ShorteesStyle

fashion, lifestyle, dating and humor for the average guy

Archive for the tag “Short Men”

Tall men earn more then short men, what else is new?

004As the founder of a clothing line for short men I long ago became comfortable with the reality of my height.  I fully accepted that life isn’t fair, it is in fact universally unfair.  Attractive people have it easier than unattractive.  Some people suffer horrible illness or watch their loved ones suffer.  Others get everything handed to them and breeze through.  Somebody wins the lottery and someone else is run into at a stop light.  Being short to me wasn’t that bad of an issue to have to deal with.  Yes it made dating harder, I was never the guy that a women walked into a bar and wanted to meet but it just meant that I had to develop other social and personal skills along with a little perseverance.  In the workplace I have noticed that people are less responsive and open towards a short guy with his own opinion and a willingness to express it but that just made me more confident in my own thoughts and lead me towards a life of entrepreneurship.

Rarely do I take offense at the ridiculous things that people say and write.  I get a great laugh out of the occasional troll who reaches out to us online.  I thoroughly enjoy when one of my friends can actually come up with an original short joke that I haven’t heard a version of before.  I never take offense at a good one liner tossed out.  So it is an unusual exception for me to be bothered by some anti short guy comment.  I was a touch irritated when sitting with my fellow soccer fans at a local MLS game when someone started to heckle an opposing player simply because he was a Shortee.  Yes he didn’t play for my team but some out of shape, beer swilling, nachos dripping down his chest slob who couldn’t run up and back on the field had nothing better to toss out at a someone who had excelled at his sport to such a degree that he had managed to become a professional athlete and regularly play then a jab at his being short.  I’ll take my Messi card and play it any day of the week.

I was also surprised to be bothered by a recent article in The Atlantic; The Financial Perks of Being Tall.  It’s old news that tall people do better in the work force.  They get more promotions and are often seen as being leaders based on their height and superficial attributes, not on their knowledge, skills and accomplishments.  Yet for some reason I was thoroughly disturbed reading that,

In Western countries, a jump from the 25th percentile of height to the 75th—about four or five inches—is associated with an increase in salary between 9 and 15 percent. Another analysis suggests that an extra inch is worth almost $800 a year in elevated earnings. “If you take this over the course of a 30-year career and compound it,” one researcher told Malcolm Gladwell for his book Blink, “we’re talking about a tall person enjoying literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of earnings advantage.”

The article goes on to reference research suggesting that short men are less confident (not a surprise), less entrepreneurial and even less intelligent and less happy than taller individuals.  I’m sure with the right manipulation of data or a specific population I could prove just about anything as well.  Are their stupid short guys?  Of course.  Are there insecure ones?  No doubt.  Are their unhappy ones?  Plenty.  And the same can be said of average height men as well as tall men.

I consider myself secure, reasonably intelligent, capable of meeting interesting/attractive women (don’t tell my girlfriend, honey I never meet any interesting/attractive women) and generally happy.  Do I want more in life?  Yes, most people do but I am happy.  So as for the article in question, read it, be angry at it and what it say because it sucks that we make less in the workplace just because we are short and then go out and give the world the middle finger and do what you want to do, be who you want to be and at the end of the day, be happy (though maybe with a few hundred thousand dollars less).

To read the article in The Atlantic go here.

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Want to live longer? Be short.

Very Old Gravestones.

Who doesn’t want to live longer and be healthier.  I know I do and for that reason today is another good day to be short.

Yes a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine reported that tall men are less likely to develop heart disease then shorter men.  However if you read Dr. James Hamblin’s article in The Atlantic, you will soon learn that shorter southern European men have lower rates of cardiac death then their northern neighbors.  Those tall Swedish and Norwegian folks are twice as likely to die from heart disease as shorter Spanish and Portuguese people, who happen to be five inches shorter.  On top of that a 2013 study from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that short women have lower cancer risk.

Not convinced yet?  Another study found taller individuals at greater risk for cancer and with higher mortality rates from cancer.  And lets not forget the extra short Okinawan’s, the worlds longest living group with the worlds lowest rates of cancer and heart disease.  Yes there are multiple factors that contribute to the long lives of Okinawan’s but you can bet that height is one of the major contributors.

So the next time the cute girl at the bar chooses to go home with the tall blond guy, don’t worry, he doesn’t have nearly as much time as you to enjoy the extra attention he is getting now.

To read all of Dr. Hamblin’s article click here

Yahoo/ET shows love for 5’5″ Bruno Mars

 

Bruno Mars Taylor Swift

Usually when I come across an online post from a major outlet that mentions a guy’s shorter height the article turns out to be a shot at short men.  Even when they think they are trying to be complimentary it’s usually a back-handed compliment that actually insinuates that being short is somehow inferior to being tall.

Hey guess what, in our imperfect world it is.  Sure there are plenty of exceptions but overall women prefer taller men, taller men earn more and get ahead easier in the workplace and it’s just plain hard to reach those high shelves in the kitchen.  The world is also unfair to women, the overweight, older individuals, the poor, non-heterosexuals, and minorities.

Bruno Mars Victoria Secret

At the end of the day most of us who are short have learned to embrace it and love who we are.  I happily turned it into a business opportunity.  The last thing we need is the popular press taking cheep shots just because they need to push out so many meaningless pieces of material to fill their web pages and blogs so when there is a little love for the short man and a celebration of just how awesome he can be I want to take a moment and acknowledge it.  And yes, we have a sense of humor and know how it looks when we are standing next to an extremely attractive, extremely tall women.  I don’t think Bruno Mars is complaining about any of the company he is keeping in these pictures and I’ll bet those women are pretty happy to be next to him.  Funny how one of the worlds hottest musicians and entertainers is one of the shortest.  Perhaps the world should stop looking over our heads into the distance for the next great thing and glance down a bit.

For a great look at Bruno and the tall women in his life check out: https://tv.yahoo.com/news/bruno-mars-standing-next-tall-220000452.html

What Label is that? Will Men Buy The Same Brands Their Girlfriend Wears?

Looks from Michael Kors Autumn/Winter '14 Mens Collection | Source: Michael Kors

Looks from Michael Kors Autumn/Winter ’14 Mens Collection | Source: Michael Kors

The menswear market is growing.  Faster then women’s.  Will today’s average guy be willing to slap his girlfriends label on his shirt?  We’re betting the average guy doesn’t know who Michael Kors or Tory Burch is.  And those that do are willing to put on whatever their wife or girlfriend buys them, just so long as they don’t have to go to the mall to try it on.  The upscale men’s fashion market in the US is small.  For all the blogs and TV coverage about fashion, most men don’t care.  They want basics that make them look like they belong.  Most men don’t want anything that is going to stand out to much and the smaller percentage that do, don’t want to be to loud and overstated.  Just look good and have a dash of something that will garner a compliment.  Sure there will always be a small fashion forward market and yes, it will generate billions for the luxury houses and brands that capture it but it will still make up a small percentage of the menswear sold.  And for today’s shorter man, forget it.  The odds of any of the major fashion brands catering to us is slim to none.  Perhaps if you are extra lean and closer to the 5’7″-5’8″ mark you can squeeze into a small, otherwise you’re out of luck.

NEW YORK, United States — When Michael Kors’ 22,000-square-foot flagship opens at 520 Broadway in Soho this December, there will be a floor dedicated to accessories and fragrances, another to women’s fashion and shoes and another, entirely stocked with menswear, kicking off the multi-billion-dollar brand’s foray into the men’s market. “From there, we will begin to test free-standing men’s stores next year and believe that there may be the potential for as many as 500 men’s stores worldwide over the long term,” said Michael Kors chairman and CEO John Idol on an earnings call in August. The company projects its men’s business will generate $1 billion in revenue by 2017.

By Lauren Sherman, Dec 15, 2014 at Business of Fashion.

Read the rest at: http://www.businessoffashion.com/2014/12/womenswear-brands-make-play-mens-market.html

The changing face of men’s fashion designers

Selling clothes that people actually want to wear.  That was the message that Paul Trimble, a founder of Ledbury, expressed in a recent New York Times article, “But Can They Write Fashion Code? “New wave of male entrepreneurs changing fashion scene”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/22/fashion/new-wave-of-male-entrepreneurs-changing-fashion-scene.html?_r=0

This article struck close to home as the founder of a men’s clothing line that was designed to not to express some unmet creative need or cater to an elite sartorially inclined group but to meet the need of a large and long overlooked segment of the population that craves basic, classic pieces that actually fit.  A simple solution to a long standing problem.  Shortees was founded with a simple mission, create a t-shirt that could be worn untucked by shorter men.

I identify with the founders of these companies as someone with no fashion design or industry experience who dove into the deep end on the first try.  Like them it was far harder then I ever imagined.  The lack of industry knowledge, unfamiliarity with the secret language that all industries use to streamline communications and keep outsiders from understanding what is going on and the total lack of connections have made it a near impossible task some days.

Every day that I get online I find multiple new apparel companies and countless others talking about starting one.  The entrepreneurial side of me salutes every one of these founders or prospective founders for taking the bold step.  The practical side of me wants to shake them and say they have no idea what they are getting into and the odds of their success are vastly small then they could ever imagine.  When I started Shortees I at least had the advantage of having completed business school along with a number of years of experience developing small businesses so I understood both the challenge as well as many of the business functions that were going to be necessary.  Even with those skills I still faced a monumental challenge entering an industry I knew nothing about , and still feel that I barely know.

The t-shirt industry is a unique animal.  For most new brands they stake their space based on graphics and the segment of the population that identifies with their ascetic and lifestyle message. The growth of street-wear totally changed the t-shirt market and made it not only cool but a potential source of riches.  The tales of small brands started by no-names in their garages abound.  Suddenly everyone thinks they have the greatest new graphics that everyone will love as much as their close friends and mother does.  For these founders the path is actually quite simple.  Pick any of the countless mass produced blank t-shirts that are manufactured in enormous quantities.  They are quite inexpensive and readily available in both large and small quantities.  Find a decent screen printer and for a few hundred dollars more you have inventory.  Throw up a basic shopping site for a few hundred to thousand more and you are in business.  For a lucky few the orders start rolling in.  For  the majority its a lesson in Field of Dreams Theory.  If you build it they will not come.  You have to go out and find them and drag them back to you.

For those like Shortees that want or need to redesign their products and have them manufactured to custom specs its an entirely different and much more challenging process.  Designers, pattern makers, sample makers all have to be identified and vetted.  If you can get through that process then you have to deal with finding a manufacturer.  While there are hundreds if not thousands of garment factories around the world finding one that can not only make your product but make it to your actual specifications at an acceptable level of quality is an enormous challenge.  Then there is the cost.  If you just want to print a few dozen to a few hundred shirts its pretty affordable.  If you need to go through the entire design process and custom manufacture its an entirely different economic scale.  Tens of thousands at a minimum if not hundreds.  And we haven’t even touched on web site development and marketing costs.

As I read the New York Times article what stands out to me about the companies they mention are the backgrounds of their founders.  Private equity, finance, technology.  These founders are used to six figure incomes and had resources to finance their new projects or at least savings to support themselves as the launched their new careers.  Do I feel bad for the failure of You Tube founder Chad Hurley’s foray into upscale apparel and accessories with Hlaska? Not at all.  He will be fine living off his millions.  I stumbled upon a Hlaska store when they first appeared.  They suffered from the same mistake that many others do.  Simply launching a brand and expecting that by virtue of your price point that consumers will identify and value you as a luxury brand.  Yes it works for some brands but it either takes a lot of money, time and patience or a great deal of luck.  Most luxury brands earned their way to the top or spent a fortune positioning themselves there.  Though Chad, if you want to invest in an up and coming men’s brand focusing on the 25% of the population under 5’8″, touch base.  I’m easy to find.

I’m proud of my roots in personal training.  Shortees was built on the back of hundreds and hundreds of personal training sessions and continues to be supported by my other business.  Its the primary reason for the slow growth of my apparel company.  It would have been wonderful and ideal to work full time on Shortees but I had the misfortune of having to earn a living while I launched it and generating some form of cash flow to support the company until it was able to reach a self sustaining level.  Even today our biggest limiting factor is the cost of expanding is greater then what we can cover at any given time.  The result, a slow but steady growth curve and a long list of happy but frustrated customers that want more then what we can deliver them.

Do I feel like a fashion designer?  Not usually but some days. So go out and support your local small scale fashion designer.  Skip the big box retailer and large fashion houses and try something new.  You never know, your next favorite shirt may be designed by a former equity trader, internet-technology start up code writer or even a personal trainer.

Men’s pants are getting to tight and short.

The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan gives up a well summed up look at the state of the ever shrinking men’s pant.  We agree fully with her, slimmer cuts are a good thing but taken to far is just well, to far.  Unless you are wearing shorts we don’t want to see your ankles when you are standing up and we certainly don’t want to be able to tell if you are circumcised through your pants.  If you are short it’s even more important to make sure you have the right cut.  If you pants are to short and start showing off to much ankle it will only make you look shorter.  And while to baggy of a cut will be unflattering, there is huge difference between slim and tight.

This is the era of ever-shrinking men’s trousers — they are tailored and shorter, tighter and shrunken, too tight and too short. And even occasionally veering into: Pitbull, exactly how are you breathing in those high-­waisted white pants?

The look of menswear changes at a snail’s pace, and sometimes it takes years before a not-at-all outlandish idea trickles from the runways, which are now hosting the spring 2015 collections, to the mass market. But when a fashion idea finally reaches the vast middle ground, it tends to stay a while, putting down roots in the menswear landscape.

Thus we are deep in fashion’s equivalent of an old-growth forest — surrounded by men in aggressively tailored pants.

The ubiquity of this trend, even in offices far away from the expected crucibles of creativity, had an executive at a Maryland real estate development firm recently marveling, with some chagrin, that the men in her office were given to wearing particularly close-fitting trousers, which she described as “tight.” While that is a judgment call, it’s true that the cut of men’s pants — the more fashionable cut, that is — has gotten snugger, much snugger than what it was back when Giorgio Armani’s loose Italian tailoring defined power and President Bill Clinton was wearing roomy Donna Karan suits.

To read the rest of the article follow the following link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/fashion-puts-men-in-a-tight-spot-with-pants-that-keep-shrinking/2014/06/24/aee7c8a0-f728-11e3-a606-946fd632f9f1_story.html

Bad Fashion: Bottle Rock 2014 edition

A little to coordianted

A little to coordinated

The summer festival season is upon us.  That means warm summer days, cold beer and a few outfits worth raising an eyebrow over.  This summer the Shortees team hit Bottle Rock in Napa California and we weren’t disappointed, in the music or the fashion.  While we weren’t able to capture every outrageous look, here are a few items that caught our attention.

Our opening look is quite the stunner.  We are always captivated but never impressed by the onsie look or those who take matching to an extreme.  Yes your friends can find you in a crowd but do they really want to?

A little to much national pride

A little to much national pride

 

 

 

Ok we get it.  You love the USA.  Maybe you should love it a bit more and not sit on it Malph.  And if you get that reference perhaps you to have a neon tank top in the bottom of your dresser drawer. (Yes Weezer did play and while it took 45 minutes for us to realize they weren’t animatrons, they sounded great)

 

 

 

These next two gentleman were kind enough to spend a set or two reminding us why there is a certain population of men that would rather not associate with.  I’m sure they spend their days comparing card stock and perfecting their Christian Bale American Psycho impersonations.  We all felt sorry for the girls in their group.

Bottle Rock 2014 American Psycho 1

Bottle Rock 2014 American Psycho 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is so much wrong with their shorts.  One highlighting a pair of Izod pants that look they were stolen from his grandfathers closet and the other still clinging to the notion that they can make tight jean shorts cool again.  Both failing miserably.  As for the fanny packs.  It doesn’t matter how ironically, throwback cool you think they are, just throw them away.

We wouldn’t forget the ladies.  While events such as this are an opportunity to pull out your wildest costumes, and we often appreciate it, sometimes it would just be better to pull it back a bit.

Bottle Rock 2014 bad girls fashion

Modern dating for the short guy: Volume 1, Setting the stage for the ultimate online profile.

dating 1

Dating.  It’s the most wonderful, stressful, mysterious, joyous, frustrating process there is.  For today’s shorter man, it can be an even more challenging nut to crack then for our taller brethren.  That said, it doesn’t have to be a source of misery; with a little planning and thought, it can actually be a great experience.  One that makes you think twice about settling down.

Let’s begin with the obvious challenge.  Women can be as shortsighted, closed minded and hypocritical as men.  Often even worse.  Guys are lambasted for judging women on superficial criteria, first among them weight.  Yet women use the descriptor “tall” all day long when looking for a great guy and never take any heat for it.  It seems like 90% of the women out there are specifically asking for a tall man.  Well I have bad news for the ladies,  there are more short men out there than tall.  So if you want a great guy, you may have to “settle” and discover why men 5’8″ and under may be answer you’ve been seeking all along.

In my own days of dating, time and again I read profiles that called out for tall men.  I usually ignored those.  On occasion, I would hear back from someone I had written, only to hear how cool they thought I sounded but sorry, they didn’t think it would work out.  This led to my unscientific, yet revealing research study.

Whenever someone would take the time to respond with a “hey, you sound great but I don’t think this would work”, I would send them back a nice note thanking them for having the courtesy to write back and ask them for a small favor.  In the interest of trying to improve my profile I was curious what it was that gave them the final impression that things wouldn’t work out.  I would offer up a list of possible reasons and hide “my height” somewhere in the middle.  I would promise not to be mad at them whatever the reason and be genuinely interested in their thoughts.  Every single time the answer was height.

While no profile is perfect and going to appeal to everyone, I had received enough compliments and other positive feedback about mine to know that it wasn’t bad and had the potential to attract the interest of a fair number of women. This process happened enough times to convince me that if I had listed my height as 5’10” or higher I would have had a significantly higher response ratio.  While there isn’t great data on what response rates are to online messages I have seen numbers that range anywhere from 20-30%.  These values seem reasonable for the average person who has a nice profile and can write a half decent first note, though there will always be curve breakers who have the good fortune of attracting just about everyone.  For the shorter man the response ratio is going to be something closer to 1-5%.  At first glance this sounds discouraging, and some weeks it is.  But look at the brighter side, if you are willing to put the time in and work the numbers to your advantage you can do quite well.

Now the question is how to go about racking up those dating numbers.  For the lucky few who have no fear about going up to an attractive women and talking to her, the direct approach is fantastic.  It gives you an immediate chance to shine and impress her with your wit and conversation skills.  It has the added bonus of giving you the opportunity to evaluate her to see if she would be interesting enough to you to actually go on a date or if she is just another pretty face.  The challenge to this approach is that you have to be comfortable facing rejection and the reality is the majority of men, as confident and secure as we are, wilt under the fear of being told by a complete stranger that they are not interested in us and want to be left alone.  That fear of embarrassment relegates most men to stand on the sidelines.  While there are women who will approach a guy, the reality is most women want to be pursued to some extent.  Even today’s feminist, professional, hard chargers still appreciate being desired and having a guy make the first move.

So if tossing out your best pick up lines at the local bar isn’t going to do the trick what will?  The answer is obvious, especially if you are reading this on-line right now.  On-line dating isn’t just an option, its the killer app of your new personal life.  On-line dating sites have made the process of meeting that special someone easier than ever with the added benefit of removing the fear and embarrassment associated with in person attempts to pick someone up.  The following advice is relevant regardless of which dating site you choose.  There are differences between the sites and they will attract different populations of people but the same basic principles can be applied to any of them.  The one exception is if you are pursuing the pure sexual hook-up.  That is a different sort of profile and one we will save for another discussion.

The first element of your dating profile is the title.  It’s the first thing she will read and it doesn’t matter one lick.  Don’t spend to much time trying to figure out something that perfectly reflects who you are.  It doesn’t matter.  Let me say it again, it doesn’t matter.  She doesn’t care one bit what you call yourself.  Just pick something that doesn’t scream “I’m a douche-bag who will dump you the moment I score with you.”  Why doesn’t the title/name you pick matter?  Because all she is looking at is your picture.

Element Two: The picture.  Arguably the most important piece of the puzzle.  An online profile only goes so far in telling who you are.  It needs to be interesting and funny enough to make her want to talk to you and learn more about you.  But at the end of the day she has to be able to look at you and feel some attraction, or at least not be repelled by your serial killer, lives in your mom’s basement vibe.  You need at least three pictures.  That is the minimum to show that you really are who you are presenting and that you actually look like the person in the lead photo.  Less then three and it leaves too many questions.  First among them: why didn’t you care enough about meeting someone great to post more than one or two pics.  If you want to go beyond three, fine, but stop at six.  You are not trying to show how cool and interesting you are by showing a photo album of everything interesting you have ever done.  More then six screams that you are trying too hard.

The most important photo is your main picture.  This key photo is the one that shows up on searches or with any emails you send.  It should clearly show your face.  If you want to show your torso that is fine as well, but if it shows your entire body then it is probably too small to give the viewer a good look at your face.  The picture should be no older then 24 months and ideally within the year.  If she agrees to go out with you she will instantly see what you look like.  If you do not resemble your picture it’s an instant deal breaker for her so be honest about what you look like.  That said, choose a picture that is flattering to you.  It should go without saying, but time and again people post pictures that do not do a good job of showing off the best versions of themselves.  Often you will peruse the rest of someone’s pictures and wonder why they put one up that is really unflattering, especially when they use it as their main picture.

The main pain picture should show only you.  No buddies, no best girlfriends, no hot ex-girlfriends.  It will not show you to be popular and attractive.  You will come across as to caught up with trying to appear popular and cool instead of confident and secure.  If the best photos of you have other people in them, crop the other people out.  By all means, if it’s a great picture of you use it.  Just remember with today’s technology it’s super easy to crop a photo.  In pictures 2-6 you can have other people in the photo as long as it is an action shot of you doing something or a very natural celebration of something.  No excessively posed photos with other people.  And limit the number of pictures that include other people.  One is enough.  Two max.  You don’t want her wishing that she was talking to the other guy in the pic because he is cuter and you won’t come across as better looking by standing next to the ugliest guy you know.

In your second or third picture you should include a full body picture.  Just like your main face picture, she will instantly see what you look like on date one and if you were not honest about your weight/body type the date might as well be over instantly.  Everyone knows that if every photo you have up is a close up head shot then you are hiding something.  This is not the time or place to prove a point about the attractiveness and value of people regardless of their weight and shape.  While we should all be judged by who we are, start that process by being honest and comfortable with what you are really like.   If you look nice, have a fun profile and have a good email exchange she won’t mind if you don’t look like a fitness model.

Keep your clothes on.  Absolutely no mirror shots with your shirt off.  If you are doing something active and you have your shirt off that is one thing, assuming you have the body to back it up, but be subtle here.  Let her know you are fit if you are but don’t over-advertise it.

Use pictures that show what you look like, not pictures that only show what far off lands you’ve visited and cool adventures you’ve had.  So you’ve done a headstand on top of Half Dome and in front of the Pyramids of Giza.  So what.  A hundred other people on the same site have as well.  Really.  Save your travel discussions for your second date.  Your pictures are there to give her a peak at what you look like.  Nothing more.  If a great picture that shows how you look happens to be in an interesting location all the better.  It gives her something to comment on in those all important early exchanges, but if the picture doesn’t show you off well then it’s a waste.

If you have three or less pictures they all need to be from within the last two years.  If you have more, you can include an older picture if it is really special but be sure to label it so she knows that it is not the most current version of you.  If you have gained or lost a significant amount of weight be sure that all of your photos reflect how you actually look now.  You should be noticing a trend in my advice towards honesty.  Even though you are meeting people online it’s no excuse to lie.  You don’t have to volunteer all of your bad habits and traits right up front and you can present the best possible version of yourself, this is a sales and marketing job after all, but be honest.  All lies come out eventually and you don’t want the girl of your dreams, or even your next weekend hook up to bail on you because you were dishonest.  Nothing is worse then showing up expecting one person and finding something significantly different.

Do have a close, trusted friend or two review your pics.  Even better, have a few women you know give you feedback.  They love doing that.  Online dating is nothing to be embarrassed about and other people will genuinely want you to do well and will give you honest feedback.  If they think your pictures do not present a flattering image of you there is probably something valid to their advice.

Tune in for Volume 2 of our dating guide for short guys where we will continue to lead you through the process of creating an online dating profile that is sure to help you make an impression with the ladies.  Remember, height does not  have to be a disadvantage.  You can use it as an asset to help you craft the perfect profile and attract the women you’ve been looking for.

Why Fashion Matters to Men

sweaters

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: http://www.businessoffashion.com/2014/04/uniqlo-cmo-jorgen-andersson-consumer-culture-generic.html

 

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