From the moment he steps into a room, Edwards Buice exudes confident enthusiasm. Whether talking about his love for his home city of Chicago, his conversion to Judaism, the temple in which he has taken a continually active role or his love for his partner, Buice’s relentless flow of pervasive energy pulls at the restraints of merely a dialogue in a coffee shop.
A lithe figure who betrays nothing remotely close to his mid-fifties age, as he got onto the subject of being “drawn to the airline industry” as a time when companies such as Piedmont and Pan Am were still a thing, he made the surrounding millennials look like crotchety old farts.
Although, these days, being drawn to the airline industry is a sentiment rarely shared by its customers who cite Intrusive TSA screenings, ever-reducing leg room, and the obsessive quest by carriers to discover inventive new ways of squeezing more money from the hapless customer as taking all the joy out of flying, Buice was fascinated by the business of it and what he described as the sheer numbers of airline workers, each of whose jobs must coalesce to ensure even one successful journey.
Both that fascination and a passion for working with travelers to make them as comfortable as possible led Buice through three decades of job satisfaction as an attendant on both national and international flights. Meanwhile, after meeting at a local tennis club, he found enduring love with his partner Frank.
But, four years ago, Buice realized his ensemble of content was missing an important piece.
“I wanted to achieve something else in life,” he said. “Something I could build and organize.”
An answer came through a combination of his job and an embrace of fashion that made his daily wardrobe less of a container and more of a personal emissary.
“Fashion is a way to convey a message,” Buice said. “That’s how I wear my clothes. What kind of message do I want to convey to someone when they see me on the street or when I walk into a room? Someone that’s confident, knowledgeable, approachable.”
In as much as the airline industry drastically altered the way it did business post-9/11, Buice noticed that so did the appearance of his customers.
“It really depends on the destination,” he said. “Weekday passengers to New York, Boston, DC or morning flights to London dress fantastically. But in other destinations, like vacation spots, I see people walking along in short-shorts or flip-flops. They are made for the beach. You shouldn’t be wearing them on a plane! I’ve seen leotards with UGG boots and a green stocking hat. People used to dress formally to travel. Now we’ve changed as a society. We’ve become more casual. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress well.”
Given that most people still have to remove various articles of clothing before going through a TSA scanner which makes anything left outside of whatever remains of one’s dignity obsolete, why not flip-flops?
“Just because it’s easy doesn’t make it right,” Buice insisted. “You could wear loafers. How would a stranger connect with you if your message is ‘I don’t care what I look like, I don’t care about myself’? But when you meet someone who catches your eye because of the care they took in the way they dress, there is a positive energy that emanates from them that wants you to know more about them. That’s what fashion is; touching somebody’s life in a positive way.”
His firm belief in a well-groomed image led Buice to create Edward’s Finds—a clothing hub for any man who “has respect, wisdom, passion, integrity and, very importantly wants to make sure his wardrobe reflects his personality.”
That personality can be expressed even when dressing-down as long as one is coordinated about it.
“It can be jeans and a nice pair of tennis shoes and shirt,” Buice acknowledged. “It’s just taking the time to think about what you want to wear. Edward’s Finds is targeted towards men who use clothes for self-expression. So, when you walk into a room, immediately, a stranger knows exactly who you are.”
In keeping with his philosophy, rather than buying clothes from outlets like Neiman Marcus or Nordstrom Rack and reselling them on Ebay—something he asserted “everybody does”—Buice wanted Edward’s Finds to set him apart and give his male customers the same mirror moment experienced by women who, with a pile of discarded choices scattered around them, finally find an outfit that is both flattering and distinctive.
“When I walk into a room, I don’t want to wear the same kind of clothes everyone else is wearing,” he said. “I love that kind of creativity. Men are taking more time to put together their clothes.”
So he forged partnerships with an international array of the distinctive including Mexico City-based Jewish designer Jaime Hemsani and Del Santo Cashmere in Assisi, Italy before Edward’s Finds went live Jan. 18.
While his clientele extends beyond the well-dressed Jewish man who seeks to create an elegant wardrobe, Buice sees such an individual as both an ambassador to his religion and his gender—something that can be accomplished without a statesman’s salary if one is prepared to “curate your closet.”
“You don’t have to have a walk-in closet with a wall of shoes, shirts and pants,” Buice said. “A few good shirts, a few good pants and you can mix-and-match in an infinite number of styles that make you feel comfortable.”
He added that even a well-tailored Orthodox suit can make all the difference in both a personal and outward declaration of confidence.
“You can get beautiful white shirts that aren’t thrown together or wrinkled,” Buice said. “You can make sure that the hem and the waistline on your black suit is correct and, remember, shoes make or break an outfit.”
Still, it’s hard to imagine even the most forward-thinking well-dressed man taking some of the selections seen on runways seriously. For example, is Business Class ready to embrace Thom Browne’s 2017 selection of skirts and pinstripe dresses for men? It secured a few headlines and sent Conservative talk-show hosts into their usual apoplectic rants about gender lines but seems a long way being able to exude confidence in a society still struggling to overcome a phobia about less than one percent of its population.
“What you see on the runway at a fashion show is not necessarily going to translate into everyday life,” Buice said. “Sure, designers can be outrageous but they’re connecting with clients. When people buy from a fashion-house they are choosing the lifestyle it’s showcasing.”
Buice intends to keep flying as he directs his energy towards a new set of clients.
“You have thirty seconds to grab someone’s attention,” he said. “I’m going to help make them count.”
Gretchen Rachel Hammond is an award-winning journalist and a full-time writer for Tablet Magazine.