HAUTE SNOBBERY: the impact of consumer fashion in the general male population
WHY FASHION, RETAIL AND THE MALE DEMOGRAPHIC REMAIN DIVIDED…
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a rather large college party at University (think beer, sweat and music so loud that it makes my internal organs rupture) where we were required (I use that word loosely) to dress semi-formally to the occasion. Within 5 minutes of being at the venue, I was approached by a gentlemen who began by commenting negatively on how ‘overdressed’ I was and then proceeded to pay me a significant compliment by telling me how pretentious the pursuits of fashion, menswear, and retail blogging were- all of which he summarily related back to me and why my treasuring of said pursuits made me a bad person (I struggle to understand why people so bent on hating looking put-together would spend time reading a blog dedicated to this).
While I admit this gentleman’s diagnosis may have had something to do with the manner in which I communicate (I defy those who know me to find a time in which I’ve used the word ‘chicks’, ‘footy’ or ‘loose’ within 10 nautical miles of one another in a non-ironic sense of those words) I could not help but offer a retort within the Tumblr-sphere to this blatantly offensive assertion that men who care for and covet clothing are ‘queer, gay, up themselves’ et cetera.
The rise of interest in menswear that we are experiencing the world over is now a result more than anything of globalisation: international marketing, the advent of the internet and the absence of ‘needless mark-ups’ (read ‘Neiman Marcus’) mean that where ‘fashion’ (as much as I hate that word) was once inaccessible to a vast majority of young men/working men it now finds an audience in these gents by appealing to their demographic, price point and tapping a resource that historically have found it hard to really form an interest in an area they were cut off from.
I myself recollect that at a young age, despite my father’s sartorial gifts to me my interest in menswear only sparked as a result of the digital age, the ability to really interact with my peers about outfits and consequently dress as a member of a ‘group’. Apparently however, remnants of generation X feel negatively on what they deem a fetishistic interest in clothes, and characterize this with assertions that men who care about their appearance must be gay, weird or frankly ‘shows offs’.
While the great cities of New York, London, Shanghai and Tokyo remain shining exclusions to this general rule of male ‘buffoonery over bespoke’ we must confront this exact fact: that they are THE EXCEPTIONS. Dominant social discourses in areas of the world like small town Virginia, mining heavy North Queensland and rural SA mean that while consumer fashion is spreading like wildfire for us boys’ through the online sphere this is but a fractional representation of what the rest of us ‘men’ (so to speak)really think of fastidious attention to detail when dressing. It is clear that for the dominant menswear scene to progress to where we want we are going to have to wait a couple more years so that the our values system integrates better with the majority of men who frankly couldn’t tell the difference between a shawl and a peak.
How else do you explain someone mistaking a madras check shirt for ‘a farmer’s tee’? Does it look like the blazer over the top of it is a practical complement to the act of non-mechanized agricultural harvesting?!?!