Inside his posh studio on El Paseo, Randy Willard unfolds the opening of one of his spiffy sport coats — a navy blue cashmere blend, conservative at first glance — to reveal a vibrant orange and crème striped lining. “Fashion is about having fun with what you wear,” says the man behind Randy Willard Inc., whose client list includes the pro sports elite, celebrities, and the desert’s most fashion-forward. The showroom exhibits some of Willard’s latest designs — paisley button-down shirts, neckties, and jackets — but the designer spends most of his time traveling to clients’ homes, armed with swatches, ideas, and even a tailor. Preparing for a visit with Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts, for whom Willard is assembling a “complete wardrobe,” he says, “Nobody else flies a tailor 2,000 miles with them to get a fitting right, so this is something our customers really appreciate.” This full-wardrobe experience is the idea upon which Willard built his business over the past six years. With an understanding of his clients’ personalities, he chooses patterns, fabrics, and silhouettes that suit them, customizes the fit, and creates a wardrobe guidebook, so they can piece the one-of-a-kind outfits together on their own.
When you work with so many men in the same industry — the NFL and NBA, for instance — is there a conflict with creating similar outfits?
I draw from so many different patterns and looks that I can create different vibes for different people. So it never becomes an issue.
What do you mean when you say you “mix European style with American sensitivity”?
Europeans are not afraid to wear fashion in an extraterrestrial way. Here, men like to be comfortable. So my job is to make fashion fun, but in a way that men will wear it.
What celebrity would you love to dress?
I would love to make Blake Shelton an outfit. He’s down to earth and country. I’ve got Midwest roots, so I love country. I enjoy his personality, and think I could do some things on the fashion scene that he would love.
What makes your custom denim a stitch above other custom brands?
I use raw denim, which, after you wash it, becomes your best friend. It starts to conform and fit to your body, the more you wash and wear it.
What inspired your interest in fashion?
I didn’t realize it until I got into this industry 20 years ago, but my interest in people and the way they look goes back to when I was a little boy and we went to Disneyland, and I was more interested in sitting around and watching people than riding rides. I’m always looking at the way people are dressed.
Describe your personal style.
I never quit having fun with what I wear. You can’t look good without having fun with fashion — or anything in life.
Have any women asked you to custom design an outfit?
Many times. I made Greg Renker’s wife [Stacey] an outfit off the cover of W magazine. It was a jacket-pant outfit. It allowed me to still do, kind of what I do, but from a feminine point of view. It had a Chanel look to it, evening driven and elegant. I thought it came out very well. It’s more challenging to design for women because there are so many options to choose from and idiosyncrasies that a woman will chase. Whereas, men will just say, “Make me look good, and make me comfortable [laughs].”