News & Runway

How to Make It (Look Good) in America: Closed Set with Julie Bensman

How to Make it in America HBO

When I popped into SL last week to visit the cast of HBO's How to Make It In America, my first words to Eddie Kaye Thomas were, "Wow, you look good."

"Thanks," he replied. "It's all mine. Well, the jeans and shoes, anyway." It's no wonder Thomas has great personal style; he plays David “Kappo” Kaplan, a Prada-loving hedge fund manager on the show. We were shooting Eddie, along with co-stars Victor Rasuk and Bryan Greenberg, for the upcoming men's issue of Gotham. Rasuk and Greenberg, unsurprisingly, were there looking equally dapper.

The style secret behind the lens of How to Make It in America is costume designers Kurt and Bart. I caught up with the duo to pick their brains on epic sunrises, happy accidents, and how it feels to work with this charming trio on a daily basis.

Julie Bensman: I can only imagine what your typical day consists of…

Kurt and Bart: We usually start early so finding a decent cup of coffee while heading to location is paramount. We shoot all over the city: Brooklyn, some Queens and Staten Island thrown in, so we get to see some great sunrises while we bounce between our actors' trailers, making sure everyone is looking great for their first shot. Getting background ready takes a lot of man power but it's always fun to see 200 people dressed for an upscale nightclub or pressed for a formal wedding when it's only 6 AM.

Finding shopping in the neighborhoods you're shooting in can be tough, but we have great sources that lead us to some amazing local designers and seasonal local gear. We work as a team and the two of us can cover a lot of ground in one day. After shopping, we’ll sprint back to set to change people over, call new cast, put together the next day's looks, and have a show-and-tell powwow with our rad Executive Producer/Creator, Ian Edelman.

JB: How did you find yourselves in this occupation?

K+B: Happy accident, to be sure. We had come from a self-taught fashion background that wandered out of the 80s NYC clubs into styling, fashion, music, and film but never even thought about working in television. When we met the creators [Ian Edelman and Director Julian Farino] about the pilot, we knew we had to do it!

JB: It's rare to find an ensemble cast that gets along as well off-screen as on-screen. How do you dress each guy with regards to his character's storyline?

K+B: We want each of the guys to be unique, have his own sense of style and, most of all, feel authentic. Ben’s [Bryan Greenberg] style is effortless NY cool bypassing total hipsterville. There are some references to skate culture, basketball, and classic workwear mixed with some vintage military influences, too. Think Billy Reid, Jil Sander, Varvatos, Freemans Sporting Club and Rag and Bone.

We think of Cam [Victor Rasuk] as Lower East Side realness that can travel anywhere. He dresses in the best of skate and urban brands (collaborations and hybrids) but also cleans up and looks pressed in fitted preppy casuals. Think Shipley & Halmos, Nike, Marc by Marc, Hurley, WeSC, and Passarella Death Squad.

For Kappo [Eddie Kaye Thomas], it’s all Prada.

The new season of How To Make It in America premieres October 2 at 10:30pm on HBO. Be there or be square.