Jian DeLeon wrote a piece titled “Addressing #Menswear’s Existential Crisis” and after reading it a few times I’d like to share my thoughts on the matter.
#Menswear blogging is dying. It’s being crushed underneath the weight of its own ego and is selling out. It is throwing its double monks out the window and buying Jordans. It is trading an unstructured Boglioli sportcoat for a Rick Owens shawl. It is removing thoughtful commentary on how dudes dress themselves and replacing it with clickbait-y lists meant to drive traffic and make sure we can continue getting the $40 haircuts at Blind Barber that we get for free.
I don’t think #menswear blogging is dying in the sense of the word. But Jian is absolutely right that many are selling out. That’s because the guys who were the pioneers were recruited to sell someone else’s agenda. I understand that these guys need to make a living but it didn’t have to mean selling out. I always strive to strike a balance with those who want to work with me and make sure I don’t sell out. If I don’t think the brand speaks to me I decline the offer.
One way is to help define his lifestyle. You’ve already told him what clothes he wears, so now what food does he eat? Where does he stay when he travels? What kind of alcohol does he drink? More importantly, you tell him what duds were cool a week ago and what duds are cool now? He is tired of Flyknits. He is over Patrik Ervell. So, like A$AP Rocky says, clothes get weirder. And more obscure. Maybe he’s feeling Blue Blue Japan. Maybe he’s down to rock a poncho. You keep pushing the clothing envelope, chasing that “new new” and the admittedly insufferable desire to be up on something before everyone else.
I’ve always believed that one’s lifestyle defines one’s style. If you work in a corporate environment then you dress for that particular environment. If you commute a lot then you choose bags and footwear in a certain way. You don’t build a wardrobe around tees and shorts because you’ll only wear them during the weekend.
It’s also important to remember that the guys pushing the envelope are being paid to do so. Sure it looks great but we should look at our lifestyle and see if a certain style is applicable to ourselves. Otherwise it just doesn’t make sense. I can appreciate streetwear but I’m simply not that kind of guy. I’ve been holding out on buying a pair of New Balance because wearing them only once a week doesn’t sound like a good buy.
But do you know what #Menswear blogging needs most? More voice, less reblogs. Look at what’s out there and don’t be afraid to say, “Fuck that noise, I know what’s cool!” Be inspired to do your own thing. Above all: Work on a craft, don’t just gun for a job. Having been fortunate enough to write about menswear for about five years, I didn’t actually start getting paid for it until year three. If you’re trying to be a writer, then for the love of god, read. Read. Read. Read. Read until you come across something that least inspires enough feeling in you, good or bad, to write a response, instead of simply rehashing.
I agree with having more voice and less reblogs. Tumblr has become boring with people reblogging the same stuff over and over again. I don’t even post much on my own Tumblr these days. I’ve since moved to my own blog so I can write and get out of the vicious cycle of continuously reblogging the best photos I saw.
I can also relate to Jian’s situation wherein he got paid starting year three. I only started taking writing gigs last year when my blog was about two and a half years old. And I continuously read not just blogs but also magazines and books. Menswear exists not only on the web and these publications can offer something different instead of the same photos you see on your Tumblr dashboard.
The audience of #menswear isn’t the same three or four years ago. The men that bought into the idea that clothes made the man are now older, are probably earning more and most likely more sophisticated in taste. I know this for a fact because I’ve noticed it in myself. I choose which ideas and items to buy into and which ones to ignore. Personal style is a journey that involves filtering the noise and choosing what matters. And that’s what I’m doing with this blog.