Eye-pop­ping laces are part of his style show

Jay Hig­gins, the man be­hind Hamil­ton’s Food and Drink Fes­ti­val, tai­lors his at­tire to suit the oc­ca­sion

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - SH­ERYL NADLER sh­eryl@sh­eryl­nadler.com

Jay Hig­gins knows that one of the best ways to sell a prod­uct is to sell him­self, too.

Why would a po­ten­tial client be­lieve he’s an ex­pert on con­sumer trends if he’s wear­ing an ill-fit­ting, out-of-date suit?

Which is why Hig­gins, pres­i­dent of fes­ti­val and con­sumer trade show com­pany Beau Monde Pro­duc­tions, tai­lors his at­tire to suit the oc­ca­sion. If he’s meet­ing with a res­tau­rant about par­tic­i­pat­ing in Hamil­ton’s Food and Drink Fest, he’ll prob­a­bly opt for a stylish blazer, shirt and trendy jeans or khakis. But on the day of the ac­tual show, Hig­gins brings it — suit, tie — the whole nine yards.

“I no­tice that the ex­hibitors step it up when all my team is in suit and tie or dress,” says Hig­gins, 52, who grew up on the east Moun­tain and has also taught mar­ket­ing at Mo­hawk Col­lege.

Not one for mix­ing bright colours, Hig­gins prefers pas­tel tones, of­ten from the blue and pur­ple fam­i­lies. His look is monochro­matic but he adds tex­ture by in­cor­po­rat­ing sub­tle prints like the Nick Gra­ham flo­ral shirt he found at Mar­shalls that he wears here un­der­neath a heather blue blazer from Ba­nana Repub­lic.

“I’ve never been a flashy per se type of per­son,” he says. “But I cer­tainly en­joy step­ping out­side of my boundary.”

Hig­gins adds yet an­other print here in the way of his blue stripe socks from Buf­falo, which peek out from be­neath his rolled-up Gap jeans. A black Polo belt and tan shoes from Call It Spring add pol­ish and the ad­di­tion of blue laces adds a touch of whimsy to his over­all look.

Most eye-catch­ing piece:

I bought a Rud­sak win­ter coat, which is kind of out of my wheel­house ... I saw this coat in the win­dow and (thought), ‘Wow, that’s re­ally sharp.’ And I was in the market for a coat. I ended up buy­ing it, but I didn’t buy it right away be­cause that’s not how I play. I had to shop around. I had to go to, like, 100 other stores and try on other coats to see if this is the one … it just fits me like it was tai­lored. It’s black but it’s got leather el­bows on it, kind of a leather col­lar, the zip­pers all have leather in­lay on them. Quirki­est wardrobe item: I have a pair of red jeans. My wife said, ‘No way you’re buy­ing those things, right?’ And she went her way and I went that way and I bought them. And I got home and she was like, ‘I can’t be­lieve you bought those things. You’re kid­ding me, right?’

I do wear them. And ev­ery time I wear them, peo­ple stop. I’ve had peo­ple stop a car and back up and say, ‘Where did you get those pants?’ I got them at Mar­shalls at the out­let mall. Wardrobe must-have: A re­versible belt … for trav­el­ling, it’s bril­liant. I bring one belt and don’t have to worry about bring­ing an­other belt. For the Ni­a­gara (wed­ding) show I’ll bring two pairs of shoes and one belt and a cou­ple of suits and it’s just like, flip, and I’ve got the new look. Best pur­chase: I bought an over­coat from the (Bay’s) 1867 line. This black over­coat is three-sea­son and it works with ev­ery­thing — even a mild win­ter … I had it on three or four days ago and a guy stopped me and said, ‘Where did you get that coat?’ And it’s not the first time. Re­grets buy­ing: A num­ber of years back, I bought a mo­tor­cy­cle. And I had to run out and get the biker jacket — the black biker jacket. And at the time it broke the bank; it was an ex­pen­sive coat to buy. But you had to do the right thing and also for safety rea­sons; you can’t have vinyl be­cause if you do fall, it’ll burn right into your skin. Whereas leather is pro­tec­tive and that’s the whole rea­son you wear a leather biker jacket. A year later I was try­ing to buy my first home — a town­house — and for the down pay­ment, I had to sell my bike. And I’ve never worn the coat since. So it’s sit­ting in my closet and I still have the thing. Loves to shop at: I ac­tu­ally hate shop­ping be­cause I grew up as the youngest, with two (older) sis­ters, and I was dragged to the mall end­lessly, like ev­ery week­end … but I love the hunt. So, for ex­am­ple, if I need a new pair of shoes or a suit or what­ever, I’ll go ev­ery­where. I’ll go to 25, 30 stores and try it on. I have a lot of pa­tience for that some­how. I tend to like Ba­nana Repub­lic — it seems to fit me like a glove. Mar­shalls, I get lucky … I like The Bay …. I like The Gap. Rid­ding his closet of: My wife is a clean freak and obsessed with or­ga­niz­ing. So prob­a­bly four to five times a year she forces me to, lit­er­ally, go (through my wardrobe) from socks to suits … she says if you have not worn that in a year, it goes. Splurges on: Road-bike-rid­ing gear. The kit, they call it … with rid­ing gear, I prob­a­bly spend the most amount of money. So that’s the shirt, the shorts, the socks and the gloves and all the dif­fer­ent rid­ing gear that you need.

Beauty prod­uct he can’t live with­out:

Sun­screen. It gives you the mois­ture that you need and cer­tainly the pro­tec­tion that you need.


“I play with colour. I’m cer­tainly not scared of colour,” says Jay Hig­gins, pres­i­dent of Beau Monde Pro­duc­tions, whose monochro­matic blue look is punc­tu­ated with the sub­tle flo­ral print on his Nick Gra­ham shirt from Mar­shalls. He wears it un­der a blue heather blazer, with blue Gap jeans and a black Polo belt. His tan shoes from Call It Spring and bright blue laces fin­ish his look.

Bright blue laces add an un­ex­pected pop of colour to a pair of tan shoes from Call It Spring. Hig­gins says he used to love wear­ing crazy ties with out­ra­geous pat­terns but now he adds whimsy to his out­fits in a more re­fined way.

Hig­gins’ monochro­matic blue look is punc­tu­ated with the sub­tle flo­ral print on his Nick Gra­ham shirt from Mar­shalls.

A re­versible belt is a must-have, es­pe­cially for trav­el­ling. Here Hig­gins adds a black Polo belt to a pair of Gap jeans.

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