Is 2017 going to be the end of the “menswear moment”?
If there’s one thing we’ve learned after studying our most popular posts from last year, it’s that you look to us for advice on trends. And this applies equally to trends worth embracing as well as those to avoid. So, as we now find ourservles in the year 2017, it’s time for us at HSS to present our annual “Trends We Hope Die” missive – a post/open letter to our community that always seems to delight.
But a funny thing happened as we sat down to take a look at the year that was in men’s fashion. It was hard to really nail down any new trends that surfaced in 2016.
Sure, it would be easy to pick on a select few, such as those Ryan Gosling Drive-style embroidered souvenir jackets or whatever ridiculousness is currently going on at Coach, but those are such minor blips on the radar that they hardly warrant even a passing mention.
And then there are those like athleisure, the urban beardsman, or a whole host of Instagram offenses that, because of their continued prevalence, have more or less transcended the “trend” classification, thereby not truly meeting the criteria for inclusion on a list such as this.
Any way you slice it, it certainly appears as though there weren’t as many new trends last year as there have been in the past. But here’s the big question:
Is this new-trend slow-down evidence that more guys are “getting with the program” or does it suggest that the “menswear moment” is waning?
Let’s take a look at both possibilities.
Do we want to believe that websites like this one and a handful of others “fighting the good fight” to help guys live a more timelessly stylish life have made an impact? You bet. While we most certainly enjoy the process of doing what we do, to be honest, it’s nice to know that all of that work is having a real effect on people. And thanks to all of you who take the time to comment and write to us, we know that’s the case.
However, we’re not naive. Nor are we going to try and oversell our influence. While we know we’ve made measurable strides in creating content we believe moves people towards what we consider “what looks right”, we’re not nearly as big as what we’ll call establishment publications. We’re niche. And that’s fine with us.
The point is that while we hope that men on a personal style journey heavy on the classics will find us, the reality is that they’re going to head to the towering skyscrapers before discovering the small, but killer, craft cocktail bar. If we continue to play our cards right, I’m confident we’ll get there, but that’s still a ways away.
A more plausible explanation for an observed slow down in new trend manufacturing is the idea that perhaps menswear – or, at least, menswear in the broader public consciousness – actually was a trend itself. And maybe now we’re getting pretty close to its sell-by date.
You’ve likely heard of this menswear moment. Once New York Fashion Week started hosting a men’s-only edition, there were any number of articles focused on the phenomenon. It makes cultural sense that such a thing would occur. Consider the widespread popularity of shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire with their focus on classic and dapper styles of dressing and it’s no surprise that more men would start to show an interest. But those shows are no longer on the air. Out of sight, out of mind?
A third hypothesis has to do with the so-called democratization of fashion. Some designers are showing men’s and women’s collections simultaneously and not necessarily in conjunction with the traditional fashion cycle. Social media has broken down so many style-related barriers, allowing close-knit communities to spring up and be confident in who they are and how they dress, free of any desire to adorn themselves how they’re being told to by the establishment.
And finally there is the ubiquity of everything. You can literally get anything you want, whenever you want it. You can have any trend from any era with the click of your mouse. And with so many trends available at the same time, it’s possible that a new trend could be the birth of the a-trend. What would that world look (and feel) like?
So what’s going to happen? Is menswear going to go away? Are we not going to care about it as much this year? Will people move on to something else? Have they already?
Menswear and the pursuit of classic men’s style is not going anywhere. What will be interesting, however, is to see how the industry that has sprung up around its popularity over the past five years or so will adapt to these changes. How many new online made to measure services have popped up just in the last year or two? A lot. I know because I get all the press releases. There will be winners and losers. No doubt.
The ones that survive, both in the editorial and retail worlds, will be the ones that have built their reputations, content and products on the idea of timelessness, quality and craftsmanship. If you’re building a business – again, in either editorial or retail – based on a passing fancy, you’re going to be gone and forgotten just like a trend.
It’s an interesting time. And it’s going to be an interesting year. We can’t wait to see what the landscape looks like when the dust settles.
We’ll still be here.
Thanks for reading.
He Spoke Style