I started my design career back in the mid 80s after graduating from The Fashion Institute of Technology in Menswear Design and Marketing. Two weeks after accepting the Maurice Bidderman Award on the stage at Radio City, I was in Italy, looking at the Baptistery East doors. Since then, I’ve been around the world and have worked as a designer in textiles, menswear, graphics, and the web. As varied and dynamic as my career has been thus far – and I have no reason to believe it will be otherwise in the years to come – my first love remains menswear.
Though I’ve often considered writing about it, it’s only now that I find myself beginning that practice. Research of the last week or so has turned up a a standout blog called The Sartorialist and another that makes sense to me, A Suitable Wardrobe. Both are worth checking out if you don’t know them. If you do, and I’m way behind, my apologies.
What really brought this full circle for me is an issue of Monocle Magazine. If you’re unfamiliar with this publication, it’s based in London, with offices sprinkled across the globe and now retail shops that sell a small variety of items such as signature luggage, fragrances, and stationary just to name a few. The magazine has always intrigued me on the stands, but this is the first time I’ve ever purchased a copy. They are quite thick – this July/August issue is 250 pages, and smaller in dimension than most standard magazine. What I really now like about it is that it’s a very international magazine, covering stories and topics from around the world. I get to peak into cafes in Australia, see what’s up at a local grocer in Athens (Greece, not Ohio), and learn much more than I ever knew about one of my favorite cities, Florence, Italy.
The trend I’m really digging is “Urban Mountaineering”. I’ve worked on a few clothing lines that have attempted to mix technical garment pieces with traditional foundations and I still have the only sample in the known universe of a Harris Tweed, suede-elbow-patched, single vent jacket with totally technical innards. The lining was borrowed from a technical outwear piece, complete with mesh gear holders, zipped pockets, and wind-stop technology.
Two companies highlighted in a video which is sadly no longer available are Canada Goose and Arc’teryx, both Canadian companies enjoying a renaissance of sorts as this trend starts to get some traction. The Arc’tereyx rep talks about “garments as tools”, and reimagining for the urban environment. To me, this is right on target and the underlying thought process is key. Being able to take a look at history while understanding and embracing the hottest new technology is where menswear can begin to grow, in my humble opinion.
Adding a great tech vest under a tweed jacket with a bold scarf rocks. Or step out in some of the newly imagined hiking boots you’ll see in the video. With a bit of color and humor, they’re not just for the dusty trail anymore. Wear them in the urban jungle, on your hikes to the office, or showroom, or studio.
So, is there a new revival in menswear? While the answer certainly won’t come from this one video(l), or from this article, I’m going to go with the proponents of this look and this trend and say that this can be a way to breathe some new life into an almost dead industry. Men – and I don’t care who you are or what you do – like to look good. We like to feel good with what we wear and we like to know that others take notice.
Thanks for stopping by,
The Chief Laughing Raven