Quality Gains

Social media and brand consultant Bradley Gifford talks about the importance of discerning taste and why both in his career and style he’s motivated to seek out failures first, to ensure quality that lasts.

Words by Good Counsel

Portraits by Justin Bridges

Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do.


I’m Bradley Gifford. I’m a social media and brand strategy consultant. My most recent work was with DOGPOUND. I’ve had an interesting journey to get to this point as far as the professional map is concerned. Between that and just having an eye for fits… here we are. 


Tell us a bit about that most recent work? 


DOGPOUND is a personal training studio in TriBeCa. Kirk Myers, who’s the gym’s founder and CEO—he’s the spirit, and the heart beat as well. Kirk is the lead trainer, he’s got a tireless work ethic, an infectious vibe and personality—the love that radiates from him really permeates the space and it’s really why they’ve been able to be as successful as they have been in such a short period of time. 


What was your primary work focused on? 


There aren’t that many situations out there where I’d be given the opportunity to share in making consequential decisions early on and be able to kind of say, “Hey, here’s my creative outlook on how this brand can best be positioned.” To have had a team of people that I could correspond with, that relied on me, that trusted my judgement—and in turn I could trust them to be a sounding board and a guide—we worked really well together and I think, moreso than anything, it’s given me a lot to learn from, quickly. I’m thankful for that opportunity more than anything. From working with nutrition companies to right-size the composition of meals, to connecting equipment companies about facilities  management… in between driving traffic to social media properties like YouTube and Instagram… and engaging other brands and retailers to develop potential fashion capsules—it was great exposure.

You said that you had a long weaving path to get to this point. What’d you do before this? 


I started working in financial services. I came out of school thinking I’d get some years on a resume. I worked with hedge funds and alternative asset managers, specifically on PR and communications strategies and crisis management. That notion was quickly shaken up when I decided I wanted a little bit more room to take risks and fail…  invest in the value of the product that I was putting forth and not checking the boxes, so to speak.


We often talk about the successes but we’re into the challenges, too. If you don’t mind sharing, what has been one of your biggest failures thus far? 


I left that first gig after the first year. I tried to launch a with a teammate of mine from school. We hooped together. We got cast for a reality television show called Planet of the Apps. Got screamed at by Jessica Alba a little bit on stage. That was another really good learning experience… like jumping out of a plane with no parachute… that attempt to start a company from scratch and bootstrap… figuring out all the best, efficient ways to launch something from the ground up… the takeaways I had outweighed the failure of not being the next Zuckerberg… it was very much okay. 


Let’s talk about failures in style. And not necessarily your style, but being 6’5”,  205 pounds—how has that limited your ability to find the clothes that you want off the rack or in stores? How do you shop? 


I shop online. I’ve seen somebody either my size or with similar dimensions wearing a piece or something from a designer… that’s usually how it starts… which leads me to thinking maybe this label has fits that I can wear in addition to the other stuff that I can just admire from afar… clothes that are great in theory but I know, on my frame, just won’t look good. It’s about picking and choosing my spots, what textiles, what patterns, what prints can actually fall on my body with a larger, taller frame.

What makes an item special to you?


Minimal branding. I don’t really like things with a lot of labels because it’s obvious what that item is. To train the eye to find something that really stands out because it’s well-made, that’s important to me. I’ll look out for quality cashmere or a well-stitched collar on a shirt.


Any style rules?


I don’t think I leave my house and walk back but I’ll definitely put on an outfit and change a few times. I try not to. But it’s important to be mindful of the details, measuring five times maybe, but cutting once. Take the extra time to care a little bit more.


There’s something about the clothes one wears that lend grace under pressure. If you could talk about some of the pressures that you feel, and the luxury of being able to put something on and forgetting about it?

 

I feel like I wake up under pressure and it’s something I push towards. Looking your best gives you the confidence to seek out those challenges, not wait for them.

Have you started to find your own style pattern or framework for yourself?


I try not to follow trends too much and really try to look at designers that make quality layers… year-round things that will never go out of style. I look for colors, I really look for a great cut and things that will last. I know you pay for what you get—it’s about making sure it’s durable, it’s fashionable, it’s versatile, it’s unique. My style is more modern classics, so I’ll try and track if trends can be incorporated into what I normally like to rock. If so, great, because I think it’s always nice to blend the old with the new. But I usually lean more towards the classics because of the fit and build that I have. 


What are some things that retailers can do better get your business and make you want to shop and make you feel comfortable on their platform?


Pieces are constantly being put out and some of them might be with great intention, some of them might just be to generate some more revenue. As a hopeful, educated consumer, I think it’s on me to parse that out. Deliver quality on a regular basis… enough to get my attention and keep it.


Do concepts like Good Counsel excite you?

 

Yeah, absolutely. Having a platform that I can go to. Reading the longform, the images that are put out—I know there are going to be designers that I might have not been aware of. Good Counsel carries brands that I’m unfamiliar with and now my eyes are open to a great set of modern essentials. Seeing that all in one place… it’s a great resource for someone like me who has an eye, wants to learn more about the industry, and definitely doesn’t have a technical understanding—but a deep, general interest.

Any style icons?


I think my original style icon has to be my dad. Seeing him every day wearing a tailored suit to work, monograms on his shirts, taking things to the dry-cleaners, always coming correct. He worked in the public eye a lot... going out of my way to present myself well definitely came from him. 


How important is style to you as an individual? 


I think style—as opposed to fashion—is everything in a world where especially on social where the content is a constant back and forth of mimicry… of what other people do, or say, or wear, or act… the best thing you can do is be yourself and that’s through personal style.