Spring Wish List (And a brief history of my style evolution)

I’m not ashamed to say my style has evolved quite a bit over the years, and not always for the better. More often than not, the way I dress has been dictated by my place of employment. Upon graduating from high school, the bulk of my wardrobe consisted of Kenneth Cole shirts and pants I snatched up at the local TJ Maxx. When I moved to Chicago and got hired as a merchandising specialist for Polo Ralph Lauren at Marshall Fields on State Street, I thought it appropriate to deck myself out in kelly green cable knit sweaters, white cargo pants, and rope bracelets. Yeah, it wasn’t pretty. A move to men’s premium denim brought with it Paper Denim & Cloth jeans, James Perse T-shirts and lots, lots of Juicy Couture. I had a nylon green bomber jacket with a fake fur hood and everything. Not attractive. Since my department was adjacent to Men’s Designer, I also thought is appropriate to purchase vast amounts of DSquared2 (this was the early 2000s, when DSquared2 was still cool) and Dolce & Gabbana. To tell the difference between me and a cast member of the Jersey Shore would have been a challenge. When I left Fields for Barney’s, everything changed. Juicy and DSquared2 went to the consignment store as I stocked up on Balenciaga, Dior Homme, and so much Margiela. That’s right. I was a rich existential fashion bitch and I was proud of it. I’d go to lunch at Einsteins wearing my severe black Dior military shirt and skintight Balenciaga jeans. Suffice to say, I don’t think people were very comfortable around me. No sooner had I purchased my sleeveless nylon Jil Sander button-down, I moved to Burberry to handle the men’s Prorsum runway collection, which to this day remains one of my favorite brands. My Balenciaga goatskin bags and Raf Simons bondage shirts were shoved in the back of my closet to make room for wool military jackets, impeccably cut white shirts and perfectly tailored silk suits. I was very happy for a little over a year, and then a variety of circumstances compelled me to tenure my resignation.

Thank God I kept most of the loot from Barney’s. Unfortunately, for the most part I no longer have the income nor the employee discount to buy anything I want, although I do splurge occasionally. So right now my style is defined by the oldies but goodies that still reside in my closet and the unique and expensive-looking things I buy through ASOS and J Crew (I promise you, it can be done). But in a perfect world, here is a short list of what I would be buying this spring, courtesy of Mr. Porter, Oak and Oki-Ni.

Sometimes I shudder then I think of the amount of clothing I’ve already gone through in my lifetime.

Burberry Prorsum cashmere sweater with wood detailing (All of the links will take you to the store page)

Lanvin Cotton Twill Military Jacket

Lanvin Cotton Cardigan

Lanvin Twill Shorts

Balenciaga Reversible Leather and Cotton Bomber

Bottega Veneta Intrecciato Leather Tote

Martin Margiela Washed Cotton Shirt

Martin Margiela Suede Sneakers

Jil Sander V-Neck Tee

Acne Jones Jean

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The Cheeky Bastard Emphatically Endorses…

…the most beautiful man in the world, Mathias Lauridsen—Danish model, former face of Gucci, catwalk regular and all-around wonderful person (so I’m guessing).

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But of course, as with so many pretty things, some of magic is lost when they actually speak. But just a little.

 

Top 10 fashion films

So, The Business of Fashion recently listed their favorite fashion clips for the S/S12 season. While I’m not sure exactly what purpose they serve, they are amusing.

 

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But how can any of these compare to the god-awful lip synching of beautiful creatures?

It’s finals week. I’m tired and lazy.

The Cheeky Bastard Emphatically Endorses…

The Midwestyle

This very well-designed blog from three Midwestern boys often makes me want to chuck all of my overpriced designer nonsense in lieu of a vintage oxford button-down, flannel tie and a pair of fine wale corduroys. Almost.
Their raison d’être looking good on the cheap, and I have to say they and their snappy friends are doing a fine job. I enjoy that they aren’t all up in the pretentious heritage brand thing, but rather develop a unique, personal style that combines both vintage and modernity.
I don’t like blogs, but I like this one.

 

Versace makes money?

Well, we can finally get some sleep: Versace as posted a profit for the first time in years.

Once a fashion powerhouse in the 1980s and early 1990s, the label has been operating in the red for quite some time. Industry experts are crediting the turnaround to a number of factors, including the revitalization of the lower-priced Versus collection (thanks to Christopher Kane), the relaunch of Atelier Versace, the couture collection, and, of course, the H&M collaboration.

The label came to embody the “more is more” philosophy of the ’80s, turning Gianni into a multimillionaire and a celebrity in his own right. After his death, Donatella, a.k.a. “The Walking Slim Jim,” has carried on his legacy with varying success. In recent years she has pushed the menswear collections forward, embracing a skinny pseudo-rocker aesthetic, a la Frida Giannini at Gucci. Little by little, classic Versace prints are starting to work their way back into the collections, much to the delight of critics and editors.

Like Calvin Klein, this label confuses me. Who—in regards to menswear—is wearing it? I’m not criticizing the collections. In fact, I’m actually growing more and more fond of them. But who is buying it? Sure, you can purchase Versace suits and basic sportswear at some department stores and the small handful of freestanding boutiques in the States and Europe, but what about the runway collection? Is this just another case of brilliant, beautiful clothes being laboriously designed and created to sell sunglasses and bottles of fragrance?

Consider, won’t you, some stellar—and sometimes amusing—looks from the previous five seasons.

A Japanese spin on American classics

I recently came across this brilliant article in The Independent on the level of craft Japanese streetwear brands are employing in the creation of their clothing. When I think of Japanese fashion, I automatically conjure up images of the cerebral designs of Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake. (And insanely dressed Harajuku girls.) But a new crop of Japanese designers have a deep-rooted appreciation and love for classic American menswear—think 1950’s barracuda and letterman’s jackets, gingham shirting and denim—and often reinterpret these pieces with a distinctive Eastern twist. What I feel makes this trend particularly interesting is that American shops and customers are lapping up this often underground brands, buying back our reworked homegrown styles.

Here is an assortment from each of the brands mentioned in Adam Welch’s piece.

(Yes, I recognize that several of these pieces don’t exactly embody Americana, but they’re still pretty amazing.)

Beams Plus (courtesy of Mr. Porter)

 

White Mountaineering (courtesy of Oki-Ni)

Sasquatchfabrix (courtesy of LN-CC)

 

Uniform Experiment (courtesy of End Clothing)

Kolor (courtesy of Mr. Porter)


The sad state of men’s retail in Chicago

GQ recently came out with their list of the top 25 men’s stores in America. Care to guess how many Chicago stores made the list? Zero. Am I surprised? Absolutely not. For all the hyperbole of Chicago being a world-class city and some sort of fashion capital, the city comes up woefully short in regards to menswear. Yes, we have Barneys, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and a Saks Fifth Avenue Men’s Store. Yes, we have a freestanding Prada, Hermes, Burberry, Zegna, Ferragamo, Marc Jacobs and the only Jil Sander outside New York. This is all great. But in the grand scheme of things, the range of menswear in Chicago is incredibly limited.

Neiman Marcus and Saks are stocked with narcolepsy-inducing assortments. Dolce & Gabbana suits, John Varvatos sweaters and Ferragamo shoes are lovely, but they don’t exactly get my blood pumping. Our local Nordstrom and Barneys are bold enough to carry a rack or two of Marni, Balenciaga and Givenchy, but in very limited quantities and usually the safest styles imaginable. Peruse what’s available and you’re likely to find a surplus of black pants, white button-downs, and crew neck sweaters. Best of luck finding anything remotely interesting.

Chicago women are lucky enough to have independent retailers like Ikram, Blake (which curiously doesn’t have a website), Robin Richman, Perchance, Helen Yi and Sarca. What do we men have? George Green (for a smattering of Yohji), Apartment Number 9 (which used to be a wonderful resource for Dries, Margiela and Band of Outsiders), Shrine Haberdashers (not my personal style, but I very much appreciate what they’re doing) and Haberdash (definitely among the best). Trust me, I’m very grateful these stores are here, but the majority are catering to the “nouveau dandy” trend, i.e. men gobbling up heritage brands (Woolrich, Filson, et al) and those inspired by them (Burkman Bros, Billy Reid). Where is the local equivalent of Colette, Dover Street Market or Opening Ceremony? Why can’t I buy Comme des Garçons, Wooyoungmi, Kenzo, Duckie Brown or bloody Calvin Klein Collection, for that matter?

I sincerely hope I’m not alone in this. Yes, Chicagoans—and Chicago men, in particular—tend to skew toward the conservative side. But surely there are enough people of a similar mind here to support such a store.

Or maybe I should just go back to London…

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