ALBANY — Manifesting one’s own success is Tony Robbins-level advice people drop thousands of dollars to hear, but you need only read this article on Mike Schinnerer to witness the reality of it.
Schinnerer brushed the dust off his Stitched brand earlier this month with the launch of a new, online monthly magazine. From the rip off it’s February 1 start date, it shines a New York City vibe on a local fashion scene. Didn’t know we had a local fashion scene? It’s not there. Not yet.
Stitchedny.com picked up where Schinnerer last left off. A glitzy MTV-style video cuts and transitions between the flashy models and high energy rock stars featured in his ambitious fashion show at Times Union Center in 2019. The man responsible for throwing high-end masquerade galas for charity wielded his proverbial wand, corralled a who’s who list of local personalities around fashion designers with ties to the area.
That last part is what’s important, because where he sees area colleges cultivating tomorrow’s trendsetters, he sees that talent migrating down to New York City’s 7th Avenue. There’s no market in Albany to support it, and he sees no reason for that to be true.
“All those things that were happening in a big city were not happening here. For whatever reason,” Schinnerer said, a Rotterdam native, Mohonasen graduate, and someone who is well aware of Albany’s collective inferiority complex. “I just wanted to show that we could do it. That was the big one, was going to Stitched in the Times Union Center. I took a huge risk on that, financially. I just said, if I’m going to do this in the Albany area — which I think we can — I’m going to do it big. That’s basically my attitude with doing these projects; is to go in big or don’t do them at all.”
Schinnerer is a sports guy who went rumblin’-bumblin’-stumblin’ into a fashion career. As an undergraduate, he was tasked with finding his own internship. His advisor told him to think of three companies and pick up the phone. From there, the fledgling was kicked out of the nest to fly on his own.
His first choice was Sports Illustrated. The Michael Jordan fan had an eye for magazines, and what better destination than to land a position at the top sports weekly in the world? Queue up that Frank Sinatra record and get set to lay the needle down.
It was the 90s. AOL had yet to help the internet lay waste to the print industry. SI was on the newsstands what ESPN was to cable television. It boasts nearly 3 million subscribers and more than 20 million readers picked it up week after week. It was kicking out eye-popping pictures from award-winning photographers capturing images that would instantly become icons, and later, statues.
Athletes, growing ever more conscious of their brand, knew of SI’s impact. It’s no longer a secret how Jordan and SI photographer Walter Iooss, Jr. collaborated to set up the jump man shot from the 1988 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Iooss did it out of necessity. He needed to capture his Airness’ face. Hundreds of photographs have archived that contest-winning dunk. In SI’s popular poster series, it used photographer Andy Bernstein’s shot. Jordan’s face is somewhat blurred as he soars right-to-left through the frame. Iooss’ shot, taken from the baseline where Jordan directed him to be, is tack sharp. That attention to detail, aided by a conversation with his subject three hours before, has allowed the photo to be published in the magazine many times over.
Schinnerer reached SI’s creative director to pitch an internship opportunity. He was told the magazine didn’t host interns. He didn’t let the person off the phone, though. He asked, instead, to travel down to the office for a sample interview. Just to gain the experience. They accepted.
“When I got in there, I kind of knocked his socks off with my design work,” Schinnerer said.
Two days later, he received a phone call. “You’re our intern, now.”
He started as a design intern, and soon helped with photography. Julie Campbell’s office was close by. Campbell was the founding editor of the magazine’s swimsuit issue that reached 70 million readers each year. Her covers made household names out of Carol Alt, Kathy Ireland and more. As much power as she wielded, Schinnerer described her as “very nice,” and would often catch up with her in casual conversations as they walked by. One day she tapped him on the shoulder with a favor to ask. The magazine wanted to do an online chat featuring models Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks on America Online. She needed help. It was a starstruck moment that would lead the college undergrad down a prophetic path.
“Heidi Klum. Tyra Banks,” Schinnerer said. “They were in the office. Talking. To me.” He’d field the questions and type back out as each of the supermodels answered. He took the opportunity to ask his own questions. “Back then is when I started asking questions about fashion.”
For seven years, Schinnerer’s name appeared on the mastheads of several Gotham-based publications, including SI, Rolling Stone, Maxim and The Source. Before he was done with SI, he’d design both the swimsuit edition’s 50th anniversary edition and a Michael Jordan commemorative edition that he was able to hand deliver to his childhood idol.
Since moving back to the Capital District in 2001, Schinnerer has bookended 26 fashion shows between his first at the National Museum of Dance & Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs and a second Stitched event in Hudson shortly before virus-related shutdowns. In the similar vein as his Maxim roots, he launched a calendar and resource guide featuring dozens of local models. He said it was to show people hung up on a Smallbany perspective, “that cool things can happen here as well. You just need someone to push it.”
The switch was flipped on Stitchedny.com on February 1. Without any previews or marketing, the site garnered 1,600 unique views in the first 24 hours. Schinnerer’s staff includes Managing Editor Mell Meus, Webmaster Ben Hayden, Video Director Thom Williams, and several contributors. He said the focus of his editorial content will continue to be on fashion trendsetters with ties to the Capital District, all the while directing eyes back here. He’s envisioned a Fashion Row down Albany’s Pearl Street before. He’s continuing to push cool things out, energizing the region into embracing its talent.
“You and I have talked many times about how I don’t think the arts are supported that well in Albany, especially financially,” he said. “If you’re not going to be paid for what you do, or for what you love, you’ve got to create the opportunity by yourself.”