Nev Schulman exposes online dating frauds as host of his MTV docu-series Catfish, now in its third season. No big surprise that when it comes to his style, what you see is what you get.
By Brandon Voss
Essential Homme: You grew up in New York City. When did you begin finding your personal style?
Nev Schulman: For a long time I was the recipient of my older brother [filmmaker Ariel Schulman’s] hand-me-downs. He’s an avid shopper and clotheshorse, so I’ve always stolen and borrowed from him. I recently came home to find a pair of A.P.C. jeans neatly folded on my dresser with a note that said, “Hey, got these, too tight.” I used to be amazed at how much time and money he spent on clothes. Only in the last few years have I realized that there’s an art and a joy to quality shopping and investing in a wardrobe. This, of course, coincided with becoming more in the public eye, so I wanted to look and feel good.
You began shooting your 2010 documentary Catfish back in 2007. Are you critical of your clothes in the film?
Definitely, but that’s been the story since my teenage years. I was weirdly rudderless in my fashion sense. My mom, who was a creative dresser, encouraged me to wear an eclectic mix of things. Some were cool and some weren’t. Now I want my style to be unanimous and refined.
Are you attracted to any particular labels?
For basics I find that J.Crew, right off the rack, works really well for me. I’m very lucky that I have sort of a mannequin-esque body. When I want to invest in something more long-lasting, Ralph Lauren’s RRL is a favorite. My two go-to pairs of jeans, one blue and one black, are both RRL. I’ve had a pair repaired a couple times, but it only gets better. I recently discovered Rag & Bone and fell in love with their T-shirts, which are simple but incredibly thick and well cut.
What else do you look for in an outfit?
Well, when I’m dressing for the MTV show, I’m very conscious about not distracting from the story. I don’t want it to be about what I’m wearing or me looking cool, so I’m searching for something clean and put-together but not flashy. I guess that’s always been my style anyway.
You wear your own clothes on the show?
Oh, yeah. Going into production, one of the things I was clear about is that I didn’t want anything like lighting, makeup, or wardrobe. I never wanted to be pressured to wear something I didn’t want to wear. That’s why we don’t have any sponsors on the show, because whether it’s a computer or a sweater, I want it to be me. We do get a shopping budget, which isn’t much, but I still wear things I’ve been wearing for years. I want the way that I dress to match my personality.
I imagine you also want to put the online daters at ease.
Yeah, I need to be approachable. I can’t have an outfit that screams high fashion or couture. Most of the people on the show and most of the people watching it are working with a limited budget, certainly when it comes to clothing, so I don’t want to put anyone off. I want to look like an everyman. But I also hope to influence this generation of MTV watchers to wear clothes that fit them and that look more mature. It seems to be working, because a lot of people have commented on my style.
How does your style compare to that of your Catfish co-star Max Joseph?
He definitely likes a different palette, but we do have a similar look. Every morning while shooting we have to knock on each other’s door and make sure we’re not wearing the same thing.
Do you use a stylist for red carpets or special events?
I’ve never had a stylist, no, but right now my dress-up wardrobe consists of Theory suits, which are clean, handsome, and fit me nicely. I’m turning 30 this year, so I may be ready to graduate into something more sophisticated, possibly a Tom Ford.
What’s the last item of clothing you splurged on?
I’ve never been one to wear logos, but I did buy a Comme des Garçons Play sweater with the heart on it. I could’ve found a more affordable wool sweater, but it’s a nice reference to the show, and it makes people smile.
Essential Homme, June/July 2014 issue.