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FlyingMonkey

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Folks, I'm bored.

Not by COVID-19 (although that too, right?). But by the lack of intelligent innovation, the lack of challenge in contemporary menswear.

First, there's a kind of blanding going on. You'd have through the demise of J-Crew would have been a victory over blandness, but what it really showed was that J-Crew is unnecessary because everyone else is J-Crew now. Every other venture capital funded clothing company is doing "well thought-out basics" (AKA boring clothes for boring people). We are saturated with beige overcoats, slim-cut jeans, organic cotton hoodies etc. etc.

Even urban brands have 'grown up' and even grown bloated and lazy. Supreme could put its logo on an actual turd and you would find it reselling on Grailed within 30 minutes for stupid money. They've even killed Yohji Yamamoto. ALD is beige streetwear. Take the clothes off the celebrity models and it's nothing special.

'Heritage' workwear and militaria are ubiquitous, whether you're in the USA, UK, Japan, wherever... the only real difference being that enterprising Japanese companies seem to have persuaded us that their particular washed and patched denim is worth 5 times anyone else's... and their old shit is much better than old shit from any other country.

But it's not much better over in the 'artisinal' world where you can still have any twisted, rubber-coated, asymetric object you want to wear - as long as it's black (or possibly grey). The same companies have been turning variations on the same thing for years and the new companies on the scene merely seem to be doing more of the same at a different price point. And yet this is still refered to as 'avant garde' by some people.

Of course, there are still Parisian companies selling us eye-wateringly expensive tight jeans, boots and leather jackets so we can look like the Velvet Underground - who wore the cheapest thrift store clothes they could find. The names of the exact company or 'designer' shifts occasionally but let's face it, it hardly makes any difference.

Finally, we have the kitsch end of things, the Vetements, Balenciagas and the Bodes (and a lot more of what Kapital sells than its fans will admit to). Chop things up, steal (but only the worst things, natch), mix the cheap and gaudy with the expensive and gaudy. Gleefully smirk at the horror show you've produced - bonus points if you make your catwalk models wear impossible shoes or through a bit of spice into your lookbook - could be gender fluidity, could be racism, doesn't matter because its all ironic and nothing means anything any more, right?

So, what's my point? What is this thread for?

Well, innovation happens in all these areas (I don't really think everything is terrible... honest!), but we don't necessarily get to hear about it unless we're deeply involved in a particular style or subculture or follow particular threads on this forum. I want this thread to be about sharing and discussing genuine attempts to do things differently across the board. It could be:

1. Different underlying philosophies;
2. Different materials;
3. Different approaches to design (colour, cut, textures etc.);
4. Different methods of production;
5. Different approaches to sales and marketing;
& etc.

It doesn't necessarily have to mean that you (or anyone else) has to like the clothes. You can't please all the people all the time. But I want to be challenged. I want there to be enjoyable disagreement. I want to be persuaded that I'm entirely wrong about the lack of innovation. And I want pictures!

(please)
 
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imatlas

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How ‘bout mycelium based textiles?

 

VinceCompost

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I like these kinds of threads, They tend to bring out both the best and worst in people. Either way, that usually makes for an interesting/entertaining conversation.

I've previously posted similar questions in other - non fashion-related - topic areas, on other forums. The results have always been interesting. But rarely has anyone offered anything I found especially innovative. I think that the results will probably turn out to be similar here.

But the reason for this likely has more to do with you as an individual than it is due to an actual dearth of creative innovation at this particular moment in history.

What I mean by this is that you, like me, are getting old. And once you've been around for a little while, and know a thing or two, the chances that you'll ever feel the same rush of excitement at discovering something "new" become slimmer with every year that passes.

When you were 15, it all seemed so damned exciting. Not because there was genuinely a greater degree of inovation going on then, but simply because you knew jack shit. Everything seemed so fresh; even if it was just dug up from 20 years earlier. Now you know where most things were inspired/copied/stolen from, there's no chance of getting that same high again. It's all been done before; and now you know exactly where and by whom.

Don't get me wrong, there's undoubtedly innovation going on. Even now - there always is. But aside from extremely rare occasions, innovation is generally not a sonic boom, but an incremental crawl. So slow that you barely notice it.

Like aging along with friends; you look the same to each other as 10 years earlier. But if one of the group left for 10 years, and then came back, they'd see you with quite different eyes.

Like watching paint dry, we're too close to the moment in time to notice the advances taking place.
 
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VinceCompost

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I want to be challenged.
I've used this exact same phrase in the past too. I want to be offended even. To see something that totally upsets my concept of what fashion (or whatever the topic under discussion may be) is. To be like "that's not fashion!"

The best I can offer on this count is 3D/virtual fashion. Clothes for avatars and the like. Things like you'll find at www.thefabricant.com/ No, it doesn't particularly excite me either, but that's the new frontier - apparently.

Sadly though, I think that if you're asking this question, all hope is lost. Naivety cannot be reclaimed.
 

FlyingMonkey

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How ‘bout mycelium based textiles?

I'd actually come across some of this when we were looking at insulation for our house, but unfortunately the materials weren't an commercial stage yet. I think it's fascinating and potentially truly revolutionary across a range of areas from home building to clothes.
 

imatlas

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I'd actually come across some of this when we were looking at insulation for our house, but unfortunately the materials weren't an commercial stage yet. I think it's fascinating and potentially truly revolutionary across a range of areas from home building to clothes.
And boats!

 

cb200

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A few things that I've been paying attention to as far as innovation and newness.

Lot 2046 was/is an interesting variation of the subscription based clothing bundle. It seems to have pivoted to a much more abstract concept now than clothes a month. Part that interested me was that they had Twitch life stream hangouts early on and now do Youtube live stream almost daily. I'm not sure what the brand is now. That's lack of easy intelligibility is kind of interesting that the community seems to continue even if the initial concept is diluted or changing. Lots of lip service is given to brands building community so this is interesting even if it's a small group.


Sunglass and running gear brand, District Vision, branding wise has tapped into a weird California mindfulness vein. This ties into allot of cultural changes around health and masculinity as well as ties into a bit of a countercultural hippie weirdness past. I'm watching them find a balance with commercial messages and weirdness. Apparel adjacent in this "space" is ex Inventory magazine editor in chief Ryan Willms. Who left the apparel world to focus on more health adjacent things. I find this area interesting because it's so open to outside ideas that seem to be off limits to mainstream brands but touched on.


032C magazine releasing clothing along side a magazine. Interesting to see a media brand pushing out clothing. Every brand has to be a media publisher now. This flips things a bit. In line with this is the editorial push from retailer SSense.


Design wise the previsualization that's just on the edge of become more mainstream is interesting. I know brands are trying to do as much as they can digitally. I don't think we're quite there yet as far as the democratization of tools, but there's interesting things almost happening. Maybe the work from home Covid production pipeline will accelerate this.


Construction wise. Still think Iris Van Helpen use of lasers is very cool.
 

happyriverz

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i think the problem can be summed up very simply by saying that menswear is just really boring compared to what is happening in womenswear.
 

faue

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@cb200 i was going to mention Iris Van Herpen as well. While her output is better described as “wearable art” than fashion, it certainly fits the bill as innovative and challenging.
 

happyriverz

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Agreed, but I don't think we should leave it there.
I agree, and the statement itself requires much more elaboration than my one sentence, somewhat flippant claim.

There is just much less room in menswear to treat clothing as anything but objects -- mens' clothing is almost always discussed in terms of its tangible and/or physical qualities, e.g., fit, fabric, provenance, details, etc., and even when the discussion moves beyond the physical and the tangible and into what the clothing means, that discussion often times delves into rule- or norm-based discussions about what/when is the appropriate time/place/occasion to something, or what wearing something signals to to the public (i.e., is this too formal/not formal enough for work/interview/wedding; am I going to look weird to other people; and so on and so forth).

There is very little room to discuss mens' clothing purely on aesthetic or intellectual terms, like one would discuss a movie, a painting, a piece of music, etc.

On the other hand, it's much easier to have that kind of discussion for womenswear -- for example, just look at the most recent Nor Kei Ninomiya show -- there is almost no other way to discuss this but on aesthetic terms.



Obviously I'm just picking an extreme example to make this claim, and of course fashion is a business after all, so you cannot take commercial considerations out completely, but so much of menswear just seems to boil down to:
1) what is the current trend: e.g., is it graphic heavy or minimalist? Wide fits or slim fits? Sporty or tailored?
2) what "genre" does this belong to, e.g., military, sport, retro, rock-n-roll, formal, sub-culture X to be named?
 

VinceCompost

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i was going to mention Iris Van Herpen as well [...] her output is better described as “wearable art” than fashion
Looks like fashion to me. Where do you draw the line between the two? Art largely ceased to be decorative after Duchamp. Fashion, on the other hand, frequently has little else going for it.

@cb200 it certainly fits the bill as innovative and challenging.
Innovative in its use of technology to create something that wasn't (easily) achievable before, agreed. But personally I don't find it remotely challenging. Fresh, interesting, or simply good; yes. But not challenging.

Send these clothes back 100 years in time, and people might be awed by the technique, but I don't think they'd have any trouble recognizing them as clothes/fashion. In fact, in many ways they closely adhere to the couture tradition. Charles Worth would likely be a fan.
 

gardenvariety

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How ‘bout mycelium based textiles?

 

FlyingMonkey

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Of course, many of the running shoes companies have been thinking about sustainable / biodegradeable materials, something we were talking about over in the running thread.

Actually, Allbirds, who are despised here for being terminally boring and unstylish, have been a pioneer here, and they actually produced a proper running shoe in this area before any of the supposedly more cutting edge companies. Allbirds' material are actually really interesting and I think destined to become standard for sneaker / casual show manufacture, basically wool, eucalyptus fiber (lyocel), sugarcane and castor bean oil, along with some recycled plastic and cardboard. This is all great, but, yes, I also wish they produced some shoes with some actual design values too.

Other companies who are going down this route include Reebok, whose forthcoming Floatride Energy GROW shoe uses the same materials as Allbirds but also algae for the footbed and more natural rubber on the outsole. They are also planning to eliminate polyester entirely from all their shoes by 2024.

Salomon has produced a prototype of a fully recyclable shoe, but it's still mostly polyester and I'm sceptical of claims about recycling given that there is almost no large scale plastics recycling in practice. Salomon, however, say that the shoes will be recycled by the company itself for use in other products like ski boots.
 

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