For Michael Williams, staying busy is never a challenge. His immensely influential menswear and lifestyle blog A Continuous Lean (ACL) was one of the early standouts in the category when it was founded in 2007, and remains a force. At the same time, Williams started his own agency Paul+Williams with colleague and longtime friend Ali Paul. With offices on both coasts, the house has become among the most highly regarded public relations and marketing firms in the industry with clients like Filson, Patagonia and Aether—to name just a few.
To celebrate the new partnership from American heritage brand
PF Flyers and cutting-edge NYC-based menswear designer Todd Snyder, we’re profiling gentlemen who embody the spirit of the collaboration: balancing driven practicality with refined aesthetics. Born and raised in Cleveland, Williams owes much of his success to his work ethic and honest approach. He’s a man who, when walking through the streets of SoHo, passersby can most certainly learn a little something about style from.
Your site A Continuous Lean started as a personal project. How has blogging and social media changed the way culture and fashion interact?
Yes, everything seems to have changed: social media, Instagram and Tumblr especially have changed the way people interact with fashion online, but also in real life. There’s less structure to how people are being inspired by people online and there’s less of a lag between the brands and the consumers. I think people don’t have the same relationship with blogs (style-focused or other types of sites) that they did even a few years ago.
I don’t think it’s a matter of being more in touch with design, I think is has to do with having a better view of the playing field.
Has the everyday consumer become more fluent in design?
I don’t think it’s a matter of being more in touch with design, I think is has to do with having a better view of the playing field. People now can learn so much more about a designer, a new collection or what’s happening with a brand much easier (and sooner) than they could before. People can follow a designer on Instagram and have such a good view into how they see the world. It’s pretty astonishing when you consider it.
What stands out about the Todd Snyder for PF Flyers partnership to you?
The sneakers are plush. They are a great fall shoe. I love the tonal aspect that Todd Snyder brings to things. The good news is, you can wear a good sneaker with virtually anything these days. So these shoes will move perfectly between work and play. What else could a gentleman want?
Walk me through a day in the life.
My days are divided between work on ACL and for my agency clients. Before I ever started ACL I did marketing and communications work for clothing companies.
Travel is the number one inspiration for what I do professionally.
I usually write in the morning. Then I’ll go to the office, have meetings with clients, work through the day, in the afternoon I’ll sometimes go out and work on content for the blog—go shoot something, check out a shop, have meetings etc. In the evenings I normally go to events or dinners with friends, designers, or clients. If I’m lucky I’ll meet up with my wife and we’ll check out a cool new restaurant. No two days are alike though, which is something I really love. I never wanted a normal nine-to-five job. I’m lucky that I have the flexibility that I do. I also travel a lot, which is something I really enjoy. Travel is the number one inspiration for what I do professionally.
Your style seems pretty effortless. From where do you draw inspiration?
From the classic sources; from style icon actors, from history and from my friends. I’m lucky to get to hang out with guys like Mark McNairy, Arron Levine and Todd Snyder.
What are a few essentials in your arsenal?
A notebook—I’m obsessed with Smythson notebooks, a good camera and it never hurts to know a skilled tailor.
What’s one thing every gentleman should own?
Original thoughts and a good set of stationery.
I walk around with a few different ideas that I use to try and guide my everyday life:
Low expectations make it easy to be pleased.
Don’t be afraid to go your own way.
Give people the benefit of the doubt.
Treat others how I would like to be treated.
Second chances are important.
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Michael Williams is co-founder of Paul+Williams and editor-in-chief at A Continuous Lean. This series is sponsored by Todd Snyder for PF Flyers. For more Dapper Deconstructed content, visit PF Flyers’ dedicated Tumblr.
Images by Hans Aschim