Quality is a word that comes up a lot in discussions about fashion, but what it actually means never really seems to get nailed down.
Reading through various such discussions on various online fashion forums, there are a few ideas that someone otherwise uninformed could pick up.
Firstly, it would seem that quality is something that, at least for plebs like you and I, can be difficult to determine at the point of purchase; an accurate appraisal would seem to require some degree of expertise in the item at hand. But there also seems to be a consensus that quality cannot be ignored in the long run – buying a low-quality item will always bite you in the arse eventually, apparently most often because the item “falls apart” or otherwise fucks itself after relatively little wear. This leads to people fretting over whether an item that, to their mere mortal gaze, seems to be cool, is actually of sufficiently worthy quality, leading them to seek the counsel of the seemingly omniscient internet.
Unless you literally only got into fashion in the past week (or for some reason you’re reading this blog and aren’t interested in fashion), you’ll know Hedi Slimane resigned as the creative director of Saint Laurent last week. His time at the label was indisputably a huge commercial success, but opinions on his creative and artistic merit are far more divided. The “SLP aesthetic” has grown to be massively popular among many fashion enthusiasts, and while his legions of fans will fall over themselves to espouse Hedi’s genius, many others dismiss him completely as a one-trick pony who hasn’t done anything interesting since he left Dior Homme in 2007. I feel like neither of these viewpoints are completely accurate or fair, and I’d like to present something of a middle ground.
The fashion forum I frequent the most is Reddit’s r/malefashionadvice (universally referred to as MFA), which was also my gateway drug into picking up fashion as a hobby. My experience with MFA is farily typical; after joining, I quickly started “investing” in a wardrobe packed with timeless classics: brown boots and dress shoes, raw denim, a Barbour jacket, and so on, until I had a solid basic wardrobe that leaned very heavily #menswear/prep/trad end of the stylistic spectrum. Then I picked up my Common Projects Achilles which introduced me to the magical world of “streetwear” (used in the most generous sense), and almost overnight I completely overhauled my style, and after some continuing development I’ve ended up where I am today.
Now, while I consider the above anecdote to have a happy ending, there were some casualties along the way. Those timeless classics I mentioned? Almost all of them are relegated to the back of my wardrobe, never seeing the light of day. The reason is simply that most of those staple pieces of a “traditional” wardrobe simply do not fit into the styles I’ve found myself in; I have very little use for my light blue OCBD, or my slim-fitting khaki chinos, or my boxy Barbour jacket. Moreover, I don’t believe that my experience is particularly unique; I’ve lost count of the number of similar tales I’ve heard from people who started in the same way.
It’s no secret that designer fashion is expensive. Names like Prada, Burberry, and Saint Laurent are synonymous with luxury and decadence. There has been much debate among fashion enthusiasts over whether it’s it’s worth spending big bucks on designer gear or if doing so is merely paying for the ego boost afforded by the garment’s label. The general consensus among people that aren’t plebs is that it’s okay for other people to spend their own money on whatever they want, since surprisingly enough them doing so doesn’t actually affect the rest of us.
But while there is plenty of discussion on whether or not consumers should pay the high prices on designer clothing, I have seen relatively little on whether the designers themselves should be charging what they are. Hero that I am, I have taken it upon myself to fill this obvious void in the internet’s catalog of pseudointellectual rambles.
Now, viewing designer fashion houses solely as capitalist businesses, the question posed is deeply uninteresting; who really cares whether Versace would make more profit if they reduced their prices a bit? Literally nobody. Except maybe Versace. Instead, I’m considering the impact of designer pricetags on fashion as an art form. (more…)
What is the perfect wardrobe? By nature of the question, the answer will vary drastically between different people. Personally, there are two things that I would require of my ideal wardrobe. The first, and most important, is that I truly love and enjoy every item in it. I don’t want to open my wardrobe and be confronted with a stack of shirts I don’t really like, getting in the way of the three that I actually wear; I don’t want to have that cardigan that I used to love but hardly wear anymore staring at me resentfully every time I open my drawer. Instead, I dream of a curated collection of just those items that truly give me joy to wear.
I think that among those who take an active interest in fashion, we have all at some early point in our development of that interest experienced the phase of being obsessed with investing in versatile basics and staple items; justifying buying more expensive items because they’ll last a lifetime, and they’re classics that’ll never go out of style! Of course, this inevitably leads to everyone curating the same wardrobe of “timeless classics” – a blue OCBD or three, chinos in various earth tones, a pair of raw denim jeans, and of course some versatile white sneakers.
For many, this is enough – they’re dressing better than the general population and can start paying more attention to the more important things in life, like talking to other people and going outside. But for the rest of us, boredom eventually sets in. We might be dressing “well”, but that isn’t enough – we want to express our, er, incredibly unique individual tastes through the way we dress; to develop a more personal style.