore it on stage it was official: The “Dead” look had gone mainstream, and Mayer was at the forefront.
While many artists would—by this point—pivot and launch their own brand or attempt to secure a sneaker collaboration—which Mayer easily could—even now, the musician prefers to work outside the system, producing his own merch and developing his own “Air Mayer,” a NikeID custom he created and subsequently bought out before reselling them on his own e-store. Most interestingly, though, Mayer seems to defy limits, wearing Nike Air Fear of God 1s with Acronym bottoms and Visvim indigo robes with a quarter million dollar watch on his wrist while somehow looking entirely natural. Admittedly, his good looks, fame and unabashed charisma helps, but without a doubt the best aspect of Mayer’s style is that he is entirely unafraid to take risks. Price tag of his gear notwithstanding Mayer knows his lane and goes for it. Whether he is stanced up on IG or simply wearing blue jeans and an albeit insanely expensive white tee, Mayer continues to deliver. As far as moden style icons, we’re lucky to have him.
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