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Photography by Mr Will Davidson, Styling by Mr Bruce Pask
Words by Ms Jodie Harrison

Mr Haines has the look of a man that's found his calling. After abandoning his role as a menswear designer several years ago, he took to the streets of New York City to document what was happening out in the real world of men's dress for his blog What I Saw Today. Recognition came quickly. Within a few short years, his brilliant, uncomplicated etchings began to grace the pages of several influential magazines and Mr Haines began to occupy a seat on the front rows of the world's most prestigious fashion shows. For some, he has played an integral role in breathing life back into the fading world of fashion illustration.

"I love going to the shows, but I still prefer catching people doing their thing out on the street," he admits. "There's just something so simple and intimate about that". Thankfully for us, he was willing to come in from the cold to model for this week's story, shot in the city he has grown so fond of.

In the rush of technology, why do you think illustration is still so relevant?
Everything is so digital and processed now, and everyone's constantly bombarded with photographic images, which of course are incredibly valid, but I think that people are longing for something with a human touch. I find when I do drawings, that the smudgier and messier, the more people respond to it. People just want to see something that's handmade.
How has technology aided your work?
For me, the two go hand in hand. My style of drawing is very fast and within hours of doing one I'm posting it on a blog and linking it to Facebook or Twitter. I don't think I'd have the impact or be doing what I'd be doing if it weren't for technology. The process is really exciting: just scanning work and putting it out there and reaching people directly.
Your blog seems like a running commentary on fashion and your life. Why did you start it?
I call it my love letter to New York. I originally started because I love sketching and thought it would be another way to market myself as a designer. It was also because I've lived in New York for a long time and I'm constantly recharged by what I see on the streets - it's a constant flow of ideas, looks and groups and it never really stops. I just want to acknowledge what I see around me.


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Were you born in New York?
No, I've lived here since I graduated from college. I was born in Panama and my father was in the military, so there was a lot of travelling around. But I remember the first time I came to New York and thinking, 'All I want to do is live here.' Creatively it's a dream.
Can you suggest a few places to go?
These days I'm very Brooklyn-centric so I would recommend going to parties and clubs in Bushwick and Greenpoint, and of course Williamsburg. There's a great bar called Party Expo where lots of local bands play. There's also a great tiny coffee place called Little Skips that has become a Mecca for local artists. They have all kinds of events from chess nights to art projects - it's like a hipster version of Cheers.
You were a fashion designer and now you've returned to illustration - how did that happen?
I felt I had a reached a point with my fashion design where I didn't know where to take it. I had some really big jobs making a lot of money and then those jobs didn't seem to be happening anymore. People say it's so cool you made the choice to be an illustrator, but basically I wasn't getting any design work. I could glamorise it and say I had an epiphany, but I guess I wasn't very good so I had to come up with a plan B, fast.
Do you only draw men?
It's mostly men because I was a menswear designer so I understand all the nuances of what they're wearing. Someone said - and I think they're over intellectualising it - that I'm capturing a moment in time in New York, and I guess maybe that's true, but I do think there's just a lot happening with guys right now. There's a huge explosion of men developing a style...
To you, what sums up great style?
I always have this thing that in Brooklyn, straight guys roll jeans up - but do they talk about this? It's an unspoken rule they have. All of those things really make a difference with guys' style. There's a swagger to guys on the street when they know they've got their look down. That's style to me.
What's the best part of your job?
It's a dream job! It sounds corny, but I love to draw more than anything - I really enjoy meeting people and if I'm doing a sketch of someone I will talk to them because it relaxes them and relaxes me and inevitably there's a good story.
How do you describe your own style?
It's a uniform. My father was in the navy and I didn't realise what an influence his uniforms had on me. I like to have everything in navy and white, so it's basically a pair of A.P.C. jeans, really good shoes - like Church's - and then I'll mix it with a cheap shirt. I think of my style as a palate cleanser - I'd rather see great clothes on other people.