Tag Archives: Louis Boston Fashion for women

One Style Does Not Fit All

Rhetoric (n.): The art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing…

There’s an evolution going on in fashion, and my hope is that you’ll take the time to find the pieces that have meaning to you, before the rhetoric of new trends are spoon-fed to you from the pages of magazines.

While those glossies have always been around, and serve a great purpose to many, it’s important to understand that most of the trends they write about are manufactured by an industry to suit the season.

In other words, it’s no secret that some women (and men for that matter) are being force-fed a “one style fits all” mentality. And clearly our society is NOT one style fits all. Not every body is meant to fit in skinny jeans, and not every breast was meant to be revealed in a skin-tight top. I understand that yoga pants are a “thing,” but there’s a time and a place. We don’t all want to see an ass wrapped in spandex while in line at the dry cleaners. (I’m sorry, but it’s true)

People seem to be spilling out of their clothing lately, and for some reason they think that’s okay.

But, it’s not.

Creating a trend to push people into buying is not the only way.  As a matter of fact some of the most exciting fashion “trends” actually originated in society, based on an authentic sign of the times.

The 70’s were a shining example. People didn’t wait for “Punk” to appear on the pages of Vogue before they sought it out. The clothing was part of a bigger, cultural movement before it became “The Punk Look.” It was completely organic before it was pursued, embraced, and ultimately devoured by a generation starved for something unique and different.

Another obvious example was “Deconstruction,” or “Grunge.” The movement, initially, had nothing to do with fashion, but everything to do with music and culture and a severe socioeconomic backlash that was sweeping the world.

Speaking of sweeping the world…have you met the Millennials? They’re young, influential, and sitting in various positions on the current socioeconomic pyramid: Some have more money than they know what to do with (Yummies), and others can’t seem to find a job…even with a very expensive University degree in their pocket. But regardless of their position they’re demanding and consuming everything, even (sadly) the skin-tight trends.

But it’s also because of this that the world seems to be on the brink of real change. And it’s important to notice again how THIS is what can propel people, and therefore fashion, forward.

So turn off your smart phones, shut your magazines, and take to the streets. If you do you’ll see that a compelling mixture of volume, athletic luxury and urban flavor now embodies an evolution of fashion design that hasn’t really been done before.

Today, the architecture of clothing has taken center stage. “Volume,” in fashion, might sound intimidating, but it’s not. Volume, done correctly, will enable you to feel comfortable, but look interesting and impeccable. It’s not about larger sizes or cuts of clothing, it’s about moving fabric away from the body. It’s about evoking a bit of mystery. And in this world, obsessed with fast and furious consumption, where almost nothing is sacred, mystery can be a very good thing.

Additionally, athletic influence in fashion has become a legitimate game changer. Where blazers and jeans and yoga pants held court, athletic influenced jackets, shorts and pants are taking over. Pieces are being created to be comfortable, fashionable, acceptable, and ultimately coveted.

And all of this is reflected in an urban sensibility that has been woven so prevalently into our society today: In life, and music, and fashion…on the streets of New York and Paris and Milan.

What you find in the streets is not rhetoric…it’s life.

Haus Alkire jacket and skirt, Proenza Schouler top, Balenciaga sneaker

Haus Alkire jacket and skirt, Proenza Schouler top, Balenciaga sneaker

Haider Ackermann jacket, Proenza Schouler pant, Robert Clergerie shoe

Haider Ackermann jacket, Proenza Schouler pant, Robert Clergerie shoe

Bogden top, Long Journey pant, Roland Mouret shoe

Bogden top, Long Journey pant, Roland Mouret shoe

Piece d'Anarchive shorts and sweater, Balenciaga sneakers

Piece d’Anarchive shorts and sweater, Balenciaga sneakers

 

 

 

Suits by the Numbers

My most favorite number that I use to shock people about the men’s apparel business is this: 50% of the menswear business is done by Walmart…that’s in $”s. The menswear business is a $55 billion dollar business and Walmart’s men’s business is $27 billion. I promise you if one bore into that number you would find that about 65% of the shoppers of menswear at Walmart are women…maybe more. I know the dollars largely come from purchases of socks, underwear, jeans and t-shirts….but that’s what most men are wearing. As I state this to whomever I’m talking to (male) they usually act surprise and then look down at what they are wearing and say “yeah that makes sense”. They are so oblivious to what they are wearing that they don’t even know what they have on!

So Men’s Retail Magazine just came out with some numbers about suits that I find so interesting. The numbers are from a nationwide survey of 500 U.S. males ages 18 to 35 conducted in July. 67% of the responders ages 18 to 22 said they have bought a suit…that’s promising…73% ages 22 to 33 said they have bought a suit….again looking good. 63% of the responders ages 31 to 35 said they have bought a suit and even more troubling 55% of the responders 35 years old  have bought a suit (I think recently). REALLY so the interpretation is you buy one suit in your twenties and you use it until you absolutely positively have to buy another one. Wait the numbers get better.

42% of the responders shop at Men’s Wearhouse, 15% at Macy’s, 9% at JCPenny’s, 8%Kohl’s and 7% at Jos A. Bank (which was really surprising considering how many suits the say they give away FREE). The last 19% shop at Walmart, Burlington Coat factory, Dillard’s, H&M, Sears, Express, J Crew, Target and TJ Maxx. I guess the line “we guarantee you are going to like the way you look” works. But here’s the kicker of the 42% who shop at Men’s Wearhouse  69% buy on line….really without even trying it on??? Do they even know how a suit is supposed to fit? The real question is do they care? Why not? Why don’t men care?….oh how I wish they would, again.

I do have some experience in this matter. I know how many different areas on a man’s body that a suit needs to fit right so that it will lay properly and not look ….well….wrong. How about the fabric. When you buy a suit on line you can’t feel the fabric. Does it feel like sandpaper? Would you pay more for the suit if you knew it felt better? Would you buy a more interesting fabric if you could look at the detail of the fabric more closely?  Would you care more if you got involved in the process instead of running away from it?

It’s not like the fashion has moved on and the suit has been replaced by….let’s say… a spacesuit? The last portion of the survey really gives away the ambivalence towards the suit. 44% responders say they bought the suit for “special occasions” as opposed to 28% say they buy suits for work. 15% say they buy suit to look good (there’s a ray of hope), 7% to look professional (as opposed to work?) 5% for church and 3% for funerals (lovely thought). Since the mid 90’s suits have not been required at work, forced by a new generation that didn’t want to be like their fathers, and that generation thought they were ushering a new looser revolution in the work place. But they never figured out the new uniform….their leaders were Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (both not well known for their attire). The new uniform ends up being mundane and nondescript with features like “no iron and stain-resistant”

There is a small underground movement of young men discovering the suit. They come into our store asking lots of questions. For me it’s a beautiful thing to watch. The suit has progressed so much in the the last 20 years and no one ever talks about the advancements. The industry did answer the problem of the suit being too uncomfortable by developing light, soft fabrics; and the tailoring has come so far to make the suit fit close to the body but allow the user to move freely. Of course I am talking about suits that DON’T have stain resistant and no iron fabrics (which are made up of mostly petroleum …who wants to wear THAT next to their body?)

So with these numbers there is nowhere to go but up. Perhaps with this next generation of employees, employers will demand a more professional workplace. After all “dress down friday” was started  to capture generation X workers when unemployment was at an all time low. Now we are at the opposite end of the spectrum, unemployment is at an all time high. Being competitive is a necessity and looking the part should be one as well.