Menswear

I’m not sure when the Christmas jumper first became a “thing”. Once upon a time it seemed only to be a feature of films, worn by Hollywood stars such as Macaulay Culkin in John Hughes’ Home Alone as he merrily detonated Christmas baubles to deter intruders, or corpulent John Candy-types as they made their flatulent passage across the US. In Britain, they appeared as significant extras in class-based seasonal tragicomedies starring Julie Walters or Jim Broadbent, where they were accessorised with glinting Santa earrings and coronary heart failure.

How much time do you spend thinking about what to wear each morning? It’s a question that has taken on new significance in the past couple of weeks: especially for the menfolk.

 

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Louis Vuitton is unveiling a new group of celebrity “ambassadors’ today via their web site, and it’s not who you might expect: instead of actress Michelle Williams, who currently fronts their women’s bag campaign, or Angelina Jolie, who has plugged the heritage line, we have a star-studded line-up of… Atiq Rahimi, a French-Afghan author and movie director whose book, “the Patience Stone” won the Prix Goncourt; Tom Reiss, whose biography, “The Black Count:” about the “real” Count of Monte Cristo just won the Pulitzer; political consultant Felix Marquardt (who has advised the Presidents of Colombia, Georgia and Panama) and Dr. Gino Yu of Hong Kong Polytechnic university and Lourenço Bustani, CEO of Mandalah, who is spearheading the cultural planning of Brazil’s 2016 Olympics — all photographed at the most recent World Economic Forum in Switzerland. So here’s the question: is this a super-clever new way of thinking about marketing, or a velvet rope that will prove too much of a barrier to entry even for the insiders? Read more

The general take this morning seems to be that Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new CEO (left), is not really such a new type after all: an insider, well-liked, who won’t shake things up too much, etc etc. I am sure this is largely true – the politics of the tech world are not my area of expertise. But in one area at least, I think the analysts are wrong: public image. I mean, take a look at the photograph on front pages everywhere (including our own): Mr Nadella, looking relaxed, staring into the distance in a…hoodie. Let me say that again: a hoodie. A hoodie! This signifies, it seems to me, a real generational shift, and an effort for Microsoft to at least appear to be part of the current buzz-worthy conversation. Read more

Conventional wisdom dictates that a spot in the Super Bowl (which is to say, an ad) is a highly desirable thing, given the game is watched by approximately 100 million people, give or take. And all those eyeballs on your product, be it Audi or Chrysler or David Beckham’s H&M undies, is an invaluable communications moment; hence the enormous cost ($4 million for 30 seconds) for a slot. So how much more lucrative would it be, theoretically speaking, to get your product on the halftime star – effectively free promotion (minus the cost of the garment, possibly)? It’s the equivalent of red carpet PLUS Super Bowl. It should be a mind-blowingly GIGANTIC in terms of marketing potential. So you can understand why Hedi Slimane of Saint Laurent created a custom-made outfit – gold leather tux, black trousers – for Bruno Mars’ 12 minute half-time show at last night’s game (above left). What an advertisement! Read more

In Paris for the couture shows, I was tooling around yesterday to some appointments, and stopped by JW Anderson’s showroom to see his pre-fall, pre-Versace (for the latter, if you want to know: Swarovski, skin and very Sunset Boulevard). Anyway, we got to chatting about the change in his life since he signed on as Loewe’s creative director, and LVMH took a minority stake in his eponymous brand, and the YBD (young British designer) reeled off some pretty interesting numbers. Read more

If there is any doubt that menswear is now the Next Big Hope of luxury, let that be put to rest by last night’s Golden Globes. This morning, waking up as one does to the quazillion emails from brands trumpeting their celebrity “gets,” I was struck – as if by a 10-foot-pole – by how bigged up the men were. This can mean but one thing: glossy fashion brands, historically known more for their womenswear than menswear, are putting even more marketing muscle behind growing the male side of the business.  Read more

Forget the uproar around competing menswear shows LC:M, which starts today and ends Wednesday, and Pitti Uomo, which also starts Wednesday and runs until Friday. Seems to me the real distraction from the menswear scene this week is actually taking place in Las Vegas from tomorrow-Friday, and is the Consumer Electronic Show, aka CES. After all, the buzz word of the event this year is “wearables,” and the market for “wearables” is being projected to grow to $19 billion in the next four years. Shouldn’t fashion companies be chasing a share of that there about-to-be-very-large pie, and fashion-watchers paying all sorts of close attention? Read more

Almost a month after the death of Nelson Mandela, every talking head has weighed in with their own memoir or eulogy so what is there to add? Fair question.

Let me simply say that this is a new year’s column – a look forward, not a look back – and it is about a lesson I think worth taking from Mandela and applying in 2014, a lesson not included in the many “Lessons from Mandela” written in recent weeks. Most of these were concerned with choosing reconciliation over revolution, while this is to do with clothes. It may seem like a frivolous topic where someone such as Mandela is concerned, except he clearly took clothes – and their power – seriously, and perhaps we should, too.

It’s all about football for men’s luxury brands. What else to make of the fact that Lanvin just became the first French brand to joined the ranks of Paul Smith (Manchester United), Armani (Chelsea, plus the English national football team, twice), Brooks Brothers (InterMilan), and Dolce & Gabbana (the Italian National team and Lionel Messi, the Argentinian football player they dressed for so long, they made a whole book about him), by becoming the “official tailor” to Arsenal, the UK football club immortalised by Nick Hornby in “Fever Pitch”?  Read more

One of the weirder moments in the already surreal event that was the public confessional/press conference Toronto mayor Rob Ford held yesterday to admit smoking crack cocaine was, it has to be said, his tie. Unlike most such accessories sported during such penitent moments, which tend to dark, drab, night-of-the-soul shades and prints (see pretty much any white collar defendant in court) — or at the very least, a peaceable blue (see pretty much any banker testifying before a government sub-committee) – Mr Ford wore a souvenir number, spotted by brightly coloured logos from NFL teams. It provoked an immediate reaction. And therein lies a lesson. Really. Read more

Not long ago, no matter where you were in the world, there was a particular smell to a Burberry store. An earthy scent tickled the memory, sparking thoughts of loamy ground and windswept moors, warm fireplaces and woolly sweaters.

It was also, as it happened, the smell of the Burberry headquarters, a 150-year-old landmark building with a remodelled interior a stone’s throw from the Houses of Parliament – not to mention an office on the top floor, a broad white expanse of glass belonging to Christopher Bailey, the brand’s chief creative officer.

Yesterday LVMH announced it had signed up YBD JW Anderson to be the new designer of Loewe, and taken a minority stake in his brand. Anyone notice anything funky about this? No? It was expected? Well, kind of. But what shouldn’t have been expected, but seems to be increasingly the case, is that while they hired him to be the creative head of one of their not-quite-there-yet brands, they allowed him to keep his own line. And therein lies a change in strategy. Read more

Ok, I know it’s the womenswear season and all eyes are on hemlines in New York (and soon London), but something is happening in menswear to which no one seems to be paying much attention, but that strikes me as worth a stop and think: various Chinese groups are snapping up classic western tailoring brands like they are M&Ms. And the ownership change is reaching critical mass. Read more

The great and witty Simon Doonan has a new book out next week – “The Asylum”, about the fashion world, natch – and in the process of promoting it has gotten up on the hustings to mount a campaign against writing about politician’s clothes, most recently in an interview with The New Republic. You can read it yourself, but here’s the thing: in taking this stand, Mr Doonan is missing a crucial point. Read more

So after the Louboutin vs YSL tangle over the use of red soles, we have Thomas Pink vs Victoria’s Secret over the use of pink. See, Pink likes to refer to itself as…well, PINK. And VS, since 2001, has had a secondary line aimed at tweens and 20somethings called (under 32 different trademarks, including “Pink Beach,” “Aolha Pink” and “Oh what fun is Pink”) VS Pink. And therein lies the conflict.

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It’s been almost a week but I am still processing the succession of outfits that appeared on the great and good at the recent Sun Valley conference. The annual gathering of media and tech executives offers possibly the most concentrated examples of how moguls dress when they dress down.

You know that saying about “dress for the job you want”? Well, for anyone who wants to look like a power player not just in the office but out of it (or while pretending to be out of it but still thinking about it), Sun Valley provides a primer in what to wear. Which is what? According to Forbes’s style file, “attendees wear luxurious, casual, low-profile attire, but still aim to look stylish”. Serial participant Diane von Furstenberg, who also has a small pop-up shop during the conference, says: “Everyone makes a point of being as humble and as laid-back as possible. We get some T-shirts and sweatshirts and most guests wear them.” Read more

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic were not the only two men working at Wimbledon yesterday; Prime Minister David Cameron (left) and Labour leader Ed Miliban (below) were on the job too. At least they looked as if they were: in dark suits and their respective party-tone ties (light blue and red), they seemed as if they were on their way to Prime Minister’s question time, not the hottest men’s tennis final in years (and I mean “hot” in both senses of the word). What to conclude?  Read more

It’s too bad EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht wasn’t at the couture shows last week. It would have given him lots of ammunition during this week’s EU-US free trade talks (presuming they go ahead) when the question of the French exception culturelle is raised. After all, the fashion industry is not covered – not even the made-to-order highest end of it, as invented and perfected in Paris. What became increasingly clear during the collections is that, other than location, couture no longer seems to have much to do with France.

Part of this is literal: of the big brand names still on the couture schedule, only one, Jean Paul Gaultier, is actually designed by a Frenchman. The rest are created by Belgians (Dior, Martin Margiela Artisanale), Dutch (Viktor & Rolf), German (Chanel), Italians (Versace, Armani, Valli, Valentino), Russians (Ulyana Sergeenko) and Lebanese (Elie Saab). But most of it is aesthetic.