The 14 Most Influential, Under-the-Radar People in Men's Fashion

These low-key VIPs don't need a flashy look to make it to the front row.
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Mel Ottenberg. Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage

Mel Ottenberg. Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage

Not all heroes wear capes, and neither do all influential figures in men's fashion — even if doing so would almost certainly land them a coveted spot in a fashion week street style photo gallery. As these low-key VIPs prove season in and season out, you don't always need a flashy look to supplement the big-time title on your biz cards.

Street style photographers have certainly propelled some industry figures into the consciousness of fashion fans following along at home, but those men and women don't represent the full force of the key players who attend fashion weeks. There are plenty of others — some of whom we've outlined here — who are endlessly admired and easily recognizable within fashion circles, but are able to maintain a lower public profile that allows their bylines and biz cred to do the heavy lifting.

With fashion month upon us, and more brands than ever combining menswear and womenswear on the same runway, here is a list of important voices within the fashion industry that you may not always be able to find in end-of-week photo wrap-ups.

Luke Leitch, journalist

Photo: Darren Gerrish/WireImage

Photo: Darren Gerrish/WireImage

Leitch, a London-based journalist who once described himself as a "straight, unmoisturized bloke," enjoys a position as one of Vogue.com's most prominent runway critics. He's also the style editor for The Economist's lifestyle magazine, 1843, and has contributed to GQ and The Telegraph.

Mimi Fukuyoshi, VP/DMM of 5F Contemporary, Bergdorf Goodman

mimi fukuyoshi

Photo: Charles Norfleet/Getty Images

Women making a career in menswear are still the exception to the rule, but Fukuyoshi has been doing so for well over a decade, maintaining a low-key profile despite her role as a VP in the venerable men's department at Bergdorf Goodman.

Steven Kolb, CEO, CFDA

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Kolb has done more to support New York Men's Fashion Week than nearly anyone else in the industry. Accordingly, you can spot him in the front row of virtually every show on the calendar, hobnobbing with the week's celebrity ambassadors.

Jason Rider, Senior Fashion Editor, T: The New York Times Style Magazine

Rider is a big reason why the fashion features in T have maintained their stylistically forward-looking slant in recent years. The stylist and editor is frequently tapped by brands big and small for his innovative point of view, as well.

Matthew Marden, Style Director, Esquire

Photo: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

Photo: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

Marden worked at Details Magazine for 11 years before it published its final issue in January 2016. Now on staff at Esquire as Style Director, Marden has recently styled cover stories for At Large and Men's Journal, too.

Sam Lobban, Buying Manager, Mr Porter

As Mr Porter continues to grow in its role as one of the most influential online destinations for menswear, so does Lobban's presence at fashion week and beyond. Lobban, a New York-based Brit, often represents Mr Porter in press interviews.

Mel Ottenberg, Stylist

Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage

Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage

If Ottenberg's face is actually familiar to you, it's likely thanks to his styling work with Rihanna; the #RihNavy is on his side. Still, Ottenberg — also the Fashion Director at 032c Magazine — more often cedes the spotlight to his famous clientele.

Jon Tietz, Fashion Editor, GQ

Photo: Jared Siskin and Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

Photo: Jared Siskin and Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

For a print publication in 2017, GQ has an exceptionally deep roster of talent on its masthead. Tietz has been a steady, if relatively under-the-radar presence there since he was plucked from his job at Club Monaco in 2014.

Eric Jennings, VP & Fashion Director, Saks Fifth Avenue

Photo: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

Photo: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

Saks is a New York institution. Jennings, who has been with the retailer since 2008, is himself a front row stalwart and a regular on the global fashion show circuit.

Matthew Schneier, Style Reporter, The New York Times

In addition to maintaining a consistently amusing Twitter feed — it's especially worth following during fashion week for wry observations on the spectacle of it all — Schneier deviates from style coverage from time to time, too, with features on musical theater and the occasional dinner with Snoop and Martha.

Robin Givhan, Fashion Editor, The Washington Post

Photo: Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images

Photo: Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images

Givhan is a Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion critic and journalist who often seamlessly connects fashion's seemingly frivolous indulgences with a broader cultural context, helping to make sense of what we're all doing here in the first place.

Guy Trebay, Style/Culture Reporter, The New York Times

Photo:  Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan

Photo:  Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan

Another long-time presence on The Times' style squad, Trebay is arguably at his best when he's in roast-mode; he recently referred to Casey Affleck as "not the biggest schlump in show business," and called the much-hyped Supreme x Louis Vuitton collab "a murder-suicide." Drag her, Guy!

Tom van Dorpe, Stylist/Fashion Editor, V/VMan Magazine

As frequent a backstage presence as he is in the audience, the native Belgian counts Nike, Tim Coppens and Hugo Boss among his clients.

Grant Woolhead, Stylist / Fashion Director, Out Magazine

In his post as Fashion Director at Out Magazine, Woolhead dressed President Obama for a 2015 cover shoot. While jobs don't get much more high-profile than that, Woolhead does have campaigns for Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Neiman Marcus under his belt, too. 

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