Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Passion for Fashion
I'm not a fashionista OR a metrosexual, the term for men into fashion. In fact, my wife thinks I'm one of the least fashionable men around. Mostly because I don't give a crap about how I look most of the time. I don't remember the last time I combed my hair, and sometimes I skip taking a shower (depends on my mood). As for clothes, I do have some stylish pieces and looks, but in general, I'm not that into fashion! However, since being in NYC, I cannot help but be drawn to the fashion movement and have an ear to the ground for what's hot and cool.
I have learned major designers names and now coo at hearing about designers making exclusive lines for particular stores like Gap or J. Crew. Before moving to the big city, however, I couldn't tell you who Diane von Furstenburg, Alexander McQueen, or Isaac Mizrahi, or Marc Jacobs were. Now, I'm HOOKED on the show, Project Runway (thanks Kim) its spin-off Project Accessory as well as 24-hour Catwalk and the Fashion Fund mini-episodes (on Hulu). I still sometimes say to myself, 'Who is that?' and my wife goes, 'WHAT! you don't know (fill in the name of some really famous designer)? Then, I look up what the designer does on the computer and google about biography, background, style, etc. I was clueless about this world before living in Brooklyn.
In fact, just yesterday, I hung out with an old friend (she's not old..I've known her for a while). I actually consider her a 'phantom high school' friend. I just created that myself. We didn't go to high school together (in the same generation or at the same school). However, I KNOW that if we had gone to school together, that we would have been really good friends. She used to dress in vintage styles from different decades; she shopped at thrift shops. I wore snapping cowboy shirts and Dickies work pants. We both dressed in kooky styles put together from other decades, and didn't care about brand names or labels.
So yesterday, as we're walking around Manhattan, she tells me that being in NYC, you cannot escape being somewhat inspired/intrigued by the fashion world. She was saying that every single magazine in her hotel room had to do with fashion. Not only this, but her son (who is more brand conscious, as are most teenagers nowadays) bought some green Nike shoes. He needed new shoes, and he wanted Nike shoes, so I recommended they check out Nike Town (surprisingly, the shoes weren't astronomical as expected). I have to say that the shoes are wicked cool, and my friend's 13-year-old will be the toast of his middle school upon returning.
Other people walking around noticed the shoes and remarked how cool they were. In fact, my friend and her son were directing people to Nike Town. They were a walking advertisement. I, thereby, challenge anyone to come to New York and not be enchanted by fashion and trends. You see ads and fashion references on billboards, in the subway, on passing buses, even in any newspaper or news broadcast. And don't say, 'I don't have a lot of money!' There are cheap-o brand name shoe and clothing stores in Brooklyn and even Manhattan has deals. Heck, go to Chinatown and buy some knock-off purses (although I've been told that the city has cracked down).
My own history with fashion isn't completely null and void. I started getting into J. Crew and Brooks Brothers back in college. Actually, I had three personal shopper: my best friend Sarah T.; my sister, Margaret; and my wife Clair. They got me into wearing pink shirts and pin stripe trousers. My wife and I, back when we were JUST friends used to go to Easton (a posh outdoor mall in Columbus) and go to Abercrombie and J. Crew. Back then, Hollister and American Eagle was considered 'fancy' for me. Though, now I'm more of a Brooks Brothers/J. Crew sort. My first wool trousers were purchased at J. Crew, as was my first cashmere sweater. At the advice of the women mentioned above, I began to embrace color and style. I took advice on what 'looked good' on me and what didn't. In fact, I still have some of these recommended purchases in my closet!
Since living here, in New York City, I find myself actually caring about how I look before I go out (especially if I'm going to Manhattan). There is a poster I always see in the subway, and advertisement for Manhattan Storage: "New Yorkers don't dress better than everyone else, we just act like it." That pretty much sums up the persona.
Below, you will find shots I took of mannequins/store displays around Manhattan and Brooklyn:
Even from the shop windows and mannequins, you can see that fashion is art in NYC. And, there is a style for EVERYONE under the sun! Plus, here you don't have to look very far to see inspiration and unique ideas. On the subway, bus, and in the streets, you are bombarded by different styles and ways of wearing clothes. I have noticed that the 80's has come back in full style here: big shoulders, big hair, clunky jewelry. However, I often see other decades too. I've seen dapper looking men with wax in their moustache (to style in circa 1900's) wearing suspenders, a bow-tie, and then mixing it up with a 70's style polyester suit. I've seen women with punk hairstyles and tattoos wearing a 50's dress silhouette/style. People here are all about fashion, and it crosses cultures, religions, ages, genders, sexualities, nationalities. Often different groups get inspiration from each other.
I would have never in a million years thought that I'd admit that the first thing I'd do at becoming famous and/or wealthy is to get myself a personal shopper/stylist at Bloomingdale's mens' department. Seriously, you walk into the basement where the menswear is, and you are bombarded by classic suits and hip urban chic men's clothing. It is NOT some middle America Macy's or commercialized mall department store. You see items at Bloomingdale's that are unlike anything you've ever seen. They have top designers and signature brands (like Ralph Lauren Polo, Calvin Klein, and Tommy Hilfiger). But, there are also designers you've never heard of, or at least ones that I haven't heard of. The mens' department at Bloomingdale's is amazing! If you are male, go there, and try not to be hypnotized by cool fashion styles and trends. I include the website below, BUT be warned that for the full effect of male fashion obsession to take place, you have to go in person for the ambiance and effect. The prices will make you cringe, but then you'll wish you had that amount of cash so you could look so cool!
(below): pics of Bloomingdale's menswear department:
I think it's great that straight men are embracing a once man taboo. Of course men can be into fashion and this hobby have no bearing on one's sexuality. After all, the days of 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy' are over. Men are learning how to dress themselves and embrace v-necks, Italian suits, and bright colors. It is cool to be fashionable if you're a guy. Guys of the world, know that you are not a 'sissy' for being interested in brands, designers, and fashion. The trend is growing, and sooon...
Below are some pics of NYC street fashion (the last three are my own pictures):
You will become a FASHUN-MISTA (or a Man-shion-ista)! That's my new term for guys who are into fashion (I like the former better). And just so you know, guys of all stripes are fashionable these days. That includes men in both the gay and straight worlds. There are plenty of straight, macho men who are into fashion (especially in NYC). In fact, men are blogging about it and it is consuming the mans' world. Nascar, football, baseball, and golf are pastimes of yesteryear. The new 'guy' thing to do is to be a fashun-mista!
~NY Observer article on Men and Fashion