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The Rise of Style Forum-born Entrepreneurs and their Impact on Style

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by F. Corbera, Dec 22, 2010.

  1. BlueHorseShoe

    BlueHorseShoe Senior member

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    ...What bothers me is that we take a serious look at a specific clothing tradition, something that requires skill and appreciation, and we give this to everyone who more than likely will not understand, the fat guy in the suit too small and sleeves too long, and it would be a mockery to what we do here. What is the use of clothing comformity if the current "normal" are pants too big, underwear showing, and shirts large enough to fit the morbidly obeses? Doesn't look good for us.

    I don't understand what you are saying here. Please forgive the ignorance, but this is lost on me.
     
  2. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    How is Vox?

    First thought was "what a dopey response" but now I think "brilliant". [​IMG]
     
  3. uNiCoRnPriNcEsSx

    uNiCoRnPriNcEsSx Senior member

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    Of course the greater availability of clothes online are going to affect my tastes, simply because it offers me the option to get something that I normally wouldn’t have, at either a lower price, or because they don’t carry it locally. I would assume the average member does their research online to see what is out there, rather than limiting themselves to what brands are currently being carried in department stores either due to dissatisfaction of cut, fabric or material. I generally use Style Forum, hypebeast, and superfuture to see what the best in each industry currently has to offer, and fit pictures to get a general idea of how they would look on me. Take for example, Self Edge, in terms of premium denim. They collaborate with manufacturers to come out with unique cuts that are aimed directly at their target market, the online, fashion saavy consumer. From my viewpoint, their value add lies in the fact that they offer products that are of premium material, in unique cuts found nowhere else, and an above level of customer service. People looking to upgrade from brands like Seven, True Religion, and Diesel are going to take a look at these (after reading fit descriptions and pictures from other forum members) and kaboom, all of a sudden their jeans choices have just broader. Temple of Jawnz, value add in that they are offering a MTM leather jacket that gives you the option of customizing body length, size, and sleeve length. Not only that, but he’s using good leather. He’s barely making any profit, as this is/was a learning experience for him to get exposed to the industry. The current iteration of his DR looks like a Lewis Leathers Lightning. The Lewis Leathers retails for well over a grand. How much is Drew charging us? Almost half off that price at $700. You’d be retarded not to go with ToJ, unless you’ve got $20-25 million in your accounts and couldn’t care less how much it costs. But then again, you wouldn’t be on Style Forum reading about fashion cuz you’d be off in the Mediterranean somewhere boning Eastern European models on your yacht. And you say conformity like it’s a bad thing. Yes, it’s bad to limit yourself to other options because you’ve fully assimilated into SF groupthink, but there are standards for a reason. There are general guidelines you have to follow to look good, but it’s crossing the line when those guidelines become rules. Rules are absolutes, and absolutes are rarely true 100% of the time. And most men dress far worse because of multiple reasons. It could be they never got a chance to learn how things are supposed to fit (i.e. the people around them dress badly), they can’t afford to buy nice fitting items, or other reasons.
     
  4. Kent Wang

    Kent Wang Senior member Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    Leathersoul is another business that is debatable as to whether it's an "SF" business or not, but one that I think hits the mark really well. Really good balance between classic style and worksmanship with some modern updates. They do a great job, and I find it hard to believe that they could thrive to the same degree as a b&m store in Honolulu that they do with the online business.
    Tom has a store in Beverly Hills now, and I've heard that the Honolulu store sells a great deal to Japanese customers who are otherwise used to paying much prices in Japan -- not sure why prices are higher there, maybe tariffs or the higher rent. Physical stores like this, and The Armoury, to me are especially inspiring and as they are the best channels for spreading our taste level to the masses, which can only be a good thing.
     
  5. Doxe

    Doxe Senior member

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    The main attraction to me of the vendors you've described (particularly HY, Sam Hober, KW and Panta) is that they offer classic basics that I cannot find elsewhere.

    Grey flannel pants, solid grenadine ties and solid knit ties. These are what are on my acquisition list for 2011. Yet no bricks and mortar retailer offers these basics. Why?

    I recently received 30 or so grenadine swatches from Sam Hober. When my wife saw me greedily arranging the colours she rolled her eyes and said, "You already have enough ties!". "But I have only eight solids", I replied. "The rest are patterned, you can't buy these in the stores".

    The SF entrepreneurs are the only retailers that sell basic, foundational pieces.

    Once Panta goes online I will likely source my odd trousers from Ed. I do not forsee myself buying ties from anyone other than Sam Hober, Kent Wang or Howard Yount.

    While the products offered by these retailers are informed by the interweb, when you realy distill what is being offered, it is well-made, reasonably priced basics that cannot be found elsewhere.
     
  6. in stitches

    in stitches Senior member Moderator

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    i dont think it affects my style per se, but the sheer convenience of buying online, items like shoes ties and other accesories that are purchased in higher quantity and more frequently than a suit(for me anyway), coupled with my lack of discrecionay time to shop leads me to buy from these and other online vendors, the fact that such items can be had at greatly dicounted prices also allows more to get more items than i otherwise would have (the only sf inspired vendor i have used is ehaberdasher) i find there is enough variety to purchase these items in a style that conforms with my personal taste. for suits and shirts i have gone mtm/bespoke for now.
     
  7. Master Squirrel

    Master Squirrel Senior member

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    "The Rise of Style Forum-born Entrepreneurs and their Impact on Style" is one of the foreseen outcomes of the internet.

    In days of yore we had this thing called Retail Location Theory which changed and morphed as industrial society grew. The generic suppliers infiltrated all towns. They looked to supply the general products of living -- common items we all need: toothpaste, food, pork rinds and porno mags. Next came more specialized items that were still common such as cars, hardware and clothes. Small cities might have farm implement dealers and welding suppliers. You get the picture... the more specialized the item: the larger the settlement. When it came to highly specialized items such as antique radio parts, original fine art and rare books, these items might only be found in retail shops in large cities. Many of the most specialized shops routinely sent out catalogs and newsletters to cater to this specialized crowd. (As well as attend conventions.)

    What is great about the internet is that it allows people with specialized interests to get together making it easier for them to support fledgling businesses. Such small niche markets are perfect for forums like this.

    Styleforum has some weight in small Mens Clothing shops in my city, and viral advertising is good. (As Pabst Blue Ribbon will tell you.) If a friend recommends it, you will be more likely to patronize their store. (Those phony spammers excluded.)
     
  8. Master Squirrel

    Master Squirrel Senior member

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    The main attraction to me of the vendors you've described (particularly HY, Sam Hober, KW and Panta) is that they offer classic basics that I cannot find elsewhere.
    Exactly. They know exactly what we are looking for. They don't have to "predict" or tastes.
     
  9. Kent Wang

    Kent Wang Senior member Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    If you are one of these guys, and you are willing to chat in this thread, it would be great to hear what stylistically and aesthetically (rather than from business perspective) you wanted to do when you founded your business, and where you think you would like to take things from the standpoint of the style you promote.
    A complex question, and one I won't be able answer completely. I got into the business because I just wanted to make some clothes that I want to wear that was difficult to find at affordable prices. I will admit that some products I have launched are not the most profitable, but I make them because I want them. These "pet products" include my Corgi wool socks, which is probably my lowest margin item, and maybe even the lowest price you will ever see on Corgi wool socks. But I make them because they're the colors and designs I want for myself. In a way, it's like a scheme to arrange group buys on items that I want that I can't meet the minimums on by myself. As for your primary point, that the rise of these vendors homogenizes style, I would say that the effect is negligible.
     
  10. Raralith

    Raralith Senior member

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    I don't understand what you are saying here. Please forgive the ignorance, but this is lost on me.

    Let's say that 10% of the population (a lot less from what I've seen) are people from here or AAAC, that understand the tradition of wearing suits and can appreciate fine clothing. What does that mean for the remaining 90%? Unfortunately, these are the MW's, JAB's, Macy's, polyester suits that don't fit well at all, but they wear it because they either have to or need to, e.g., jobs. Judging from the current trend of what a lot of people wear on the usual basis (t-shirt, jeans, flip flops, stores like ON/Gap, H&M, A&F), I would believe that if a lot more people conformed to the whole suit and tie, sport jacket and slacks, I highly doubt that they would be the 10% that truely care. All my opinions though.
     
  11. aportnoy

    aportnoy Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    First thought was "what a dopey response" but now I think "brilliant". [​IMG]

    You so get me.[​IMG]
     
  12. Troilus

    Troilus Senior member

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    +1 for the long tail assessment as to what's available for purchase through SF merchants, but I think the OP's original observation is slightly different.

    I'd say what you're witnessing is the formation of an SF "school." The formation of the SF school coincides with the settling of a group upon a single paradigm. In this case, the paradigm involves advice on certain styles, values of certain brands, etc.

    Many people come here not to break the paradigm, but to learn it. There's interest in conformity rather than trend-setting. So I'd argue the observation of narrowing taste is simply a product of increased demand of conformers and increasing interest in the SF "school."

    At the same time, I don't think this school development is bad because even trendsetters need a paradigm. It is the only way one can make an educated deviation from the norm (the same way a chef usually starts on the line at a well-established restaurant, or the way Lady Gaga started by studying at NYU's Tisch School).

    Mapping this onto my personal experience here. I'd see my SF life in two stages.

    Stage 1: Buy only what is deemed most suitable here by the majority (BB 1818 in solids, AE PAs, TM shirts, etc.)

    Stage 2: Comfortable that I know what is considered suitable by the majority, branch out with my own style (e.g. embrace the three-piece, wear loafers with suits occasionally, look for unknown artisan labels, etc.)
     
  13. UrbanComposition

    UrbanComposition Senior member

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    While I cannot account for others, my tastes vary wildly. This, in and of itself, is the driving force for my purchases. Whether it be in a thrift store or an online store, I'll buy it if I like it and can afford it.

    Regarding style, mine varies from year to year, but mostly out of boredom.

    It is true that there is a classic look that will never completely go out of style. However, even within that sphere, there are many things that can be tweaked: gorge slightly lower/higher, one button, two button, 3-roll-2, DB, etc. Add to that lapel width, pants rise, leg taper, and endless fabrics, and one has the rest of one's life to indulge in his sartorial whimsy.

    I don't like everything I see in StyleForum. But then again, I don't like everything I see in Luciano Barbera. Or Ralph Lauren. Or on the Duke of Windsor. StyleForum, like any other repository of clothing (online or otherwise), serves me as a showcase of options. Its impact on style? Negligible.

    Impact on fit is another matter entirely.
     
  14. taxgenius

    taxgenius Senior member

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    The main attraction to me of the vendors you've described (particularly HY, Sam Hober, KW and Panta) is that they offer classic basics that I cannot find elsewhere.



    Good point, and even if I could find it elsewhere, it's cheaper here.

    I needed a quality silver tie bar, so went to Howard Yount.
    I needed a quality grenadine tie, so went to Kent Wang.
    I needed saphir polish, so went to Wooden Hangers.
    I needed shoe recrafting, so went to Shoerepairman (not sure if he started as a SF member).
     
  15. Doxe

    Doxe Senior member

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    Good point, and even if I could find it elsewhere, it's cheaper here.

    I needed a quality silver tie bar, so went to Howard Yount.
    I needed a quality grenadine tie, so went to Kent Wang.
    I needed saphir polish, so went to Wooden Hangers.
    I needed shoe recrafting, so went to Shoerepairman (not sure if he started as a SF member).


    This is a good point. Sam Hober ties are half the price of what I'd pay at a retail establishment for a Canali, Zegna or Talbott tie. Yet Sam Hober has a better selection and customized service.
     
  16. mcbrown

    mcbrown Senior member

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    ...Many people come here not to break the paradigm, but to learn it. There's interest in conformity rather than trend-setting. So I'd argue the observation of narrowing taste is simply a product of increased demand of conformers and increasing interest in the SF "school."

    At the same time, I don't think this school development is bad because even trendsetters need a paradigm. It is the only way one can make an educated deviation from the norm (the same way a chef usually starts on the line at a well-established restaurant, or the way Lady Gaga started by studying at NYU's Tisch School). ...


    I am a lurker here, reluctant to get involved in discussions about which I know little (this is just my 2nd post I believe). This quote resonates with me, and probably with other lurkers, so I'd like to respond to it.

    I found my way to SF, AAAC and other resources because I suddenly developed an interest in dressing better, starting with a rather out-of-the-blue desire to buy a nice pair of shoes for my wedding. To the extent SF is pushing me towards some kind of conformity, it is because SF has shown me ways to create the appearance I was already trying to achieve; I simply lacked the knowledge to do so on my own. While I'm sure that some of the readership has arrived at a point of life transition which requires a whole new wardrobe, most of us are probably between the ages of 25 and 50, in so-called "white collar" jobs, with several/many years of dressing "professionally" under our belts. We have well-established lives, families, interests and personalities. We do not arrive here seeking to drastically alter our personal appearance. We arrived here via google search on some specific topic, and we quite accidentally find that there are answers to all of the questions we never knew we had. And we end up wearing the SF "uniform" because the entry-level "SF approved" brands provide good, time-tested solutions to our basic style needs at reasonable prices. We upgrade from Aldo to Alden and from Banana to Brooks not because it helps us look like everyone else, but because it helps us look more like ourselves.

    In Troilus' "two stages", I am certainly in stage one. I may never leave it. Most lurkers like me will probably never leave it. My style needs/desires may never expand beyond decent leather shoes, trousers made with nice fabrics that fit me well, and dress shirts that I don't swim in. Either way, as Troilus says, one must always begin with the basics - no serious musician has ever managed to skip learning scales, and no serious dresser has ever managed to skip learning not to wear white socks with dress shoes.

    So thank you SF for existing and helping men like me learn to dress the way we want to dress.
     
  17. thinman

    thinman Senior member

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    ...One thing that definitely has changed in the past five years is that several members of Style Forum have gone on to build niche businesses, some unique, that in turn are partially or nearly entirely aimed at Style Forum or other online clothing forum members. This is not an exhaustive list:
    Thick as Thieves – (Get Smart) Kent Wang – (Kent Wang) Hanger Project –( kirbya) Howard Yount – (chorse) Steven Aver – (deceased) A Suitable Wardrobe – (Will) Panta – (edmorel) The Armoury – (yfyf and toiletduck)​
    ...It seems to me that most of these ventures grew at least partially out of the online style culture, either in vendor choice if the business is a reseller or in how things actually look. In effect, they promote expanded and easier access to goods or looks introduced, discussed, and established online. By doing so, more men with online presences adopt the looks, which in turn expands a kind of conformity. ...If you are a consumer, what is your opinion of how the easier availability of these goods affects your own tastes and the opinions that you express about clothes online? Is conformity around styles promoted on the Internet an overall improvement since most men dress far worse?...

    The OP asks a complex question, wrapped in simple clothing. As a consumer, my initial response would be "these small, online, niche businesses don't influence my taste in clothing, but allow me to express it more easily." They make accessible the items I cannot find at mass market retailers, because of insufficient demand. Upon further reflection, I realize that the forum has helped establish my tastes and, to the extent the forum also influenced the thinking of these entrepreneurs, the forum helped create the market, provided creative input for the entrepreneurs, and provided a simple forum for them to do some market research...
    ... I'd say what you're witnessing is the formation of an SF "school." The formation of the SF school coincides with the settling of a group upon a single paradigm. In this case, the paradigm involves advice on certain styles, values of certain brands, etc. Many people come here not to break the paradigm, but to learn it. There's interest in conformity rather than trend-setting. So I'd argue the observation of narrowing taste is simply a product of increased demand of conformers and increasing interest in the SF "school." At the same time, I don't think this school development is bad because even trendsetters need a paradigm. It is the only way one can make an educated deviation from the norm (the same way a chef usually starts on the line at a well-established restaurant, or the way Lady Gaga started by studying at NYU's Tisch School). Mapping this onto my personal experience here. I'd see my SF life in two stages. Stage 1: Buy only what is deemed most suitable here by the majority (BB 1818 in solids, AE PAs, TM shirts, etc.) Stage 2: Comfortable that I know what is considered suitable by the majority, branch out with my own style ...
    ...So my more nuanced answer to the question is similar to that given above by Troilus. The forum has taught me what is suitable to the majority and the rules for dressing "correctly". I now feel comfortable departing from the norm, and even breaking the rules, without looking like a clown. My style tends toward conservative business casual (the forum norm), but always with a twist. More specifically, I know what constitutes good fit and I get compliments on my clothing from people who don't quite know why they like it. I think they like it because it fits well. I also get compliments because I can coordinate colors and patterns well, I know what colors suit my own coloring, and I know which patterns suit my physique. This all conforms with the forum norm(s). More importantly to me, anyone who looks closely will see that I'm almost always wearing something unique or even quirky. I like to coordinate colors and patterns in unusual ways and I sometimes experiment with coordinating 4-5 patterns, just to see if I can do it tastefully. I especially like playing with textures: mixing them, matching them, contrasting them. It's this expression of my personal taste that is now especially enjoyable to me and, to bring it back to the OP's question, the online retailers are often the only ones who can provide me with unique pieces to put the final polish on my look(s). As an example, I think Kent Wang has an amazing eye for texture and I own many of his pocket squares. He was even kind enough to sell me one from his private reserve (at a premium) when his stock ran out (thanks Kent, love that square). So I value the smaller, niche (online) retailers because they provide the unique items that I can't find anywhere else. Do the items conform to the forum norms? The individual items probably do, but they are unique in my social circle and I combine them in my own very personal, unique ways to create something more than the sum of the parts. These are the lessons I've learned through five years of reading the forum (and very occasionally contributing) and experimenting with clothing.
     
  18. teddieriley

    teddieriley Senior member

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    Wait, you smell that?
    I was about to write a reply, but realized that my lack of eloquence would result in this being a 1 hour exercise, which I don't have time for today. So I will wait until I have the luxury of retirement before I provide my thoughts on the matter. Will re-visit and post in this thread in 30 years. Hope it won't be too necro then.
     
  19. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    A complex question, and one I won't be able answer completely. I got into the business because I just wanted to make some clothes that I want to wear that was difficult to find at affordable prices. ... As for your primary point, that the rise of these vendors homogenizes style, I would say that the effect is negligible.
    Thank you for your comments, Kent.
     
  20. MBreinin

    MBreinin Senior member

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    I want a lapel pin that says, "Dressed by Styleforum."

    I freely admit that what I have seen posted here, the comments I have received for my own fits posted here, and what I have learned about from posts here have largely influenced my path.

    Sure, I came here with my own sense of style, and I retain that to some degree, but my path has been altered dramatically by this place.

    Also, I buy 95% of my clothes online. From the B&S, from vendors here, from other internet sources. I cannot find SF approved clothes, for the most part, at retail in my area, and I would likely not pay full retail for much of what I buy. Simple truth.

    If these niche vendors cater specifically to us, I am all for it. The vast majority of people in the real world do not possess the level of knowledge or interest in clothes that can be found here. In a sense, SF has created the market and the audience for these niche vendors and their products.

    Frankly, if you told me 3 years ago that I would be spending this much time, effort and expense to work on my wardrobe...to the point of taking pictures of myself on an almost daily basis for internet consumption, I would have laughed in your face.

    Mike
     

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