Hooman Majd carries himself with effortless poise and grace. There’s a distinct method and confidence to the way he moves and talks. He doesn’t waste words and his comments never come off like arbitrary statements that randomly popped into his head. The same applies for his personal style. When we met Hooman, he was dressed like a perfect gentleman: pleated and cuffed grey trousers, polished Alden shoes and a well-tailored Black Watch Tartan blazer.
Hooman was born in Tehran to a diplomat father, and throughout his life, he has traveled extensively and worked in several unique careers. He was once a top music industry executive, he’s produced films and he’s also a best selling author & analyst covering mostly political and foreign policy affairs. He presently resides in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where he also runs a style website called The House of Majd. It’s a beautifully photographed personal diary of sorts which deals with the various facets of his much-lauded, classicist-rooted style.
We had a wonderful chat with Hooman about the basic fundamentals of his style and other matters relating to his hugely interesting life.
Can you tell us about House of Majd? How did the site come about, what’s the style philosophy behind it and what void are you trying to fill with it?
My partner in the site, Ken Browar, came up with the idea. He thought that since I seemed to have a style profile out there, why not start a blog and see where it takes us? As a photographer he could provide the images, and as a writer as well as a style snob, if you will, I could provide words. The philosophy is simple: style isn’t about money, it isn’t about fashion; it’s about individual choices that somehow just work. I think by not making it a commercial site, we’ve managed to just bring some more clarity to the men’s style world…
You seem to be a true fan of menswear classics and a believer in custom/bespoke clothing – are we correct in this assessment?
Indeed. While I think there’s always a place for fashion, classics are not only beautiful but always stylish. Has anyone ever thought Cary Grant, or Fred Astaire or Steve McQueen, weren’t ‘fashionable’ enough? They wore classics, but wore them well. Bespoke clothing is wonderful, if one can afford it—and fits that “classic” label. However, these days there are very good alternatives to bespoke that are far more affordable. I still believe if one has the means, one should always go to a tailor.
A man’s wardrobe and style tends to change as he goes through different phases of adulthood – have you noticed distinct shifts in your own style?
Naturally, but mostly in wardrobe, though, and not necessarily in style. In college I wore army surplus khakis (you could still buy them then) and plain dress shirts, mostly as a reaction to the campus uniform of jeans (flared back then) and t-shirts….and I still wear that combination sometimes. When I was in the music business I wore bespoke suits, mostly as a reaction to the industry uniform of jeans and sneakers. I still wear those suits. But I’ve also discovered items that I like over the years, and as a writer who works from home, I have the freedom to wear whatever I like—so I’m more fond of Levis 501s these days than I ever was (although I’ve always owned at least a pair). Plus, I live in Brooklyn, where denim is king, and I can’t say I’m not influenced by that at all.
You’re well-traveled, and you’ve lived in many different cities all over the world. In your opinion, what city in the world has the best style? Which city has influenced your personal style the most?
It’s hard to say, for different cities have different feelings. Obviously Rome, Milan and pretty much every Italian city seem to have citizens attuned to style—sometimes forced, but there are stylish men and women in droves. Paris is slightly different, but very stylish. London has always been stylish—these days I feel that outside of Saville Row and traditionalists, it tries a bit too hard to be American. And of course there’s NY—in my opinion with it’s diversity of style, to me probably the most stylish city in the world.
In the hierarchy of men’s accessories, watches are certainly in the top 5. Can you tell us about your own vintage timepiece(s) and the relevance they have to you?
I have a 1957 Omega Seamaster that was sold in NY in the same month and year that I was born. I wear it most—probably because as long as it’s ticking on my wrist I feel I’ll be ticking too. But I have a military Omega from the 40’s that I picked up for hardly anything in Tehran, and Gruen Curvex dress watch that also cost less than $200. I used to own expensive watches, but that’s not a hobby a writer can afford. Not unless you’re Dan Brown or someone like that.
What staple pieces/accessories would we find in your wardrobe at any given time?
French cuff spread collar white shirt (I still have a couple left from the days when I could afford to Charvet make them), a pair of Levis 501s (the US-made ones, from LVC), and Alden Cordovan shoes. Plus, of course, a year-round weight, charcoal three piece suit and a black knit tie. You can live forever with just those things.
Your beard and hair are always kept immaculately – can you share some of your personal grooming rituals with us?
I used to shave in the shower—but my personal grooming ritual now is that I don’t really have one. The beard I trim with a clipper whenever I feel like it, and I get a haircut whenever I think I need to—usually every two months. I do use shea butter in my hair, since it’s very thick and unruly and I also need a good stiff brush to get it to behave. Which it doesn’t always do.
There are a sea of menswear brands out there (both heritage and newer ones) – what are some brands that you consistently go back to time and time again?
Well, I keep mentioning them, but Levis certainly, and also brands like Alden shoes and Redwing boots. Newer (but not that new) Bill’s Khakis, who make a terrific pair of khakis. Brooks Brothers for many things including their button-down shirts, and there’s always Edward Green shoes, Charvet shirts and Filson for luggage. I do also like Sleepy Jones—a new company that makes great underwear and pajamas. For leather jackets and coats (and I think horsehide is best), Lost Worlds right here in NYC or Aero in Scotland.
Tell us a little bit about your newest book and what it’s about?
It’s called “The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay”—a memoir of sorts, from the time in 2011 when I decided to move with my family to Tehran for a year. It’s also about identity, and the sense of home—as an immigrant who never had roots anywhere in particular, it is very much about my trying to get a sense of what qualifies as “home”. I hope that can resonate with readers.
You’ve worked in several fields – music, producing films, author, socio-political expert/consultant etc . What field of work have you enjoyed the most?
I’ve enjoyed them all, in different ways. But I’d probably have to say I most enjoy writing books.
With a world in constant flux and things moving so fast nowadays, what keeps you calm, grounded and sane in your everyday life?
I’m not sure I’m completely sane—nor even grounded. But reading a great story—short fiction or a book, sometimes even a great article, keeps me going. And then there’s having a three year-old in my life.
Lastly what’s exciting projects are coming up for the House of Majd in 2014? Collaborations, special style editorials – please share ….
Collaborations, definitely. I can’t say with whom yet, but we’ll be announcing something early in 2014. We haven’t decided about any special editorials, but that’s a possibility. We will also populate the store more, and perhaps not just with collaborations!
Get a glimpse into Hooman’s world at www.thehouseofmajd.com