world of men's style / fashion / grooming

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The Cult of Style

Some brands are more mystifying than others...

Justin Bridges has been pondering the meaning of Supreme all week, on the heels of a profile of the cult brand in this month’s GQ. He covers a lot of ground, but it boils down to a simple question, one that’s struck nearly everyone at some point: what makes a man camp out for a pair of cargo pants?

Naturally, we’ve got a few ideas.

Our thoughts on Supreme, cult brands and the brotherhood of men’s style»

Brioni Goes International


There’s been a lot of insidery talk about Brioni getting bought up, but it’s not quite as complex as all the finance-speak suggests.

They’re moving up to the big leagues. And depending on how you feel about regional Italian style, it might not be a good thing.

The bid is coming from the French conglomerate PPR, for over 300 million Euro. It’s the same firm that took control of Gucci in 2004, which should give you a pretty good idea of where Brioni’s headed. They’ve always been one of the Italy’s tonier brands, but if this goes through you can expect a full-scale relaunch of the brand. When they emerge, they’ll be less Italian and more international, like Prada, Louis Vuitton or, well, Gucci.

If you still want your suit to feel like it was made 100 miles from Naples, it might not be cause for celebration. But they’ve already got a head start on the rakish globe-trotter look.

In the Mansion


As you may have heard, Ralph Lauren overhauled their New York store in the Rhinelander Mansion, and the result is a pretty spectacular new men’s only shop. The new version sprawls out over four stories and 20,000 square feet—an easy contender for the largest single-brand men’s clothing store in the world, and the perfect capstone for a $4 billion behemoth of branding.

There are already plenty of gushing tours through the place (hey, here’s a good one), but what struck us passing through is exactly how many nooks and crannies there are in the RL empire and how much space it takes to do justice to them all. There are tons of collaboration mixed in contextually, stuff like glass skulls, motorcycles and vintage dumbbells—all genuinely for sale. Even if you don’t buy them, they say a lot about what Ralph is, and the different personas of Black Label, Purple Label, RRL, RLX and Polo. It’s a smart move, and it makes the space feel more like a museum than a mansion. “Store” is a distant third.

Eastern Promises


Not all German cars are created equal.

To anyone weathering the sea change after the wall fell, the Trabant was the brightest symbol of clunky East German industrialism. It boasted a ridiculously complex refueling process, a ten year waitlist, and a two-stroke engine that did 0-60 in a blistering 21 seconds. In short, quite possibly the worst car ever made. So naturally it’s due for a revival.

The new Trabbi, currently hunting for investors, swaps out the moped engine for a gas-free electric motor that should give the notoriously smoky vehicle a fresh green face, but the basic question remains: Why not give it a new name? The Trabbi's boxy silhouette’s as reviled as it is beloved, so it might have been worth just starting from scratch. Unless the GDR’s coming back into style…

Adriana Lima has No Idea What Her Feet Look Like


Walk Hard: Thank heaven for lingerie shows. [WBE]

Fighting Words: A branding guru takes on the fashion industry. Clearly, he’s never met Tom Ford. [PSFK]

It Was Worth a Shot: What if Google implanted an elaborate code into their site and nobody noticed or cared? [The Google Blog]

Name That Model: Identify a call sheet of models and win a classic of 19th Century literature. No, we’re not kidding. [Fashion Copious]

The Wide World of Branding


The style highlight of the U.S. Open so far looks to be a remarkably simple item: Roger Federer’s brand new branded ballcap. All the proceeds go straight to charity—hopefully Roger can squeak by with one fewer house—but the logo definitely makes it as much Lakers as Livestrong.

It’s an interesting development—and certainly a profitable one, judging by the number of caps we’ve seen in the stands so far—and we’re guessing this is only the beginning. It may not be quite as graceful as the Air Jordan, but it should serve about the same purpose now that Federer’s positioning himself as the best-branded athlete of his generation. Next time he wants to endorse a line of watches, it may be as simple as tossing a logo on it. And if you wonder how big the logo’s getting, look a little closer: Nike’s already getting second billing.

In Print


One of the more interesting booths at (capsule) had surprisingly little to do with clothing. Shockingly enough, this one has to do with newsprint.

The booth in question belonged to Staple, a clothing line and design firm that’s best known as the owner of the Lower East Side boutique Reed Space. But this month they’re branching out even farther, with a quarterly called Reed Pages. It’s all interviews and editorial spreads so far, but the highlight might be in their innovative approach to advertising. Called “sponsorship,” each ad consists of the brand’s logo printed an inch high in the middle of a huge blank page. It’s branding at its purest: no models, no pictures and no elegantly worded slogans.

Think Big


If this polo shirt looks familiar, it should. You’ve probably seen the American Apparel version on at least a dozen skinny hipsters by now…you just haven’t seen it in this size.

Don't look for it in stores, though. This one comes from Colossal Clothing, a new brand that deals in American Apparel styles and fabrics recut for less emaciated frames. Every tron jacket and henley is still made in Dov’s own factories, but the cuts are brand new and the shape is unlike anything you'll see on a billboard.

The story behind Colossal Clothing»

All the Real Dolls


In the post-Hirst era, an artist’s only as good as his brand. And a brand’s only as good as its mascot…

Apparently Takashi Murakami decided to give a little fuel to those Walt Disney comparisons, releasing three 20 second mini-spots for a fictional tv show starring one of his creations.

This time, it’s Inochi, a grotesquely misshapen schoolboy who seems to be going through a sexual awakening. The spots are familiar to anyone who saw his Brooklyn Museum exhibition, but this time around, it seems like he has a decent shot at the mainstream. Aren’t we supposed to be in a television renaissance?

We have to think there’s a basic cable channel out there that would be willing to bankroll this. The publicity alone would be priceless. Is TV Land doing anything these days?

See the video»

The Emperor’s New Logo


Branding can be a shifty enterprise. It deals in abstracts, and it can take decades to unravel whether something was a brilliant idea or just a brilliant pitch—and for the most part, no one can tell the difference.

All of which goes a long way towards explaining someone like Peter Arnell.

He’s been behind some of the more iconic images in recent memory—DKNY’s Houston St mural, ConEdison’s redesigned trucks, and the curvy new Pepsi logo—along with some of the biggest tantrums in the business, but after a disastrous Tropicana redesign, the sharks are circling. And suddenly, people are using the word “huckster” an awful lot…

We examine Mr. Arnell indepth»

Get a Room


Branding firms are still figuring out how to make a web video people will actually want to see, but the formula isn’t so complicated. Just find something worth watching and figure out some way to fit your product in—preferably something other than an opening title card.

Ito Partners gets it right with this series of Vimeo spots for Morgans Hotel Group. Ito lined up a series of relatively unknown acts to play sets in Morgans Hotel rooms, giving viewers an impromptu concert and a look at the soothing surroundings at the same time. And, in case you were wondering, the acoustics at the Royalton are surprisingly good.

See the New York video»

Kids on Holiday


For some reason, A.P.C. seems to be on vacation.

Their latest summer collection is practically a handbook for the young and tweedy Ibiza crowd. It’s quite a thing to nail down a particular age and moment—Ralph Lauren started out in much the same way—but it’s interesting that this is where the francophone label has found themselves.

The fall lines always seemed more reserved than their stateside counterparts. These were clothes for schoolkids, but mostly the ones in the library, which makes this beachbound hedonistic turn more than a little surprising.

Then again, that’s what summer vacation is for.

See the rest of the line»

Accessory After the Fact


For a heritage brand, Dunhill’s been a little shaky lately.

Take, for instance, their latest lighter design. It’s modeled after the lighter Elvis used in the 50s, and not a bad specimen as Elvis-related trinkets go. With a history going all the way back to the 1890s, Dunhill’s well-equipped to take on this particular historical reissue, but the whole enterprise seems unhealthy somehow.

It’s not Elvis himself—although taking on his legacy is a hefty task—but the overwhelming sense that they’ve somehow gotten into the souvenir business…

Perhaps we should elaborate»

Repping PG


It’s been brought to our attention that Esquire’s best dressed man, Kenyatte Nelson, is in fact a brand manager for Proctor & Gamble, rather than a lowly PR rep.

We’ve got a few brand managers here at Kempt, so we’ve got no snarky quips in their direction, but if Nelson’s really holding the keys to the kingdom…can he do something about the logo?

Maybe something a little less freemason-y?