2010 was an exciting year in men’s style: the Florence, Alabama based designer Billy Reid won the CDFA/GQ best menswear designer in America award, Frank Muytjens’ new collections for J. Crew were received to critical acclaim and the blog Fuck Yeah Menswear successfully blended style critique with humorous rap lyrics.
Of course, many other significant things happened, but here are the big ones that you need to be aware of:
Every guy can be stylish.
For me, this is perhaps the most significant thing about the year 2010 as it applies to men’s style. Women have always had a myriad of fashion magazines to look to, but men have had little more than GQ and Esquire.
But as the Internet continues to grow, the resources available for men’s style do too. In 2010, blogs like A Continuous Lean, Street Etiquette, and You Have Broken The Internet really took off — and taught real guys how to dress well. While dressing well was once reserved for guys who had a lot of disposable income, in 2010, brands like J. Crew, Life After Denim, H&M, and Uniqlo made fashion affordable for the average guy.
And websites like The Sartorialist and Backyard Bill arose to document this influence. Guys have stopped looking to the runways for fashion ideas: We want to see real people who have real budgets wearing real clothes.
Homeless is in, metro is out.
Mani-pedis for men are so 2009. 2010 was the year of long hair, scruff, and hairy ankles. That’s right, I said ankles.
In the summer, designers like Thom Browne and Frank Muytjens copied one from the Italian playbook and decided that guys should start rolling their pants up and showing some ankle. But, of course, these ankles couldn’t be shaved. Leg hair was mandatory for a rugged, masculine look. This continued through the Fall and Winter collections, when models started revealing colorful socks instead of bare ankles.
I, for one, am thankful for this Italian influence on American design: It’s about time American men started buying pants with the correct inseam.
In August, J. Crew took the fashion world by storm when they featured a man who looked just as likely to play Jesus in a Hollywood film as model in their September catalog. Slate referred to him as “the bearded hippie.” His real name is Will Lewis, and he appeared in a runway campaign for French designer John Paul Gaultier as well as ads for the Italian house Diesel.
Obviously, his shoulder-length hair and Iron & Wine-esque beard were not the norm in men’s style this year. However, what a friend of mine calls the “ruggedly handsome” look was. Across the board, models for brands small and large were featured with disheveled hair and scruffy faces.
This represented a drastic turn from 2009, the year of the metrosexual. Guys and girls alike used to admire Ryan Seacrest’s perfectly flat-ironed hair, whitened teeth and professionally groomed fingernails. But 2010 was the year of masculinity and imperfection. Naturally, some in the fashion industry resisted this movement; saying that many of the new models who graced the inside of GQ looked like they were homeless.
But I for one am thankful that it’s cool to not care anymore: I don’t want to have to shave my legs to be stylish.
This trend of dishevelment applied to the clothes in 2010 as well as the models: rugged boots, plaid shirts, and vintage pieces took off. Dry-cleaning your shirts? Please. Throw them in the washer for a cool rumpled look.
2010 was the year of collaborations. Across the country, emerging designers teamed up with classic heritage brands to create new, unique styles. Here are a few of my favorites:
Billy Reid x Levi’s: As part of winning the CDFA/GQ best new menswear designer award, Billy Reid got to design a collection with a little San Francisco denim company called Levi’s. The collection featured a beautiful pair of distressed 505 jeans, a twill hunting coat that I am still lusting over, a bag inspired by an vintage Levi’s blacksmith Apron and faded T-shirts and sweatshirts that bore a “Calabama” graphic (Levi’s = San Francisco, California; Billy Reid = Florence, Alabama; California + Alabama = Calabama).
Apolis x Filson: Most American men are familiar with the outdoor clothing brand Filson. They have been producing a fantastic collection of luggage for years, including their original briefcase.
The folks at L.A.-based Apolis Activism, a brand that focus on stimulating third world economies through manufacturing and supply chain management, decided that they wanted to put a modern spin on Filson’s original briefcase. So, they released the Filson + Apolis Philanthropist Briefcase. It’s just like the original, but is black and features Apolis’ signature red stitching.
A.P.C. x Carhartt: The French design house Atelier de Production et de Création teamed up with the classic American brand Carhartt to create a one-of-a-kind collection. Jean Toitou, the head designer for A.P.C., brought his minimalistic approach to classic American workwear, and the results were stunning. The collection included jeans along with workwear shirts and jackets. The coolest part? It was sold at high-end A.P.C. boutiques and blue-collar Carhartt stores alike.
J. Crew x Everybody: J. Crew wholeheartedly embraced the collaboration trend in 2010, carrying products by Barbour, Belstaff, Filson, Jack Purcell, Quoddy, Fjallraven, and Alden — just to name a few. In fact, the brand opened three men’s only boutiques in New York City, and one in Boston, that are dedicated to carrying J. Crew merchandise alongside classic heritage brands.
As a result of this decision to focus on bringing in third-party merchandise, J. Crew was met with vehement opposition by some in the fashion community (just do a quick search on Styleforum). Loyal fans of these classic brands feared that J. Crew collaborations would adversely affect product quality and exclusivity. But I think it’s pretty cool that I can walk into a store in New York, or jump online, and buy a J. Crew shirt for $79 and a pair of Alden wingtips for $465.
It’s just another example of making men’s fashion and style accessible.
Buying American is almost as good as buying Japanese.
American guys are no longer looking to Europe for fashion inspiration: we’re looking at our past. Authentic Americana styling took off in 2010, and heritage brands like Orvis, Filson, L.L. Bean and Levi’s enjoyed newfound popularity. New brands like Rag & Bone and Taylor Supply emerged with collections focused on classic Americana styling with a modern twist.
Classic American brands reinvented themselves with new collections: Brooks Brothers brought in Thom Browne to design the Black Fleece collection and Ralph Lauren revamped his RRL line with high-quality flannel shirts and premium, made in America denim.
However, Japan became another go-to destination for American fashion. The Japanese born designer Daiki Suzuki designed collections for Woolrich Woolen Mills, reinvented by the Italian brand WP Lavori, as well as the American label Engineered Garments. American designers like J. Crew’s Frank Muytjens have become obsessed with Japanese culture, and cite it is a significant influence in their menswear collections.
Guys across the U.S. have relentlessly pursued Japanese labels like Sunny Sports and Triple Works. American brands like Ralph Lauren’s Rugby and Levi’s Vintage Clothing have opened flagship boutiques in Tokyo.
This symbiotic relationship between America and Japan has been beneficial to the men’s fashion scenes in both countries, and I can’t wait to see how this continues to play out in 2011. The common thread is that American guys are now interested in buying high-quality products.
For men, the early 2000’s were all about pointy-toed shoes, flashy denim, and graphic shirts by Robert Graham and Ed Hardy. But in recent years, and most notably in 2010, guys in America have started to return to their roots. Whether you are in Montrose in Houston, Greenwich Village in New York, or the Aoyama district in Tokyo, you are bound to find scruffy, disheveled guys that look like they belong in a blue-collar neighborhood in Idaho, even though they have Ivy-league educations and work in creative professions.
Blogs like Stuff White People Like have emerged in an effort to poke fun at this movement, but I think it’s here to stay. Even if the Americana thing blows over, I'm keeping my RRL jeans, Red Wing Boots and Billy Reid shirts. Who's with me?
Editor's note: This is the 21st in a series of articles CultureMap will be running this transition week (the end of '10 and the beginning of '11) on The Year in Culture. The stories in this series will focus on a key point or two, something that struck our reporting team about the year rather than rote Top 10 lists or bests of.
Other The Year In Culture stories: