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Articles

Democratization of #Menswear

Kamau Hosten

Sometime, during the throes of #menswear, the shift to rule-driven pursuits overruled that core individual approach to clothing and presence.

It was that devotion to the guidelines of tasteful dressing that prompted followers to adhere so fiercely to the point of costume. Subsequently, they, we really, derided peers for as little as a tie that was not at the appropriately askew angle.

The level of nerdery and exclusivity never sat well with me, despite my initial longing to blend in to this crowd of aesthetes. The jackets deemed worthy of conversation had to be from obscure corners of Florence or Naples. The trousers - never with belt loops- had to be cuffed. Plain bottom? The sign of an amateur or, even worse, that the wearer bought his trousers off the rack! It’s a very Us vs. Them mentality.

This collective body of individuals, yours truly included, found themselves at the fringe of a casual-society. The masses, we deemed, were untidy, their collars sank down below their jackets, which were boxy and bland. We found refuge in one another. That guy, over there, across the street one block away had some impressive waist suppression. His sleeve pitch was nearly flawless, we noticed from a distance. Similar quotes, like when Karl Lagerfeld pronounced, he could spot a Cifonelli shoulder from a distance of 100 meters resonated with us. Some of us worked directly with tailors or brands, observing the painstaking process of creating bespoke garments. Others poured their energy into research and historical elements relevant to modern clothing. Others launched their own lines, determined to put their own sartorial spin on the sphere of the industry. With that learned information came chips on the shoulders of some in the menswear crowd. That’s just a shitty way to operate.

It’s lovely now, these days, the lines are firmly blurred. Brands like Rowing Blazers and Todd Snyder are great representations of that blending of worlds. They’re taking the worlds of skilled craftsmanship and melding them with the streetwear and sportswear in ways thats both refreshing and accessible. I’m pleased. Listen, there will always be those who pride themselves on exclusivity; being part of a small members-only club. That’s wonderful. But I appreciate a move towards the democratization of menswear. It is, and should be, for everyone who seeks it out. Besides, looking good and feeling good has a transformative power that shouldn’t be reserved to the well versed.

To continue that evolution we must expand our definitions of what constitutes proper attire. Take into this the context of culture: background, surroundings, upbringing, exposure. All of these facets serve as perspective to one’s outlook towards clothing.