Ralph Endelson reviews a unique Global Guide to Independent Men’s Fashion
Article by Sam Clark
In an industry peppered with divisions and subcultures, the branch known simply as ‘Menswear’ is growing in stature and confidence. In this sharp new book Steve Vogel, Nicholas Schonberger and Calum Gordon introduce us to everyone and everything we need to know about Contemporary Menswear. They share their expert knowledge and insight of this important and growing fraction of the clothing industry which is as much about a lifestyle choice and a philosophy for using local materials, blending traditional handcrafting techniques with cutting edge technologies and combining natural materials with modern fabrics as it is about the clothes themselves.
Menswear, as a recognized genre, first started to emerge around 2007. Compiling his first book on Menswear’s brash sibling, Street Wear, Steven Vogel noticed a subtile shift was happening. Slowly emerging from the bold, cocksure styles of street wear was a much more cultured and mature look. One that is more considered in its make up. Perhaps the ‘hoodie generation’ were growing up to have a more sophisticated and discerning view of the world, and so was their wardrobe.
As Vogel writes, a vast majority of contemporary menswear is inspired by Americana, which the giants, Ralph Lauren, are masters of. There are also workwear influences from the likes of Red Wing and these, intern, are reinterpreted by brands such as Levi’s Vintage.
Messrs Vogel, Schonberger and Gordon have consciously omitted these well-known brands to save space and fill their valuable pages with over 50 of the most creative and influential independent brands. They cross the globe to bring us the Japanese obsession with detail, Scandinavian cool, Italian heritage and British tradition. There are relatively young brands like Canadian, Muttonhead and selvedge denim mavericks, Naked & Famous, who set out to make great jeans, but occasionally get side tracked with eccentric indulgences that glow in the dark or can scratch-and-sniff.
Some surprisingly old names and brands also inhabit this contemporary style. Few brands can compete with shoemakers, Grenson, who, founded in 1866, stand as one of the great grandfathers of the industry. Originally named William Green & Son, they still continue to use the time tested Goodyear technique to produce shoes of exceptional quality in their classic English aesthetic. Nigel Cabourn, a legend in vintage styling, started designing in the early 1970’s, producing clothing and selling it through local shops in Newcastle. Over four decades later he’s creativity is still as strong and his clothes are sort after all over the world.
This book is packed with carefully selected, wardrobe-filling images in a design as meticulously constructed and detailed as the garments themselves. A must read for anyone with an interest in fashion and the culture that shapes it.
Contemporary Menswear by Steve Vogel, Nicholas Schonberger and Calum Gordon is published by Thames & Hudson on October 20