Michael Strahan is a true New York icon. We had the pleasure to chat with him about his new athleisure line, MSX by Michael Strahan; where we can see him next; and how he remains on top. We also caught up with Stuart Billingham, JCPenney Creative Director for Men's Private Label for more on the collection.
ATHLEISURE MAG: - Stylish active lifestyle sounds like a great ethos for you, you’re always looking good on-the-go – what’s an average day like for you?
MICHAEL STRAHAN: There really isn’t an “average day” for me. Every day is so different, especially during different seasons. For example, during football season, I’m traveling from New York to Los Angeles for NFL on FOX. On days that I’m on Good Morning America, I wake up around 5:30am. My afternoons are always different. Sometimes I’m taking meetings with my management and production company, SMAC Entertainment and other times I’m doing activities that I enjoy, like playing golf! I’ve been spending a lot time working on my athleisure line MSX and my clothing line Collection by Michael Strahan.
AM: When did you first decide to jump into a companion line for Collection by Michael Strahan?
MS: I had a lot of fun creating Collection by Michael Strahan with JCPenney and I realized that in addition to great tailored pieces, men also need comfortable, stylish clothes that can be worn anytime. MSX by Michael Strahan is inspired by my active lifestyle and provides men trendy, functional pieces that can be worn everywhere. I call it my EveryWEAR for everywhere. And best of all, it's all priced for a great value. I'm really excited to be part of what's happening in the overall athleisure movement and I'm excited for the future of MSX.
AM: Why do you think athleisure wear has become such a movement?
MS: The way people are living these days has changed. People are on the go much more than ever before. Wearing a comfortable, yet stylish tee and pants is not for lounging, it's for living! To be able to go throughout your day and not feel over or underdressed in any situation is crucial and that's where athleisure comes in.
AM: “Everywear for everywhere,” that’s catchy, what assortment does MSX currently offer?
MS: The line offers a wide range of clothes for every part of life. The chino pants are one of my personal favorites because they can easily go from the office to the golf course. Also the Henley three button shirts, the v necks and an assortment of short options.
AM: What is it about MSX by Michael Strahan that makes it optimal for workouts and tackling tasks of the day after the studio/gym?
MS: The breathable fabrics are made to keep you cool and comfortable all day, when they are paired with the no-chafe stitching you’ll stay comfortable the entire day.
AM: Style, comfort and performance are key for activewear, what advanced technology and comfort features does MSX by Michael Strahan have?
MS: Every piece in the line has hidden details. We have the no-chafe seam details to keep you comfortable while you are moving or the UV protection so you will be protected all day long. My favorite details are the secret pockets. For example, I’m a golfer so I wanted the chino pants to looks stylish, yet be functional. We kept the left back pocket open so you can easily slip in your golf glove between swings and included a zipper on the right back pocket to keep valuables like wallet and phone.
AM: What are some of your must-haves that you keep in your secret pockets?
MS: I keep all the essentials in my pockets - money clip, keys, and sometimes my phone…when it’s not missing! haha
AM: Run us through some of your favorite routines when you’re in the gym. Have you carried over a lot from those grueling football practices? Do you take any studio classes to round out your training?
MS: I usually work out for an hour 5/6 days a week. I don't do the same workout I did as a football player. Now I do exercises that are more conducive to mobility and flexibility. I still lift weights, but the exercises and amount that I lift are definitely different.
AM: What are some of the jams or artists that are your go-to’s for your workout playlist? Anything new you just started listening to?
MS: I listen to Bill Wither’s “Lovely Day” every morning before work. It’s the best way to start the day! I’m a creature of habit. I like to work out to Hip-Hop. Whatever's hot I listen to.
AM: How do you stay on top of daily nutrition, what are some of you favorite meal combinations and snacks that keep you lean and mean? What is that one irresistible treat item that you just crave and enjoy?
MS: I eat a lot of fish, chicken and turkey and fresh vegetables without the butter and other things that add sneaking calories into my diet. I have protein smoothies and hard boiled eggs along with nuts as well. I have a weakness for chocolate in any form so I do crave chocolate chip cookies and ice cream, but I only indulge occasionally.
AM: You are an inspiration for work ethic across the board, what does “being 100% present” mean to you?
MS: It means waking up happy and putting your best foot forward each and every day. A good friend of mine always says “dress shoes.” It makes me laugh, but I like the meaning behind it because it’s about “putting your best foot forward…and if you’re going to do that, you should literally be putting your best foot forward". I have to remember to put away the phone and stay in the moment. That's a hard test for everyone in this age of technology, but it really helps you to stay present if you can do it.
AM: Your best-selling book, “Wake Up Happy: The Dream Big, Win Big Guide to Transforming Your Life” shares a lot of personal stories and advice for personal ambitions and going from good to great. What is a tip or two to be on top of one’s game and keep on track in active lifestyle?
MS: I draw upon the power of positive thinking often. Developing a routine always helps to keep you on track. And most of all, just remember to encourage yourself and give yourself a break if you need it. Don't be so hard on yourself if you're not perfect because none of us are.
AM: Hello Stuart, thanks for joining us. Tell our readers a bit about your background and how you came to be Creative Director, Men’s Private Label at JCPenney.
STUART BILLINGHAM: I have been in the industry for 15 years, both in the European & US markets, working on a variety of product ranging from surf/skate, outdoor, heritage and fast fashion. JCPenney was an amazing opportunity for me to work with a highly talented team and immerse myself in a number of different lifestyles through the amazing private labels exclusive to us here, including Arizona, Xersion and of course MSX by Michael Strahan.
AM: What are some of the lines that you have been able to create with personalities?
SB: MSX by Michael Strahan was the first line I have had the opportunity to collaborate with a major personality like Michael, so this idea of working with someone who had a strong idea that they wanted to bring to life was super exciting.
AM: How did the collaboration with you and Michael Strahan come about and what is the process that goes into creating a line such as this?
SB: JCPenney and Michael have been working together on our suiting line, COLLECTION by MICHAEL STRAHAN so it felt natural to find something to balance that – with MSX we wanted comfort and performance attributes, but we didn't want to make it feel like a performance line. We want guys to wear it everyday, to integrate each piece into their lifestyle.
AM: How was it to work with Michael?
SB: Michael was heavily involved in the design process and showed so much foresight when it came to the product. He has great vision and is obsessed about the details like I am, so we had fun geeking out over new ideas.
AM: What are some of the inspirations behind the line?
SB: This is Michael Strahan’s second apparel line with JCPenney and we pulled inspiration from his personal style and his active lifestyle as a father and one of America’s most recognizable athletes and media personalities.
AM: We hear Michael says “everyone should get one of each,” where is a good place to begin to jumpstart their wardrobe with some core essentials?
SB: The true core of the collection comes in our performance jersey styles. Anyone can build on our tees offered in crew neck, V-neck or sleeveless muscle, all with our no-chafe seam details and quick drying technology, so you will be comfortable all day. We also have great layer-ups in fleece and 4-way stretch fabrications that offer great outfitting capabilities.
AM: What are additional styles that will be in future collections?
SB: Together with Michael, we are continuing to evolve the line with new product, and have some very exciting things coming for the MSX collection for Fall 16. Stay tuned.
Photo (P.41) courtesy of Jerry Coli. Photo (P.142/143) courtesy of Frank Jansky/ZUMA Wire. Photo (144/145) courtesy of Lev Radin.
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