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What are the greatest menswear brands of all time?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by YoungAmerican, Sep 18, 2012.

  1. yywwyy

    yywwyy Well-Known Member

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    Well said.
     
  2. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Well-Known Member

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    One difference, though, is that music can be a very personal experience that you don't have to share or be seen doing. Fashion or what you wear is not. As such, this opens it up to a very different set of mental categories and ideas about what is/can be "good" or bad. When one calls a Gaultier skirt "ridiculous," much of that may be because of the ultimate social nature in which he'd have to enjoy it, not because of any inherent technical issues with its "construction" (as opposed to, say, a musical piece in which the particular construction of notes, or its method of recording, renders it to your ears unlistenable)

    In this way, I'd say that a music consumer is MUCH more open and free to what music he listens to than what he considers consumable in fashion.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  3. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Well-Known Member

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    Although it's possible Spotify is changing this. I agree that there's a difference compared to music though, but I think it's a difference of degree, not kind. Most people's enjoyment of art in any form is heightened through social interaction. There are definitely artists that it's "not cool" to like, and people who do like them might be quiet about it, and that might decrease their enjoyment of the music itself. But at the same time, they don't have to wear it on their body all the time, so there's certainly a difference in degree, even compared to art, which if purchased is then displayed prominently in one's home.
     
  4. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Well-Known Member

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    Good points. I guess my thinking was that while we all (assuming we are of a certain age) have a few ELO songs hidden somewhere on an Ipod or CD, very few of us own a Gaultier skirt. In this way, the social nature of one over the other thus changes the entire set of categories by which we automatically think of it. As mentioned two or three posts ago, it is this "automaticity" that interests me with fashion, how a certain designer changed what we otherwise would never have considered upon opening our closet.

    Obviously, many musicians have done this as well (read what people thought at the premier of Stravinsky's Firebird or Tchaikovsky's violin concerto), but it is a very big difference given the inherently social nature of clothes.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  5. hendrix

    hendrix Well-Known Member

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    I know you already know this, but I'd just like to point out to the others in the thread:


    • Tailored clothing did not arise as an architectural means of flattering the body. It arose out of the fabrics, traditions and fashions of the time and the abilities and limits of tailors.
    • There are some elements of tailored clothing that can be said to be flattering, but it would be ridiculous to suggest that departure from the norms of tailoring is necessarily unflattering. Moreover, just because there are abc rules to a flattering silhouette doesn't mean there can't be xyz
    • Not everyone wants to have their bodies flattered in the Darwinian sense - i.e. we don't necessarily care to have a nipped waist and strong shoulder or elongated legs etc etc. This is because humans are intelligent and see past things like a lion's mane and a puffed up puffer fish, but also because some of us like to intellectually flatter ourselves - interestingly sculpted lines and patterns for the point of visual interest can be more attractive than just making yourself look strong.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Well-Known Member

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    Interesting! Quick point (as I"ve got to get to work!), but one of the interesting thing about non-western designers, especially Yohji, has been the extent to which they've pushed the bounds on what is "flattering" and questioned that Darwinian mindset, showing that it's more social darwinism than biological.

    I seem to recall reading an interview about how he developed his style, after seeing a lot of the history of traditional menswear and finding that it was basically just a codeword for a quite narrow, western, historical trend... nothing in the "darwinian" sense. Anyway, he basically said, "imagine me wearing an A&S suit... I'd look completely ridiculous and it would hardly be flattering."

    He developed his own style as a response to this, and though he's not an intellectual, I often find his garments to be an interesting commentary on what "flatters" the human body and its shapes. We aren't all the same shape, and won't all look good in the same things, though a certain set of (western, white) men seem to think so.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
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  7. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Well-Known Member

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    Excellent posts rach.

    I've been wanting to write a more elaborate post for a couple of years now segmenting men's clothing into consumerist, artisanal, and conceptual categories. By conceptual, I mean the same thing as when you say "critical." Artisanal means the anti- or pre-industrial production processes that we and others tend to fetishize.

    It seems to me than many of the arguments that come up here are a result of people trying to shove one segment's values or paradigm into another. A consumerist generally has very "pragmatic" concerns, such as whether a particular piece will make them look good, get the approval of others, and will last a long time. He'll then criticize designer runways for not according to his values - "that's not something I or anyone I know would wear" he'll say. This seems to completely miss the point, that designers are concerned with conceptual contributions, and how something adds to an already existing conversation about design, form, and concepts. It's about how one sees the world, or a particular aspect of it, not whether someone on the street might want to wear their designs to an office party.

    Similarly, people here often feel the need to justify artisanal production processes with consumerist values, which seems ass-backwards to me. There's no reason to have to justify handwork by the measure of whether it makes something fit better or last longer. Some things exist purely for artisanal reasons, and you either value those things or you don't.

    It would be helpful, I think, if people understood these differences, and instead of trying to read one world's values into another, they could just say "that's not particularly something I care about." Rather than be flippant about things they don't really understand.

    Obviously, in practice, almost every line will have these three elements running through it - consumerist, artisanal, and conceptual. But we can think of brands that lean more heavily towards one than the others. RL = consumerist; GJ Cleverly = artisanal; Comme des Garcon = conceptual.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  8. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Well-Known Member

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    I've always thought Sun Ra was a clever way to get the redistribution of money going from white people to black people during a time of greater inequality.

    (I admit for one year in college, I liked Sun Ra. The feeling passed, thankfully).
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
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  9. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Well-Known Member

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    Great post. I like the third "artisanal" category; I hadn't thought of that. To the bolded, I think that the opposite exists as well (Fok mentioned this earlier, too). In many cases, consumerist production processes are often justified through artisanal production, even when such production is completely unnecessary or doesn't add to real value (whether as utility or even as artistic production).

    I spent $9000 on these shoes because they were sewn by a single old man using a platinum needle and molding the last by pressing it under his armpit for eleven weeks, after which he buried the leather in the ground for twenty years to get the antique color, etc etc.... Look at the handwork on this suit! even when the handwork becomes so egregious as to take away from the actual aesthetic qualities of the suit (and to draw attention to itself screaming, "I'M HANDWORK!")
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  10. hendrix

    hendrix Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely, it was a bad choice of words. I meant Darwinian flattering to categorise what Western tailors argue as the features to flatter - shoulder, nipped waist, elongation etc.

    Basically the argument breaks down at every step; I can't even categorically say which features are actually attractive:
    a) You could nearly say that broad shoulders is a sexually selected trait, but there are plenty of well built men with narrow shoulders who have a silhouette that's quite physically attractive as well (and not in the less-masculine way either, I'll get to that). Possibly a strong brow and a sharp jawline - but tailoring can do little to alter this. What features are indeed attractive and how can clothing actually flatter the body without looking ridiculous? Very hard to say.

    b) Artificial selection in humans is a bit of a joke anyway. The breeding majority are not what they should be. We're not getting stronger or faster or better hunters. We're getting smarter, less aggressive, more social etc etc.

    c) Again it comes down to what individual people find attractive and interesting, and what looks good on individual bodies, and what looks good itself is in the eye of the beholder etc etc.

    This is not to say I disagree with traditional tailoring, I just don't like the argument that a break from tradition is going to be unflattering or even that we should care.
     
  11. NorCal

    NorCal Well-Known Member

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    Excellent point.
    Punk Rock was another fashion/lifestyle movement that was in many ways a rejection of conforming to social context as well as Darwinian ideals of physical attractiveness.
     
  12. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Well-Known Member

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    ^I'll go back to my original statement of taking preferences as primitive (in the sense of being the basic assumption). The way to figure out if something looks good is not to go investigating what physical traits were advantageous on the plains of Africa, and then investigate if these traits are accentuated in said garment. The way to figure out if something looks good is to look at it. Hardy Amies quote I'm too lazy to type out again:

    http://ivorytowerstyle.tumblr.com/post/31099567302/to-this-as-to-anything-else-that-is-designed-and
     
  13. hendrix

    hendrix Well-Known Member

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    Well obviously, but you don't just look at something without your senses, your memory, your thoughts, your experiences determining how you perceive it.

    That's getting into philosophy but it's true. Looking at something is not the same thing as perceiving something.
     
  14. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Well-Known Member

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    ^Yes but that's not the distinction I meant. I meant, you can't explain to someone that something can't possibly look good for the reason that it makes his left ear look big and large left ears where particularly disadvantageous for humans tens of thousands of years ago, whereas something else must look good because it makes the right elbow stand out more, and prominent right elbows were a valued trait evolutionarily.
     
  15. hendrix

    hendrix Well-Known Member

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  16. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Well-Known Member

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    Anyone remember this?

    Hilarious.
     
  17. The Thin Man

    The Thin Man Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my posts.

    I'm actually not a Citizen Kane fan either, but I hope you can admit that a great deal of thought went into it, that it contained a great deal of technical innovation, that it influenced other movies that are worth watching, Vern.

    I personally think people are most interesting when they aren't just a sum of their cultural inheritance, when they pursue unique paths of thinking and living, so that what they happen to like says something unique about them. Or better yet, what they happen to like says something unique about the world.

    That one is able to like possessions because he is not a serf isn't the most interesting thing to say about a person's tastes.

    I wasn't advocating presciptivism. I would say that "creativity" in clothing that isn't a lasting source of inspiration for others isn't worthy of the name. Or of being deemed "great."
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  18. alexSF

    alexSF Well-Known Member

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    He did this also in the beach :happy:

     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  19. The Thin Man

    The Thin Man Well-Known Member

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    I don't know what objective knowledge of human endeavors really is. The best we can hope for is intersubjective agreement, so let's keep talking. Being able to articulate one's perspective is perhaps a rare talent, and highly valuable.

    Some of my favorite Style Forum posts succeed at this, and are not at all what you are describing. I'd point you toward Holdfast's reasoning behind what he wears, or the post from a couple of months ago by a SW&D member describing their favorite clothes that Fok put on the front page. Really any well-informed member getting at the roots of what he likes is usually interesting.

    Just because describing one's aesthetic sense is never going to be a perfect excercise doesn't mean that when executed well, it can't be rewarding for others. I tend to value rationality and reflection even when achieving them is more of a goal than a possibilty. I don't think I'm alone.

    Trying to understand ourselves, let alone other people, is one of our highest callings, partly because of the challenges you outline. To me, it has the potential to be more rewarding than cataloguing commercial successes or even broad social themes.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  20. The Thin Man

    The Thin Man Well-Known Member

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    That's cool. I just didn't like seeing brands discussed in primarily commercial or sociological terms. I didn't see much about beauty, which to me = great.
     

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