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Heading Toward a Menswear Life Crisis


Lately there’s been a lot of scholarly debate over the current state of menswear on the Internet.

First The New York Times proclaimed the return of “dad jeans” and then The Wall Street Journal penned a holier-than-thou backlash to the so-called #menswear movement.

At this point we’ve already entered the backlash to the backlash stage of things, and it had us wondering how we all got here. In fact, it seems the answer is simpler than you’d expect. And it has a lot to do with timing, the unique advantages of the Internet age and the not-so-unique evolution of personal style.

Now let’s go back and try to understand how we got here.

It’s no coincidence that all of a sudden we’re talking about dad jeans, and the vast majority (if not entirety) of editors/bloggers of every major menswear website are somewhere in their late 20s or early 30s.* (Full disclosure: your humble blogger is barreling toward 30 at a rate he’d rather not think about.)

If you look at the trajectory of menswear on the Internet (now #menswear) over the past decade, it looks a lot like the natural progression of any young twentysomething growing into a thirtysomething while finding his personal style.

Think about it. A quick look back at the timeline of bloggerly menswear goes something like this:

• First it’s a pair of cool sneakers. • Then it’s time to upgrade the daily wardrobe with a nice pair of jeans. • The selvage denim obsession begat the Americana craze. • Which informs the Preppy, Take Ivy Trad revolution. • By then it feels like it’s about time for your first “real suit.” Enter Italian suit-making. (The groundwork for examining sartorial minutiae was laid in the sneaker, jean and heritage days, so getting into surgeon’s cuffs and spalla camicia felt as natural as those jacket shoulders did.) • Now everyone’s pushing 30 and realizing they’re at about the same age as their old man was in those cool pictures from the late ’70s/’80s, beer can in hand, cozy jeans, polo shirt, baseball cap. (Time to grow up and stop fussing over every little detail.) • Violà. 2013. Here we are.

What we’re getting at here is: everyone on the Internet isn’t dressing alike because we’re drones blindly following Internet mandates. (Perhaps there is some lemming-ing happening with the younger gents just discovering #menswear.) Even without the Internet, this would all still be happening, it just wouldn’t be as obvious or easy to nitpick.

Naturally, that leaves us to ponder what the next decade entails as we head into the prototypical midlife crisis age. What is the menswear equivalent of a Porsche?


*A good signifier of the timing and age group we’re talking about here might be this: all of these guys can probably remember their earliest experiences with the Internet involving a compact disc they received in the mail. We’d also put good money on the wager that they’ve all had (or still have) a Blogspot account.

  • Najib Benouar