ACL in Newsweek

There is an article in the new issue of Newsweek (Feb. 9) about the rise of classic American clothing. I think Andrew Romano – the author and ACL reader – did a good job of getting to the core of this movement (having a hard time with the word trend, I am). The fact of the matter is, classics are classics and they will always be in play. Work wear, hunting gear, Americana is good in small doses. Like all things in life, moderation is key. Otherwise, it is a costume. The thing to remember is that it is good to support the few Americans that actually make things anymore. Shout out to Aaron Levine. What do you guys think of his outfit?

The Newsweek story is online here.


Comments on “ACL in Newsweek

    wayne pate on February 2, 2009 5:18 PM:

    Oh no! Not Aaron Levine’s photo again. Everybody
    leave the guy alone this time around.

    Ian on February 2, 2009 5:49 PM:

    Oh very cool! Congratulations, as well.

    jon on February 2, 2009 6:02 PM:

    Are you trying to say I dress in a costume?

    jon on February 2, 2009 6:10 PM:

    Also, just to supplement…
    I think that the woolrich fellow in the first picture looks great, as does Aaron Levine …

    But to address the moderation comment, wouldn’t you say maybe they’re both dancing on the edge of moderation and costume? In other words if that first guy wouldn’t be considered costume … what would?

    David on February 2, 2009 6:19 PM:

    I agree with most of the views in the article. I think it is a trend that is spreading to mainstream retailers. I was walking through Sears yesterday looking for cheap Levis and I saw knock-off Red Wings under Sear’s Die Hard and Craftsman labels.

    It’s costume if you’re wearing a field jacket and you’re nowhere near a forest. It’s same as if you were wearing a Steelers jersey and don’t play for them or are dressed like a Jedi and your last name isn’t Skywalker. If it brings you pleasure to wear it, that’s cool, but it is what it is. That’s part of the fantasy of fashion.

    Thom on February 2, 2009 6:54 PM:

    I had that Sartorialist photo on the blog and think it’s brilliant (keeping in mind that you are clearly baiting us.) It’s hard to see in this photo but he’s wearing a bowtie, and if flannel and bowties are a costume I want to sign up for the party.

    The line may be fine, but I think it comes down to how it’s carried off. Someone wearing full hunting regalia walking through the mall is going to look dense no matter what.

    wayne pate on February 2, 2009 6:59 PM:

    Bravo David! Some truth in them words. I hope someone would walk up to me and say I like your costume you got on. If you read this blog on a regular basis and dress in relation to it, my friend in my book your wearing a costume, because it doesn’t just come naturally. You may naturally be good at styling and putting certain things together that work but by no means is it natural. That shit is planned, thought out, hunted, acquired and assembled. Embrace the costume! Look at the male peacock, that mofo is strutting and flaunting that shit! Ok, his isn’t a costume but it might as well be.

    ita-darling on February 2, 2009 7:54 PM:

    Congrats on the write up. My question is: ( I am a woman asking this)- is the goal in purchasing and donning the American(a) wardrobe to achieve subsidence of continually purchasing new things?
    Does buying quality, hand-wrought items let you be free to buy less? I read this blog regularly, and I adore the [sic] trend because it reminds me of growing up in Texas, and seeing all of the men in my life in Carhartt, RedWings, my dad in Barbour, and Land’s End. Mostly American and utilitarian and broken in and constant, their style never changed, and it always looked good. So is there a disparity between some who are adopting this fashion as an ethos and those who are merely on the fashion express bandwagon?

    I only ask, because I am asking myself; if I love my Italian made Miu Miu and Margiela shoes and beautiful wool jersey vintage items, and latest acquisitions, how does a woman into quality and fashion translate this for herself? What would be the aesthetic equivalent for me? Have you looked at the lady’s Woolrich and Pendleton clothes lately?

    (BTW, my lady friends and I send all men we know to this site )

    Agostinho on February 2, 2009 8:10 PM:


    jon on February 2, 2009 8:44 PM:

    I’m not entirely satisfied with Wayne’s definition of costume.

    If I’m reading you correctly, then anything that doesn’t come naturally is costume. Your definition of unnatural is “planned, thought out, hunted, acquired and assembled”.

    So if I plan and think about my outfit, go out and hunt what I want down, get it, and put it on… it’s a costume? That can be applied to any style of clothing (not just Americana) and thus it would seem that if you have an idea of what you want to look like, you buy those clothes, and you wear them… it’s a costume. By that definition I can’t think of any sort of clothing that wouldn’t be costume.

    You’re touching on an extreme here, and there has to be a midpoint, I’m just trying to find out where that midpoint is.

    Steve K on February 2, 2009 9:36 PM:

    I think Wayne and Jon’s mini-debate is something that seems to be building steadily lately. How does one who is interested in fashion steer clear of becoming a fashion victim?

    The new blog A Treasury Of posted an interesting take on it a week or two back:

    To each his own, I say.

    Dave on February 2, 2009 9:51 PM:

    Great article! Jack Purcell was a Canadian Badminton player though, that falls under Canadiana ! At least we get one.

    jon on February 2, 2009 10:33 PM:


    Fantastic read there, I believe when it comes down to it that article really embodies the answer I was looking for. Thanks for the link.

    Brennan Woods on February 2, 2009 11:21 PM:

    Well done Michael!

    JP on February 2, 2009 11:29 PM:



    Ariel on February 3, 2009 1:18 AM:

    Nicely done Michael– good quotes. Best Newsweek article ever.

    Cyclo on February 3, 2009 5:54 AM:

    I think there is a very real danger of straying from dressing to dressing up with this gear. You could end up looking as odd as one of those fellows one occasionaly sees in Glasgow dressed for the rodeo and insisting on being addressed as “Wild Bill” or “Yosemite Mick”. Moderation is the key.
    PS as someone who lives in the actual countryside and occasionaly wears one for shootin’ stuff, I cannae get with the Barbour for city wear….it looks funny to me.

    Kevin on February 3, 2009 6:30 AM:

    My simple perspective is this. These are things that guys like no matter if they are fashionable or not. Atleast that is how I consider it since this is the only fashion related website I have ever visited in my life and I don’t even know how I found it in the first place but it has sort of opened up a whole new world that previously had no appeal. My peers have no idea that the things I have purchased lately are trendy. A friend of mine was recently given a filson jacket as a gift from his employer and he was showing it off on our annual deer hunt but had no idea what Filson was other than it was a nice sturdy jacket. I don’t live in NYC so if I sported a bowtie, even though I think they are cool, I would get my ass kicked. You have to draw the line somewhere and that line is different depending on where you live. Climate has a lot to do with it as well. I bought that woolrich coat and felt like an idiot after opening it up and putting it on since it is no way cold enough for something like that here in my part of Texas.
    For me, these are not just this seasons must haves but rather quality purchases intended to last years. If I feel silly wearing something then I’m not going to put it on. I’m not going to carry my stuff to work in a tool bag because I don’t need any tools and I work for a utility with guys who’s klein bags are filled with wrenches. This whole issue has made me think of my grandfather. We would go out to the ranch to work on the weekends with the family. He was a business man and always wore a suit and looked sharp. He would wear a suit and when we got to the ranch he would change into his grungy work clothes and we would work hard and then afterward, he’dclean up and put the suit back on and drive back to town. A real rancher and never wore cowboy boots.

    mensfreestyle on February 3, 2009 7:35 AM:

    I think the Newsweek article reflects something that guys are starting to realise more and more – that there can be a massive difference between what is fashionable and what is stylish.

    Putting quality items together in a simple, unfussy way may occasionally go out of fashion, but contrary to what NW say, they never stopped being chic.

    Ben on February 3, 2009 7:44 AM:

    I feel the same way about this becoming a “trend” or a “costume” the fashion-minded put on. Here’s the reason for the indignation, a story as old as the hills: I haven’t been wearing bean boots since I was 7 because some blog told me to, I grew up in Wisconsin and there is snow and slush; I’ve re-waxed my beaufort 4 times since I bought it 10 years ago; I’ve worn my green and purple Patagonia snap-t for so long that as early as 1997 a friend remarked on how cool the “old colors” were. When I read that someone in New York is selling a white oxford shirt for $400, I fear that my beloved Brooks Bros button downs might cause me to be mistaken for someone who drops $400 on a shirt – someone who last year was wearing a shiny lycra-blend number to Limelight and maybe snorting coke off a prostitute’s chest. Nah, I guess that’s stretching it. And after the fast-paced world of fashion has moved on, I’ll still be getting my loafers resoled and will probably miss inadvertently being, however momentarily, at the vanguard of a trend.

    Cherry@NewburghRestoration on February 3, 2009 9:32 AM:

    This is totally grandpa clothes…exactly what my grandpa (Pop) used to wear. However, I have seen a lot of flannels coming back and being used in a feminine way. Like you said-I like it in moderation

    Cherry@NewburghRestoration on February 3, 2009 9:33 AM:

    If you don’t do it in dosages you could start looking like Paul Bunyan….or worse his wife!

    John George on February 3, 2009 9:34 AM:

    Nice ink.

    I think that most clothing becomes iconic because it was at the height of practicality. The grown men of the 40s – 60s bought and wore this stuff because it was available and because they were raised by people who only owned one or two outfits. There was a greater desire for clothing to be durable and fit a wide variety of occasions. I think that when economic times get shaky, people revert to that line of thinking on some level. Personally, I’m realizing that as I develop into more of a grown man, I want to behave and look like one. Naturally, emulating my father and his father and any iconic image that I associate with them.

    What could be more sensible than building a wardrobe around a look that could be pulled off in 1910, 1943, 1966, 1981 and 2009. Chances are you won’t look the fool in 2035. Thus it’s not a trend.

    Though, I’m averse to spending $400 on a white OCBD. But I’m just as averse to spending less than $20 on one. I don’t want to have to replace it in less than 4 months, but I don’t want to cry when I get mustard on it either.

    Tintin on February 3, 2009 9:47 AM:

    MW- You amaze me. You speak like a man who is 60. And I mean that in a good way.

    AA on February 3, 2009 10:12 AM:

    I called bullshit here on the whole ‘workwear’ trend back in October. And it still stands- when all the urban/suburban boys who never worked a manual day of labor in their whole life start fetishizing blue collar “style” it’s called dress-up. And more accurately, appropriation.

    Clothes may temporarily disguise the fact that you’re just another affected, consumerist nancy boy, but we all secretly know that deep down inside you’re mourning the masculinity you never had.

    Why not get outside and actually do something instead? Actually BE a man instead of trying to dress up like one. Learn a real skill. Use your hands. Get them dirty (and then wash and moisturize with Keihls of course!).

    And blogging about how ‘rustic’ and ‘authentic’ everyone downtown is doesn’t count.

    Michael Williams on February 3, 2009 10:17 AM:

    Does reading a blog about being authentic and then commenting count as a skill? If so, I imagine you are the leader of that group. Shouldn’t you be outside?

    I should also note, AA, your IP address is coming from here:

    ???? Is that a lumber jack outfit I haven’t heard of?

    dustindeed on February 3, 2009 10:26 AM:

    to David in the 5th post, to further illustrate what a bunch of trendwhores Sears are, they even have a (gasp!) workwear dept in the men’s section!

    hate to break it to you, but Sears has been selling Red Wing “knock-offs” for probably 35-40 years. pretty much every dept store back in the day made moc-toe boots/shoes with the wedge sole.

    John George on February 3, 2009 10:34 AM:

    Oh snap! AA stands for abused by ACL.

    BTW, this article is a rash all over my interweb haunts. It’s getting play on Slate and Valet. Good on ya.

    Michael Williams on February 3, 2009 10:35 AM:

    AA, you get what you deserve. What’s the saying? Those who live in glass houses…


    wayne pate on February 3, 2009 10:47 AM:

    Basically I’m stating what I think defines a costume
    and it comes from my own day to day approach to my attire, my vision of what I want to put on for the day and the references/inspiration floating around in my head that influences the decision. Some days the photos of my grandfather during WWII who was a mechanic dressed in the classic military workpants or coveralls, a white t-shirt and a fitted mechanics cap flipped up (because he was a joker)is the inspiration of day. To me it is seen as a costume because it’s such a specific look that is iconic and has been worn that way by so many men. That particular combination of garments
    will automatically make you think of wartime photos, a character from a movie, etc. Perhaps using the term Uniform may be more suitable to some.

    wayne pate on February 3, 2009 11:26 AM:

    There’s always someone making comments (such as yourself) who has the lack of understanding (like yourself) of the purpose of this blog and once again some of us have to try and explain it to you. I think it’s safe to say for the majority of us who read this blog on a regular basis that we don’t pretend to be rustic and authentic (whatever you mean by that). How would you prefer us to dress…like you. There is something admirable about people who are interested in the historical side and heritage of American work wear and showing interests in it’s preservation. The way I see it we are doing a great deed to our country. If it was up to the true “rustic” “blue collar” guy, he wouldn’t give a shit about the great classics from years gone by and all these great brands and there products would be lost to the Japanese for good. At the end of the day it’s just clothing that we are talking about. Nothing more, nothing less. Attack the clothes not the individuals who wear them. BTW- What’s up with that awful looking alligator skin, low cut boot thingy on the home page of the company you work for?

    Jeremy on February 3, 2009 11:38 AM:

    hey michael – congrats, this is great. the guy pictured at the top of the newsweek article, see him all the time in park slope.

    Big Kid on February 3, 2009 11:57 AM:

    Haha….AA is an advertising schmuck like me, that’s why he is so mad. He spends his whole day fabricating the authenticity of phony brands.

    Tintin on February 3, 2009 12:12 PM:

    I was wondering if it’s ok to cuff Filson tin cloth carpenter pants?

    Rob on February 3, 2009 2:39 PM:

    @ Tintin:

    Only if they’re pleated. on February 3, 2009 2:57 PM:

    Gosh, you boys are getting rowdy in here!

    I think it’s un-gentlemanly to ridicule anyone’s style. I’d rather be a poser or a fashion-victim than a snob. So even though AA maybe had it coming, let’s lay off him.

    None of us are 100 percent immune to the powers of trend. This idea that you’re heroic and noble if you ignore anything remotely resembling a trend is a bit self-righteous.

    Classics and trends are the two primaries of a wardrobe and we each can benefit from the use of them both. And sometimes the lines blur.

    But this is fashion, not Iraq, not turf wars. Let’s enjoy it and each other. We should all maintain a sense of humor about what we wear and why. It’ll make the trenches of the ACL forums less deadly.

    Dandy Nihilism on February 3, 2009 3:16 PM:

    There is something to be said that Americans should have a sort of consolidated stylistic vision to embrace. Even if it just historicized/romanticized vision of what America was or should be. There should be virtues, idioms, and materials that help to define what is American. It could be easily argued that quality, durable goods are positive material items this country should embrace. Especially from an economic standpoint (re: America’s trade deficit, poorly manufactured foreign goods, and so forth).

    There is also something to be said, as the ostracized poster above hearkened to, about the fetishization of the blue collar/working class image. It is deplorable for those to portray-superficially-experiences and virtues they lack. However, people of all flavors are guilty of this cultural transgression. Well-heeled downtown professionals as well as middle class collegiate poseur-Marxists hold up both ends of the spectrum of this social faux pas.

    Michael Williams on February 3, 2009 3:34 PM:

    Well said Dandy. Look, I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, but AA continually comments with the same story about everyone on here (interested in workwear, etc.) being fake. Meanwhile, he is working for a multinational ad agency. Someone has to call no joy.

    If you like clothes wear them, just don’t dress like you are on an oil rig if you are in Manhattan. Period.


    Tintin on February 3, 2009 3:54 PM:

    Rob, I always cuff flat front.

    MW, Thanks for sharing. I did something for you.

    jg on February 3, 2009 3:56 PM:

    !NEW! !YORK!, !NEW! !YORK!

    What a wunnerful town!

    Ol’ Bowery-bum “look”‘s up!

    & Hedge Fund “look”‘s down!

    Rob on February 3, 2009 5:53 PM:

    Tinin – Me too, and I always get push-back and then a resigned shrug everywhere other than J. Press.

    WRT this whole issue of when something is “authentic” or a “costume”, while I’d agree that Mr. Levine looks overly contrived, I find it amusing that some folks are so incensed over the appropriation of trad/prep clothes or blue collar work-wear by the [mostly male] fashion-conscious. While I can’t speak for any of the men pictured above or their cohort [if they even constitute one] I suspect few if any see themselves as more or less a “real men” by reason of a pair of selvage jeans or work-boots. Hippies hated it when Joe Lunchpail Dick Banker started wearing their hair long, grunge-era hipsters got worked up when Marc Jacobs started selling EUS girls $500 “flannel shirts”, and now Dick Banker and Joe Lunchpail are feeling violated because their clothes [God forbid they’d be called fashions or costumes] are being worn by hipsters who somehow haven’t earned the right to.

    PSA: It’s … all … just … clothes.

    wmc on February 3, 2009 6:38 PM:


    To address the last part of your post, whilst this doesn’t seem like a womenswear-friendly ‘trend’, I’ve always found this look surprisingly easy to translate.

    Concentrating on the 1950s element of Americana/workwear was a good starting point for me. The Library of Congress archives proved to be a great source of inspiration for a female take on this look. While I’m not suggesting a head-to-toe lady-welder outfit there are plenty of elements that can be borrowed if the full look is a step too far. The bandana headscarf, the check shirt, high-waisted wider fit denim. Perhaps items like cowichan/curling cardigans, vintage varsity sweaters etc are a little easier to wear (if more Americana than workwear.)

    Ebay is of course a great place to start, searching for xs or boys sizes requires patience but I’ve managed to find some really nice old canvas 10-X hunting jackets, vintage 501s, Mackinaws etc to fit my relatively small frame, with unisex items like the LL Bean Maine boot and Barbour incredibly easy to get hold of.

    The fact is, if you’re a fan of ultra feminine or girly then this might not be for you. I’ve long been a fan of vintage workwear, it’s just been a case of finding ways of making it work for me.

    I’d also recommend (featured in ACL links) as a great resource for a female take on functional/traditional clothing.

    Tom Paine on February 3, 2009 8:38 PM:

    My take is you can’t beat quality and timeless clothes. A great pair of jeans, a workshirt, aviator sunglasses, a pair of boots, and you’re good to go.

    David on February 4, 2009 12:16 AM:

    This thread has been way more interesting than the actual article that spawned it.

    wayne pate on February 4, 2009 9:31 AM:

    Costume- (as defined in The Concise Oxford Dictionary.) Style or fashion of dress or attire, esp.
    of a particular nation, class or period.

    Well folks, there you have it. I hope your comfortable in your costume of choice today.

    Rick on February 4, 2009 9:52 AM:

    Don’t be fooled everything you all wear is a costume, that is what fashion is. It is your costume that is what makes taste and it doesn’t have to please everyone, it should just make you feel good. It would be funny to all the posters who have so much to say about Workwear Woolrich to see your attire from day to day posted and let everyone comment on your attire. I would bet everyone would take abuse!!!! Everyone.

    Jake on February 4, 2009 11:48 AM:

    You guys are hilarious ! Seems like a bunch of intelligent fellows over-analyzing this from their cubicles in Manhattan. This is definetly a trend and if you hadn’t noticed trends are always circular, they draw from the past and return with a slight twist. These are not the same brands anymore. Filson, Woolrich, Redwing. They know you like them and they are updating themselves accordingly with new fits, fabrics and collaborations. If you were preppy before trust me It’s obvious , you still wear you khaki’s a certain way and carry yourself a certain way. Nobody will confuse you for a trendy guy.

    Sam on February 4, 2009 11:56 AM:

    I’m totally excited about this movement in fashion toward home grown traditional garments. I hunt, fish, and camp. I grew up doing it. I also grew up in a union household and always buy American when I can. I work as a biologist. The best part is, all of my field clothes can be easily converted with a few accessories to fashion forward (is that an oxymoron) outfit/attire.


    Sam on February 4, 2009 12:15 PM:

    Ok, so I read some of you comments above. I was particularly amused by AA comments on all of yall’s supposed fake outdoorsyness. Really, do none of you enjoy the outdoors. Are none of you sportsmen in any sense of the word. I work in an office most of the time ( I am a biologist so I do get out in the field at least 2 days a month for work), but I still go out and hunt and fish when I can. I have three kids now, so I dont get to hunt and fish as much as I would like. But I still make time for it. There has to be some others who enjoy this forum that are like me….right? In addition, who cares if you hunt every day of the duck season or one day of the duck season. Or if you only get out to fish on vacation during the summer. It really doesnt matter if you enjoy what you are wearing and you can pull off the look.

    CHeers to you all and keep up the great comments.

    Michael Williams on February 4, 2009 12:18 PM:

    Cheers to you Sam for breathing some fresh air into the comments.


    louise on February 5, 2009 9:05 PM:

    Tsk, tsk fellas.
    I find this analysis of the prominence of American-made work wear among its American clientèle to be very superficial and missing the most exciting possibility of this sartorial “trend” – that is a resurgence in American nationalism. Not anything militaristic but a rekindling of belief in America as a country that is good and that can support itself from the inside. These certainly are gloomy times for our nation, but the election of Obama signals a new epoch in our society and culture and IMO this Americana trend is a visual manifestation of our reclamation of the finer tenets that our country was built on, and visually gestures towards what has been, for the most part, a proud history.
    I would also like to think that one’s buying this stuff does come from a deep seated desire to support things made in America, by fellow Americans. That in itself seems pretty hip to me. And I would love to see this “trend” head more broadly in that direction. Let’s turn that giant sucking sound off.
    Or am I totally off?

    Secondarily, I really hope that womens wear will head in the same direction, perhaps with a little more Katherine Hepburn/Annie Hall feel.

    wayne pate on February 6, 2009 8:43 AM:

    Louise I think you have a little catching up to do.
    The topic of “resurgence in American nationalism”
    is a daily focal point around these parts. In most of the coverage on established American brands and emerging new ones you get reactions from all sides.
    I would like to agree with you that perhaps this is the beginning of a renewed appreciation in American heritage and the young American male’s fashion aesthetic. But to be honest I’m quiet jaded at this point because I’ve been flying this flag for years and I never thought I’d see the day when all these brands I’ve been into and have worn for years become this great new trend. It’s irritating to see some of these young guys come along and act like they’ve discovered fire. Having said that, I guess it’s better than it not happening at all.

    Peter on February 7, 2009 7:49 PM:

    I find all the chest-beating in the comments interesting. Obviously this look has tapped into a peculiarly male area of insecurity, and the heat in the responses shows that it’s not “just fashion” or “just clothes.” What we wear is a signifier; it slots us into a particular place in society, whether it’s something we decide (Today, I’m going to dress like Joey Ramone in 1978) or our work (I sell bonds, and all bond traders wear gray flannel suits, or whatever bond traders wear…). So when we see some bearded guy in a Woolrich coat in SoHo, it sort of freaks us out, and reminds us how far away we are from our hunter/gatherer ancestors. I’m not really being facetious here.

    angelo on February 7, 2009 9:08 PM:

    Jeans used to be exclusively workwear and now their the most popular item of clothing in the world. Work boots are boots. Being someone who has to navigate being stylish and dealing with harsh weather on a daily basis, I do feel a bit more of a right to rugged attire, but in the end it’s just clothes. Were people hating on Wu-Tang for bringing Carhartt into hip-hop culture?

    angelo on February 7, 2009 9:08 PM:

    Jesus, I wrote their when I meant they’re. Please forgive me.

Comments are closed.