Dudes Who Like Girl Clothes: Capsule Show Afterthoughts

When I was 11 and very much trying to get the attention of a 13 year old girl, I asked my Mom to get me a shirt from the Gap. It was a long-sleeved collared thing-“fancy!”-slathered in a bold, red floral pattern. It seemed like just the thing to set myself apart from the baggy t-shirted boy. When my mom saw it she smiled wryly and said “That’s some shirt, when I was a kid only the toughest guys in my neighborhood would wear a shirt like that.” I looked confused, so she explained, “ Anybody else would get beat up.”

There’s an inherent masculinity in embracing feminine attire: it requires a certain brash confidence to reject the safety of jeans and a t-shirt (not that there’s anything wrong with the classics). We seem to be stumbling now out of the lumberjack-costumed fog of the past few years and entering a refreshing and playful era in menswear.

There was no shortage of evidence of the trend at this week’s Capsule Show in Manhattan. Ryan posted a thoughtful overview, noting the “feminine inspirations” which showed up in booth after booth. A personal favorite was the label Marshall Artist, who took a grandma’s couch/training bra floral print and transferred it to beefy crewneck sweatshirts. Gilbert & Lewis took a subtler approach, stitching little flowers on the pockets of their tailored chinos. The Japanese label Yuketen chose to emboss their stunning leather boat shoes with elaborate baroque-inspired floral swirls. The classics are all still there-sweatshirts, khakis, boat shoes-but they’ve been softened by delicate flourishes.

We should mention, of course, that feminine-inspired menswear is nothing new. Just six years ago, Cam’ron gave American men permission to embrace pink and then purple in the way only a Harlem murder-rapper can. It could be said that the ever-slimmer jeans of the past decade were a foray into ladies’ attire. Men’s shirts embroidered with flowers ruled the 70s, just as baby tees paired with ultra baggy jeans (ushered in by rave culture) became acceptable for men in the 90s. What we’re seeing now, then, might be just the latest iteration of this liberating playfulness in men’s fashion. And that’s just fine with us.

It might be worth considering that this is a backlash against the intense hyper-masculinity of the Terror War years in this country, which started with fuzzy beards and heavy flannel and peaked with the campy Old Spice commercials parodying the impossibly masculine super-male. In that time, even the decor of a mesnwear store was paint-by-numbers Hemmingway: stacks of old books, taxidermied antelope heads, whale bone paperweights, antique barber poles. We fetishized heritage brands like Woolrich, Quoddy and Filson, seeking to embody the longshoreman on the way to our graphic design jobs.

We may also have noticed in this time that some of our classic men’s fashion motifs were co-opted by women. Traditional masculine prints like herringbone and houndstooth showed up in Chanel suits just as military-inspired garments dominated women’s collections.

It’s not for us to say. It may have just as well been Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits which sent male sensibilities looking for something softer. In any case, it’s a fresh, welcomed development and a thing dudes seem to like.

-Russell Morse

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Capsule Show: New York Men’s

Yesterday, my good friend and confidant, Russell Morse and I headed over to 11th Avenue in Chelsea to have a look at the Capsule Show Men’s Event. What we found was a blissfully curated selection of some of the finest menswear brands in the land.

As expected, there was a heavy overtone of timeless and classically inspired garb. Yet the industry did not feel stuck in the past, it felt exuberant and optimistic. Often we found our eyes drawn towards bold and playful prints from an assortment of designers. Many toyed with feminine inspirations, refreshingly hinting towards a looser, more explorative and expressive direction to men’s fashion.

of notoriety:

Brooklyn’s own Oviada & SonsAriel Ovadia of Ovadia & Sons with his spread and a gorgeous silk/cashmere double-breasted jacket

Sweden’s Our LegacyNot the greatest visual, but the shorts hanging on the right had a fantastic muted/subtle color palette that we were particularly fond of.

Billykirk 

212 local, REPO.BRAND. A true standout marked by inspired detailing. REPO’s website is also worth a look. super cool tie pin above and metal clasps on the fireman jacket below
 Liberty Cuffs
UK’s Marshall Artist displaying a couple of exceptional prints
Thanks to Andrew for showing us the Penny Stock and Vanishing Elephant collections. More prints from both
Velour had one of the best collections in terms of wearability with subtle styling and great texture. Also, possibly the best slogan
Great meeting Corey of NYC’s Parke & Ronen, here he is holding up a choice pair of hallucinogenically induced trunks
Inspiring and original footwear from Osborn 
Sweet bandana lining from V::room
and then there were the gentlemen of Monitaly and Yuketen, Mino and Yushi
Yuketen shoes
The alter-ego work of designers Jose Abellar and David Ayala known as Gilbert and Lewis. These shorts show great detailing, tastefully perfected inside and out 
weathered denim jacket, Closed 
And lastly, Christophe Loiron’s Mister Freedom. After meeting the amicable Mr. Loiron I have nailed down why I have such a soft spot for the brand: attitude. Honestly, it is just too damn cool. Everything- Loiron, the inspiration, the fabric, the designs and the garments, the brand in general. I asked Christophe if he had seen anything at the show that he liked. His response? He had no interest in seeing what others were up to. A testament to the Mister Freedom attitude and it exudes from his line: one-of-a-kind and exquisite. Kudos.
After all was said and done Capsule was a hell of a showcase: too many promising products, friendly folks and a downright good time. Thanks to everyone for taking the time to speak with Russell and me, and we look forward to more soon!
-Ryan Link