became a missive of sorts. These are my opinions and no one else’s. Take it for what it’s worth.
Last night, a recently released video began making the rounds that once again brought to the light the proliferation (and potential jumping-the-shark) of street style. Created by Garage Magazine, the short documentary prominently featured Tim Blanks (fashion vet and journalist at Style.com), as well as a host of style bloggers and experts. It’s Blanks that has the most interesting opinions and quotes, while some of the other photographers and bloggers merely bemoan the days of old when they could (*gasp*) build a rapport with their subjects before shooting them.
Look, I’ll be honest — street style and the proliferation of blogs (in this humble writer’s opinion) was the slow-burning catalyst for men everywhere to suddenly start caring about how they dressed. It enabled men to start following very real, modern style icons (even if when asked, they all invariably said Steve McQueen). Guys like Nick Wooster, Justin Doss, and the Italian Fraternity of Well-Dressed Men became the new mega-star athlete. We put these guys up on a pedestal as a style to aspire to. We hoped that one day we could be that sprezzy.
That was two years ago. What now? At some point it becomes a parody of itself and perhaps we’ve already reached the point of no return. Says Blanks, “Initially, it seemed charming, but this season I just thought, ‘Enough.’” And can you blame him? Walking around Pitti Uomo or Fashion Week, the untrained eye can easily assume the show is just as much (if not more) outside as it is inside the tents. And frankly, it’s not like photographers necessarily capture all different types of people — they all have their favorites as Blanks points out — causing a sea of sameness (from different angles) across the style sites and the images they’ve commissioned. Fashionistos have to resort (I assume) to what is practically a mad scientist approach to personal style, professional peacockers undoubtedly looking to test their hypotheses – If I wear X outfit and walk slowly through Lincoln Center, then I will get snapped by Y photographers. How does that do that anything for the state of fashion, especially men’s? We’ve got guys proliferating trends just because they can, which I suppose begs a bigger question – if you’re one of the oft jested about #menswear illuminati (myself included), does great style come with great responsibility? (Pardon the obvious the reference.)
Regardless of what you may think, this somewhat close (yet undeniably clique-y) group of 20-somethings I’m lucky enough to call my friends, colleagues, and hesitant members of #menswear are largely responsible for a lot of the good and a lot of the bad in the ONLINE state of menswear. And that’s an important distinction to make. It’s kind of like when people say the music industry has gone to hell. That’s completely incorrect. The recording industry has gone to hell; the music industry is as vibrant as ever thanks wholly to the Internet. Unfortunately, it’s had the adverse affect on menswear — we’ve created “monsters, not Gods” as Blanks bluntly observes in the aforementioned video.
At the end of the day, men’s fashion is having its music industry moment. It’s become so disrupted by its own democratization (at one point it’s strength) that no one knows what’s real anymore. Is it too late to go back to 2010? Can we achieve that level of fandom and true reporting again — the kind of stuff that made most of us fall in love with this world in the first place? I think so. We just have to hold ourselves to a higher standard.