fashion, lifestyle, dating and humor for the average guy

Archive for the month “April, 2014”

Fashion Revolution Day

One year ago today the Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed killing 1133 garment workers and injuring 2,500 more.  While this seems far removed from our western fashion pursuits and lives the reality is the overwhelming majority of what we wear is produced in factories just like this.  Factories with questionable safety records, over-worked/underplayed employees and often child labor.

The growth of fast affordable fashion has only increased the demand for low wage, unsafe factories to meet our insatiable appetite for the latest thing at a bargin basement price.  There is nothing wrong with inexpensive clothing.  Personally I’m a big fan and have more than my share.  But inexpensive clothing can still be manufactured in safe, humane conditions.  And the problem is not isolated to lower cost garments.  Plenty of upscale, high-priced fashion is manufactured in the exact same conditions with the same disregard for human labor.

Most of us have closets full of clothes that we never wear.  How often have we given any thought to where the materials for that product come from.  The factory workers that produced the finished product.  Do we need every item that we posses.  Can’t we resist the lure of the latest sale.

This doesn’t mean stop buying new clothes.  The fashion industry employs countless numbers world-wide and they depend on those jobs for survival.  What it does mean is that it is ok to ask where you clothes are made. To choose to support brands that manufacture their products in a humane way.

The following link is an op-ed in today’s Business of Fashion by Tasman Blanchard, the style director of Telegraph Magazine and a board member of Fashion Revolution Day.  Fashion Revolution Day was set up in the memory of those garments workers who were needlessly killed to draw attention to the plight of today’s garment worker. They are encouraging people to wear their shirts inside out today to show off their labels, drawing attention to the question of where and how clothes are made.

Tamsin Blanchard is the style director of the Telegraph Magazine and a board member of Fashion Revolution Day.


Nike FuelBand is on the way out


Wearable technology is one of the biggest trends headed our way.  Before long there will be an onslaught of shirts that can read your heart rate and other vital measures.  This year we are going to see the first of a long list of Apple and Android watches.  One of the most surprising pieces of recent news is the demise of the Nike FuelBand.

Fitness trackers like the Fitbit, Jawbone and FuelBand were the early and leading contenders in the world of wearable technology designed to make us healthier and fitter.  The rumored end of the Nike FuelBand shouldn’t be a big surprise.  Nike doesn’t want to go to battle with Google and Apple and conveniently, Apple CEO Tim Cook, a former FuelBand wearer has been on the Nike Board of Directors for nine years.  Apparently Nike is going to focus on creating software that will work with other manufacturers hardware.  Not only does this take away the challenge of competing in the hardware space off of Nike’s plate, it allows them to reach a much broader customer base in more effective ways to extend their brand.

To learn more about Nike’s change in strategy read the latest from CNET:

Bad Fashion: Santa Cruz

santa cruz bad fashion 1 croped

Following the rules of fashion is a tricky thing.  Sometimes they need to be observed.  Sometimes they should be broken.  The trick and art is knowing when to break them.  In this case today’s fashion victim broke one of the most sacred rules that rarely if ever should be broken.  Mixing strong patterns is a dangerous game and not one to be fooled with by amateurs.  This young man is forgiven because no one has ever taught him that green horizontal stripes and plaid shorts are a combination that no one should ever attempt.

santa cruz bad fashion 2 croped


Now as for the taller gentleman, he doesn’t get a pass for those cuffed jeans shorts.  I hadn’t realized this abomination was attempting a return and I pray that this is a rare and non-repeated sighting.


Why Fashion Matters to Men


The overwhelming majority of men, despite the fact that we get dressed (most days),  just don’t care about fashion.  The question is, should we care?

And the answer is YES.

While what you wear shouldn’t matter to the extent that you will forgo saving money to buy the latest, trendiest thing or chase a particular brand despite the absurd price premium that it commands, there are many valid reasons why fashion is relevant to today’s average guy.  Lets start with the most basic and important reason.  What you wear serves as a form of communication to others about who you are.  Yes, we should all be judged based on the value of who we are as people, how we treat others, the quality of our work but the reality is others do make very personal judgments about us based on how we present ourselves.

How would you feel about your neurosurgeon if he walked into the room wearing a pair of tight, short, cut off denim jeans, cowboy boots and a sleeveless Hank Williams Jr. tee shirt with fringe cut into the bottom?  Would you trust him to cut into your brain?  Doubtful, though he may be the most skilled surgeon on the planet.  What if the only difference between two surgeons was that one walked in the room wearing a nicely pressed pair of pants, a wrinkle free fitted dress shirt, a properly tied tie along with matching belt and shoes and the second surgeon walked in with a wrinkly loose dress shirt, an off kilter tie, pants that are to baggy and loose and older scuffed shoes that don’t match his belt?  If you had to make an instant decision about which physician is going to take a scalpel to you I’m wiling to bet that 95 out of a hundred people will choose the first surgeon based on nothing more then how he is dressed.

What we wear communicates to others who we are.  It impacts how we want to be perceived.  In a professional setting it conveys education, training, knowledge and trust.  Someone who pays attention to detail in how they dress is likely to also pay attention to detail in how they perform their job and live their life.  Now in reality does the detailed dresser always pay more attention to the quality of their work or are they just more caught up in how they look?  Often style has no bearing on substance but it does communicate the impression of substance and frequently that is all that matters.  We all know individuals of questionable or limited competence who excel in the workplace not because of what they know but because of the impression that they convey.stripes

Does this mean you have to adopt the costumes that you see in magazines and on TV? Absolutely not but it does mean you have to give some thought to what you put on and some effort in making sure your wardrobe is current and fit wells.  If your closet is filled with pleated pants its time to donate them to Goodwill and buy a few new flat front pairs.  If your idea of  a nice tee shirt says Affliction or Ed Hardy its time to get out the blow torch and find something that wasn’t featured on MTV’s Jersey Shore.  If your idea of  a dressier going out shirt is a vertically striped, untucked button up shirt you are either a tool or still trying to wear what is trendy and cool but three years behind the times.  Whether on a date, hanging out with friends or at the work place, what you wear says a lot about who you are and what others should think of you.

For the shorter man fashion will never make you taller or change the perceptions that others may falsely hold about shorter men but it will allow you to present the best version of yourself that you would like others to see.  You can’t control what others think but you can control the message that you send out to the world.  You can show that you care about yourself.  You can utilize fashion to set the stage, preempting preconceived notions that others may have allowing you to dictate the course of your interactions with them.

Fashion communicates much more.  Fashion is often used to communicate social and economic status.  It creates a barrier between the haves and have-nots.  Upscale brands allow high status seekers to communicate to each other that they are of the same class.  Ostentatious displays of upscale brands communicate status and often insecurity about that status so the wearer makes sure that everyone knows they are worthy because they are walking billboards for Gucci, Prada, Channel or whatever the it brand of the moment is.  Is class differentiation via fashion a good thing, not really but it is a reality and one you should learn to utilize judiciously to your advantage.

Fashion has other positive features.  It can serve as a powerful form of self expression.  You can have some fun with your clothes and utilize them to draw attention to yourself in a positive way, to express your culture, beliefs or lifestyle or simply to feel good about yourself and in the end, that display of self confidence is the best thing you can ever wear.  Brands certainly take advantage of our desire to utilize fashion as a form or self expression.  Do you want to communicate to the world that you take healthy living and your fitness seriously then you’re likely to spend half your time walking around in Nike, Under Armor or Adidas.  And if you walk around in Lululemon instead it clearly sends a different message.  Are your jeans Levi or $250 selvedge denim from a small manufacturer.  In the end don’t let your choice in brands define you but feel comfortable utilizing fashion for fun and to bring out a little of your individuality.

Fashion designer Marc Jacobs gets credit for our next item.  Fashion is a luxury and as Jacobs points out, it is human nature to want and enjoy luxuries.  Be it because we enjoy the luxury or we enjoy that others are attracted to our luxury, either way there is nothing wrong with wanting and enjoying something on the nicer side of life.  Yes thrift and humility and living simply are positive virtues but it is quite alright to also embrace a touch of luxury.

And last but not least fashion is an economic powerhouse that keeps countless people employed.  While there are a handful of individuals who are getting rich from fashion (I’m not one of them) the majority of designers, pattern makers, garment workers, retail sales people, shippers and textile designers earn modest, if even that, livings from jobs directly related to the fashion industry.  Then their is the multiplying effect of all the other industries that touch the world of fashion from bankers, lawyers, accountants, technology professionals, web designers, advertising firms right down to they guy who takes the trash out at the mall where your favorite store is located.  Fashion is part of the economy and its impact is most certainly a positive thing.  That doesn’t mean you should blow through your paycheck buying new clothes and claim you were doing it for the good of others but you certainly don’t have to feel bad about updating your wardrobe a bit.

Do I still find most of the world of fashion utterly ridiculous.  You bet I do.  It is often absolutely absurd.  Women’s fashion ten times more so then men’s, and lets be thankful for that.  Despite the often laughable nature of what is considered fashion it doesn’t change the fact that fashion does matter and it is worth a small moment of your time.

Flocking, differentiation and generic fashion. Uniqlo’s CMO Jörgen Andersson gets it.

Inside Uniqlo - SOHO NYC

Inside Uniqlo – SOHO NYC

An interview with new Uniqlo CMO Jörgen Andersson in today’s Business of Fashion begins with a reference to a legal paper, “The Law, Culture and Economics of Fashion”.  In that paper, authors Scott Hemphill and Jeannie Suk address the concept in the world of fashion of differentiation and flocking.  Individuals want to express their individuality.  They want to present a style that is unique to themselves, a personal brand.  At the same time they want to belong to a group.  Be identified as a certain type of person and fit in with others that they want to be associated with.

Why flock?  We have an innate desire to fit in.  To be part of the group.  To be accepted.  For some it is a social status issue.  Certainly high-end brands communicate wealth and exclusivity.  Street brands communicate coolness and rebellion against any perceived existing establishment.  Athletic brands exude lifestyle choices.  There are countless boxes which can be used to describe the general groups, movements and communities which people want to flock to.  For some just being an accepted part of the group is the end goal.  Others wish to disappear within the group.  For many, within the context of a particular style and sub-culture there is a desire to still express an element of individuality.  Working from a foundation of a general style, individuals can then express their own uniqueness via a personal style that allows them to be part of a trend but not an exact replica of everyone else within the trend.

Billions of dollars are spent every year promoting these concepts of flocking and differentiation.  We call it branding and trend building.  Thousands of students take marketing classes on how to brand and hundreds of agencies promote themselves as experts in how to achieve this.  We hold up billion dollar brands from Nike to Lululemon to J.Crew to Gucci and more as examples of both how we want to be perceived as well as how a brand should impact society and consumers.

When I entered the apparel industry as a total neophyte I was armed with a transcript full of business classes on marketing and branding.  I thought my secret was going to be that I solved a unique problem that cut across the various subcultures.  Years later I still think that is the case but have to admit that I held, still do hold, certain brands in my head as examples of how I would like the business to one day appear to the public.  It’s part of the reason why this topic always resonates with me.  Fit issues always prevented me from embracing any brand and style that I wanted flock to.  It made me think about these same issues and for a period of time, feel like I was the only one expressing the struggle between the individuals desire to fit in and look like everyone else while also expressing individuality.  Of course now I know that there was nothing unique about that insight and I was just one of many who noted the issue.  While I can not say that my closet contains a single item from Uniqlo it does make me enjoy the refreshing honesty of their CMO, Andersson.

To read the full interview with Andersson follow this link:


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