The trade shows in Las Vegas were all that much more painful coming off of my recent trip to CIFF in Copenhagen where fashion trade shows are done right. Even comparing the experience in Copenhagen to that of Vegas is basically a crime in and of itself. It hasn’t taken me many visits to Scandinavia to truly recognize it as one of my favorite parts of the world. Copenhagen itself is wonderful in so many ways: the food, the people (nice and all good looking), the laid back vibe of the country, the unmatched ability to speak English (sorry world, us Muricans value that because we are inherently selfish and terrible), the active lifestyle and lastly the efficiency that can be found everywhere. Add in a bunch of international brands with good clothes and the recipe is perfect.
Why are things the way they are? What goes into the things I use in my everyday life. Those the questions that drive both my life and this website. The menswear landscape itself is littered with iconic items that each have their own story and purpose for why the way things are the way they are. Think work wear or anything derivative of military clothing. That’s the great part of men’s clothing, everything is really born out of use and function. It’s all very linear. To me, I’m just as interested in the people and the process of how the magazines I read come together as I am for the shoes I wear, the suits I buy or anything else. This week GQ unveiled a new fall style book called What to Wear Now (which hits newsstands on August 27th) and I saw it as a great opportunity to sit down with GQ Senior Editor Will Welch (a man who I hold in high regard and respect greatly) to talk personal uniforms, fall fashion and the making of one of GQ’s most stylish special editions ever.
ACL: How does What to Wear Now fit into the world of GQ style coverage?
Will Welch: It feels like that the more style stuff we do, like we have now done the Style Bible for two years…but that’s April. And then October, we’re working now on the second Style Playbook, so that’s kind of a spring and fall issue where the look of the cover is different and the style quotient is kind of amped up. And there have been three covers for all of those – three cover stars. And it feels like there’s no end to the hunger for more style stuff.
ACL: Yeah, it seems like this is something pushed mostly from the interest from the reader. Do you think guys are getting more interested in fashion now than they were?
WW: Yeah, I think so. I think there’s a lot of things happening. There’s more interesting stuff going on in men’s style. Guys are more interested in it, and are also okay with being…it increasingly. I think we’re almost past the point where there’s anything weird about being interested in style, you know? It’s like…it doesn’t seem less manly to want to know how your car runs, or how your suit is made. All of that, I think there’s a certain very organic “how shit works” aspect to the way men think in the stuff that we “nerd out” about. And now, style has just been added to the list. I think for a lot of guys, it was always there.
The Event: Wedding at the famed Four Seasons Restaurant in Manhattan.
Dress: Black Tie
The wedding was planned for a Saturday. On a Wednesday I realized that the attire was black tie and I do not own a tuxedo, at least one that I would be caught dead in. I needed to solve this problem, and do it quickly. This I don’t believe, is an isolated incident for men in the prime of wedding season.
Okay, tuxedo options, this is not going to be pretty. I could always rent a tux, right? I’m gonna look good –- that guy with the beard guarantees it, right? No way, I can’t go the Men’s Warehouse route. Too much disgusting fabric. Too painful. Anyway, the timing did not allow for renting a tux. Not even close. Damn-you planning ahead. Then I realized that the best option for me just a few blocks away at the J.Crew Ludlow Shop in TriBeCa. Boom. Game changer. Even Mr. Impossible Cool agrees.
On the surface Slowear doesn’t appear to be much different from a variety of other Italian brands. Nice fabrics, good construction and some interesting design, but not over designed. The difference becomes more clear the minute you actually wear the product. It’s at that point that you will very quickly place the brand on an altogether higher level. At dinner last night, my friend randomly asked me what my favorite brand was. I had no real answer, I was stumped. Today I woke up and saw this great video from Mr Porter profiling Slowear and my choice was right there. Now I am thinking that if I were deserted on an island and could only wear one brand for the rest of my life, I would easily choose Slowear.
A few months ago I made the trip to Ventura, California and stood in the parking lot where Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard embarked on one of his first climbing trips to Argentina. The point of my journey to Patagonia the company wasn’t to tour historic parking lots, it was the see a new collection of clothing that was inspired by the early and important Patagonia clothing that Yvon Chouinard created in that very same spot. Launching this September, the Patagonia Legacy collection is a small ten-piece capsule of product that traces back to the original items from the forty years of Patagonia. The scale of the company has grown over the past four decades, but the mission and the core values remain intact, much like the building in which it all started.
Before I made the trip to California, I saw the Legacy collection at a small preview in New York. I was, admittedly, pretty nervous going in to see it. Often times, these types of historically slanted collections can be tricky and scary to the purists. The last thing we want is some heavy-handed re-interpretation for no good reason. I learned at that preview, and also later in Ventura, that heavy-handed is not Patagonia’s M.O. The Legacy collection is a subtle and steady take on the already great items from the Patagonia’s past.
Every season at Pitti the guys from Gitman Bros Vintage do a little something playful, this year that meant making every sample in a short sleeve button-down, nearly all of them in crazy colored prints. I attribute all of this quirkiness to Gitman’s Minnesota bred leader Chris Olberding.
When I say “leader”, I mean to say that Chris is part designer and sales guy, part PR man and production manager. Along with his lone deputy, he’s basically a one man show. Some of you might remember him from one of the Pop Up Flea, where he would be hawking his Pennsylvania made wovens with much enthusiasm. That type of energy is his modus operandi. Anyone at one of the many European or North American tradeshows would agree, as would the staff of Gilli I’m guessing.
Recently, while in Los Angeles, I paid a visit to the new Wittmore pop-up shop on Third Street. The colorful space is brings to life Wittmore’s nicely curated and eclectic brand mix, which up until a few weeks ago has been an entirely digital shopping affair.
The physical and online stores are the product of my longtime friend and mentor Paul Witt. Wittmore is a culmination of Paul’s many years in the clothing business and his varied work across various creative disciplines, a few of which involved me as his underling. The shop presents Witt’s personality well, and represents a playful perspective that very much aligns with his personal taste and style. It’s an inclusive and needed respite from the world of pretentiousness that can often surround so many menswear brands and stores. Wittmore brings a keen eye and an injection of playfulness that makes clothing fun again.