This Dayton-born designer’s stay-at-home fashions are perfect for these times

Now based in L.A., designer Scott Sternberg focuses on cozy sweats

At a time when much of the retail industry is suffering and brick-and-mortar stores are shuttered, fashion designer Scott Sternberg has managed to come up with a clothing collection that’s perfectly suited to our current at-home lifestyle.

The native Daytonian, who now lives in Los Angeles, originally made news with his fashion line, Band of Outsiders. His new company has been featured in Vogue, GQ, and The New York Times. In last week’s Wall Street Journal, columnist Rory Satran cited the designer’s “smashing sweatsuit.”

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Even the name of Sternberg’s company — Entireworld — is especially fitting at the moment. He chose it — before the virus had taken over our lives — to demonstrate how interconnected the world is and how much we need to rely on each other.

We chatted about his recent success and his growing-up years in Dayton.

Q: Tell us about your new company and how it differs from your first fashion line.

A: We make what I like to call "the stuff you live in" — sweats, socks, undies, tees, button ups — which are generally a lot more casual and easy than the tailored products we made at Band. The fit of Entireworld is generally easier as well: lots of oversized styles, especially for men, and the focus of the fabric is color and comfort.

We work with fabric mills and factories in Japan, Italy, Korea, and China and most of our fabric is developed in-house. Entireworld has a strong focus on sustainability — over 80 percent of our fabrics are made from organic or recycled yarns. Our collection is about basics that aren’t driven by trend and can live in your closet for years.

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I started Band of Outsiders in 2004 making just shirts and ties. I sold them to super fancy stores right off the bat; I had really hit on what was an emerging trend, the return of preppy, and was lucky enough to ride that to early success. Those clothes were relatively expensive: $250 shirts, $125 ties, eventually $2,000-plus suits. They were all made with luxurious fabrics at small factories in the U.S. and Italy. Entireworld is a direct-to-consumer brand, meaning most of our sales are through our website only. This allows us to sell quality clothes at competitive prices.

For Band of Outsiders, I photographed all of our seasonal campaigns on an old Polaroid camera myself, and the campaigns and clothes attracted a cult following among a great young group of actors and musicians. I photographed people like Kirsten Dunst, Frank Ocean, Amy Adams, Donald Glover, Michelle Williams, Josh Brolin, Greta Gerwig, Sarah Silverman, Aziz Ansari, Jason Schwartzman, Spike Jonze and Max Minghella. I’ve shot many of them on video for Entireworld.

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Q: Why is it a good time for the kinds of clothing you’re now designing?

A: We're about cozy, comfy, colorful clothes — clothes that not only look great, but make you feel good when you wear them — and I think that's particularly important right now. Our bright, monotone sweatsuits have always been a best seller, and have become the de-facto uniform for a certain type of person in LA and New York during the quarantine. The color in particular is so happy and optimistic, it feels right for the time and makes for a great Instagram post.

Q: How do you create a design, what’s the process?

A: At Band of Outsiders, I designed relatively large seasonal collections that we showed at New York fashion week with runway shows or elaborate presentations. At Entireworld, it's more of a continuum. There's a constant set of codes and cultural references — French New Wave films of the '60s, artists like David Hockney, '80s brands like Benetton and Polo. I look to brands like Hanes and Champion that are experts in what they do and have become part of so many people's lives and closets for decades, and think about Entireworld carrying that torch for a new generation, with our own voice and in our own particular way.

Q: Tell us about your Dayton history.

A: I grew up north of town near Shiloh Park. I was a Gloria Dei Montessori kid through sixth grade, which was incredibly formative and which I credit for my creative process, my independence and self-starting nature, my ability to learn new skills and concepts, my respect for nature and animals, and my curiosity. I really loved it so much.

I attended Northmont for a few years and then spent my last two years of high school at Hillel Academy. Being a yet-to-come-out gay kid at Northmont in the ’80s was not fun, to say the least — kind of the cliche bullying story.

My parents still live in Kettering. My father, Marc, is a dentist who still practices; my mother, Maureen, is a part-time yenta, part-time William Sonoma associate, part-time real estate agent, and part-time Midwest PR agent for Entireworld.

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Q: How did you become interested in fashion? 

A: My parents have incredible taste. We grew up living in a Ralph Lauren world, which partially informs my personal style to this day. We also spent a lot of time shopping — at Elder-Beerman, where they had an incredible Polo shop, at Saks in Cincinnati, and eventually at the outlets.

There was a CNN show in the ’80s called “Style with Elsa Klensch,” plus “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous with Robin Leach.” These shows were my first exposure to the rarefied world “Fashion” with a capital F — the industry, high fashion, runway, all of that stuff. I would read my dad’s magazines — Vanity Fair and GQ — which were like candy to me.

Q: If you didn’t officially study fashion, how did you know how to design? 

A: Design is really a process of communicating and realizing ideas under a certain set of codes and restraints, more than a specific skill or trade you learn in school. It certainly helps to be able to sketch, and it's important to understand basic apparel construction and speak the vernacular of fabric and production so that you can communicate with the people who are actually making the clothes, but none of that really requires school or training in my opinion. The most important thing in fashion design is to have a clear, distinctive, idiosyncratic point of view that is unique amongst the market.

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I basically just decided I wanted to design clothes and started doing it. I had been an agent at CAA, the mega talent agency in LA, focused on digital media. It was a cool job but I didn’t want to represent talent — I wanted to be the talent. And I was clear that I wanted to make things, and have my own brand that would be a platform for me to share and communicate ideas through photography and film. I started making shirts and ties from vintage fabric here in LA, teaching myself and working with a few factories who were patient and helped me learn the basics.

Q: What are the challenges of your profession?

A: Having a small business is really, really hard, especially when you make products — financing, managing staff, overseeing production and quality, ensuring good customer service. It's a never-ending series of battles and fires to put out. The most challenging part these days is marketing — finding new customers in a time when traditional media outlets are struggling and can't help you get the word out like they used to. But it's also very gratifying and a lot of fun.

Q: How is the current virus affecting you and your work?

A: Fitting the samples is challenging, but I'm stepping in as the men's fit model, which helps. We've adjusted pretty well, to the point that I'm not sure we'll go back to being in the office every day. I kind of like this!

Otherwise, the biggest challenge is convincing our investors to stick with us, as there’s so much uncertainty. The good news is that our business is better than ever. Our sales have increased since the virus hit and we’re getting more attention in the media than ever. I think our message and voice, and certainly our cozy and comfy product is just perfect for this moment.

Personally, I’m spending a lot of quality time with my dog, General Zod. We live in the Silver Lake hills on the east side of Los Angeles. It’s really beautiful and quite serene during the quarantine — less cars, less smog, less noise.

Q: Do you come back to Dayton?

A: I do come back to Dayton; I love visiting my folks. I am a creature of habit and we do the same things every time. Mom and I always hit my favorite antique mall in Springfield called Heart of Ohio, and sometimes we visit Lebanon, where I love Miller's Antiques and Village Ice Cream Parlor. My favorite places to eat are Roost, The Oakwood Club, Old Hickory, and I particularly love Treasure Island — the atmosphere, the waitresses and the crackers are the best. We usually see a movie at The Neon, which is as good as any art-house movie theater out here in LA.

Q: What do you hope the clothes you create will do for your customers?

A: I want to make you feel and look good, allow you to leave the house in a sweatshirt or T-shirt that's kinda chic and cool but still easy, and to live in undies and socks that are just as special as anything else you wear.

Where to Shop:

Scott Sternberg's fashion line, Entireworld, can be found at www.

Prices range from $15 for organic cotton socks and undies to $125 for men’s pleated trousers. Sweatshirts and sweatpants are $88; T-shirts are $32-$35.

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