Saturday, November 3, 2012

What Is Our Ivy?

Milieu.  Zeitgeist.  Why do the words for this concept--the way things are right now, in a sort of cultural sense--all come from other languages?

Watched a little video from A Suitable Wardrobe about a display at the FIT Museum in NYC on Ivy style.  It's hard to say how widespread such trends were without consulting the clothing-aware who lived it.  We are all living the right now.  What is the current Ivy?  What do the stylemakers do?

In high menswear, the sort of thing that businesspeople wear, the zeitgeist is less about a certain look than about material and, more importantly, tailoring.*  These trends reflect movement away from manufactured look and toward artisans, whether they be custom bootmakers or the Korean grandmother at my dry cleaners.  It's almost a move toward relationships. Mass-produced clothing is, after all, a relatively new phenomenon. 

In low menswear, what you might call streetwear, there is no unanimity.  Among style bloggers, the current obsession is heritage brands, especially Made in America-type brands.  There are some unusual results: witness the artisanal axe.    But this trend does not propagate through 95% of the population of male-presenting people.  Raw denim does not intrigue the vast majority.  As far back as I can remember, at least, comfort has been the watchword for weekendwear.  I suspect that it has been this way ever since clothing self-democratized and largely lost its function as a connoter of social status.

* To the extent that we have a "look" among suits, it would be narrower lapels and higher button stance, but these are slight variations on a very old framework.

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