Photographer Scott Schuman, via his street style blog "The Sartorialist", created the #menswear movement. But he couldn’t have done it without a major recession.
I’ve been using the forced downtime of the pandemic to talk about the menswear industry with people in the business all around the world. I learned that a surprising number of us in the online menswear world (guys like Angel, Guerre, Sox, Rich Fresh) all have something in common; we started honing our skills and building or businesses in or around 2008/2009.
Now, it's no secret that new ideas and new businesses often come out of economic recessions - Uber, Slack, Air BnB all came out of the Great Recession of 2008.
What’s interesting about the menswear movement of 2009 is that it exploded quickly and became a global phenomenon. By 2011/2012 men from all over the world flocked like peacocks to Pitti Uomo wearing some of the most elaborate and decorative menswear we had seen in decades. These bold sartorial outfits full of color and pattern - but rooted in classic tailoring - would have been impossible to imagine just 5 years earlier (think about the fashion of 2006 - mostly baggy jeans, sneakers, maybe some Ed Hardy). And similarly, these over-the-top outfits would all but disappear 5 years later (think about the fashion of 2017 - the beginning of athleisure, designer sweat pants, etc).
It was a bubble. A wave. A trend. Something "new" (or old but in a new way) that we hadn't seen before. Both the daring outfits, and the ease of shooting high quality photography, were brand new. It was street style blogging on steroids. It was also a celebration of economic recovery powered by a group of scrappy entrepreneurs who had no choice but to stick to their creative devices.
The truth is there would be no AOS without the mortgage crisis of 2008.
The only reason I started a menswear blog is because I didn’t get hired on Wall Street (after a disastrous internship on the trading floor at Citibank during the summer of 2008).
So here's the good news: I can feel it happening again.
2020 is like 2009 all over again.
The economy is in bad shape. And frankly, so is men's style.
The difference this time is that people aren't just sick of the trends that have dominated fashion for the past 5 years (fast fashion, cheap trends, comfort, athleisure, streetwear) but these products and supply chains are now seen as destructive and dangerous.
My prediction is another comeback of classic menswear (which seems to trend every ~10 years anyway) propelled by a young and hungry crop of social media savvy creatives who will outline the new narratives. Only this time, the focus will be less on "look at how cool this photo is" and more "look at how sustainable this product is".
The good news is (as you already know if you've read more than 5 articles on this website) classic menswear is synonymous with sustainability. It's all about quality, versatility and longevity - three core values that are desperately needed in the clothing industry (and I think craved by the consumer as well).
So when this whole COVID-19 thing hits our rearview, I'm calling for the ROARING 2020's - only this time we'll smoke less cigarettes, wear softer tailoring, and hopefully find a way to live in harmony with the world around us.
Thanks, as always, for reading. Comment below.
Yours in style,