1. And... we're back. You'll notice that all of your images are back as well, as are our beloved emoticons, including the infamous :foo: We have also worked with our server folks and developers to fix the issues that were slowing down the site.

    There is still work to be done - the images in existing sigs are not yet linked, for example, and we are working on a way to get the images to load faster - which will improve the performance of the site, especially on the pages with a ton of images, and we will continue to work diligently on that and keep you updated.

    Cheers,

    Fok on behalf of the entire Styleforum team
    Dismiss Notice

What are the greatest menswear brands of all time?

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

  1. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

    Messages:
    33,419
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2002
    Location:
    Moscow, Idaho
    

    The difficulty with that type of analysis is that there can be no agreement on what is "positive" and what is "negative", because, although some try, there is neither virtue nor vice in how we dress, (though some religions might beg to differ, and even in that case, they have very little to say on the subject of men's clothing, except that some materials should not be worn with some others, and some materials, not at all.)
     
  2. in stitches

    in stitches Senior member Moderator

    Messages:
    68,895
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2010
    Location:
    Charm City
    

    they said it better, but that is pretty much what i was trying to say. we can argue all day and night about who makes the "nicest" tie or suit, and we will get no where. but like it or not, when we decide what to wear, and what we want to look like, those images are shaped by the most successful brands, and the ideas they put forth.

    i dont mean that in a scary conspiracy theory kind of way. as if RL and his cohorts sat in a wooded cabin with cigars and scotch, and plotted how with their genius marketing and branding, they could get the world to dress a certain way and make money off of it, like some kind of pinky and the brain cartoon. rather, they had a vision for certain looks and lifestyles that they wanted to present to people, and for whatever reason, people related to it. many have tried, few have succeeded. that success and failure is measurable.

    we can look at how we dress, and say, that right there, that drape, that lifestyle personification, that color palate, that "look," it came from this guy and that guy, and a little bit that guy. all these other designers, yeah, they exist because A, B and C, did X, Y and Z. that is is all measurable to a far greater degree than aesthetics ever will be. is that a good thing? maybe yes, maybe no, but it is the way it is in my opinion, and i am fine with it.

    and to me, this list is all about recognizing, identifying and bringing that out, and who those people and/or brands are.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  3. hendrix

    hendrix Senior member

    Messages:
    9,452
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2009
    That's your best post stitches.
     
  4. The Thin Man

    The Thin Man Senior member

    Messages:
    553
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2009

    And the same could be said of movies, music, paintings, so no discussion, no judgment? People disagree, end of conversation? Citizen Kane, Ernest Goes to Camp, they're both products of culture, and they both produced more culture?

    So you own a clothing forum devoted to discussion of men's clothing, but there's no way to talk about what people prefer? Because people, you know, wear clothes, so therefore, all clothing is equally good. If we all adopt the slanket, well, that was just another one of those things that happened?

    My sense is that one reason talk so much about preferences in discussing endeavors with a creative aspect is that there's only so many hours in a day or lifetime, and it's a bigger waste of time and less engaging to just state the obvious (influential stuff is influential) than to really try to get at the heart of why we like what we like.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  5. in stitches

    in stitches Senior member Moderator

    Messages:
    68,895
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2010
    Location:
    Charm City
    

    awe shucks! :embar: thanks, man.
     
  6. in stitches

    in stitches Senior member Moderator

    Messages:
    68,895
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2010
    Location:
    Charm City
    

    since you seem very devoted to this cause, i recommend that you make a list of the brands that you feel, fit your bill. and start a thread and discussion on it. it would be interesting to see where it goes.

    as to what people prefer, i think that SF group think is well established at this point. the general aesthetic that this community prefers is quite clear for the most part. however, we are a very small fraction of the men of the world who wear menswear.
     
  7. The Thin Man

    The Thin Man Senior member

    Messages:
    553
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2009
    
    Sorry if I was getting a little overheated. I was hoping to get people to think a little more critically about this, but it may just be coming across as annoying, so I will butt out.
     
  8. in stitches

    in stitches Senior member Moderator

    Messages:
    68,895
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2010
    Location:
    Charm City
    

    oh no, no need to apologize. you should be passionate about how you feel. and have been very respectful, not annoying. no need to butt out. i still think you should start a thread about your topic.
     
  9. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

    Messages:
    33,419
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2002
    Location:
    Moscow, Idaho
    

    I thought that Citizen Kane was sorta boring, and I laughed at Ernest goes to camp for about 5 minutes before I had to turn it off, but that's neither here nor there.

    I think that it is very interesting to discuss the creative aspect of clothing. That's essentially what we did here re. Ferre, for example.

    I think that the issue here is that you are conflating "creative aspect" with "why we like what we like." Why we like what we like is, to the first order, a combination of our shared cultural history, our relationship to society and different societal values. For example, in the developing world, where labor is cheap and mechanization is expensive, manufactured goods are highly prized. As a modern society develops, labor becomes expensive, and mechanization relatively economical, and handmade goods become more desirable. This is pretty well documented.

    I think that in order to discuss the creative aspect of clothing, we have to get people out of the prescriptive mindset, e.g. a suit has to have a skirt that covers your bottom, or else you look like a lady, lol. X,Y,Z factors flatter a man's physique., etc... And I think that that's easier said than done. But we can try.
     
  10. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Senior member

    Messages:
    7,583
    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    ^ We both know that's never going to happen, at least not widely, which is why women's fashions will always be more interesting and inspiring than men's.

    Regardless, I think what TTM was suggesting was that we (or someone) take an analytical approach to the aesthetics of classic brands. My only comment is that the website Jesse and I are writing for are allocating us something like 100 words per brand, and I assume the use of just one photo. This is actually supposed to be a fun, slightly arbitrary, light read. I've probably taken much more seriously than necessary, if only because I'm genuinely interested in the subject. But I don't know if we have the space to do a critical review of some brand's aesthetics.

    But there's nothing to stop us from doing something similar here. By us I don't mean me, but someone. Instead of "In Praise of Navy" (which is all well and good), someone should start a thread called "In Praise of Sulka" or "In Praise of Arnys" or in praise of whatever brand might strike someone's fancy. Something beyond a photo gallery would be nice too - perhaps a show of the brand's evolution, a discussion of the designers behind the company, or maybe an explanation of what went into each piece (perhaps something in the spirit of The Cutting Class). That would be great.

    I'm not one to believe that we can't judge the creative arts. I think there are better and worse things in literature, music, painting, and dance. Though, I wouldn't stake my life on that belief. If pushed, I'd agree with Fok that a lot of this depends on shared cultural norms, etc. But I think arguments can be made (if not terribly strong ones).

    Anyway, someone should start such a thread already. Pick some brand you really know well and share it with the rest of us. I can take T&C Surf. :slayer:
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  11. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Senior member

    Messages:
    7,583
    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    

    Are you suggesting that Manton is just another Republican killing the arts?
     
  12. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,355
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I've been in and out of paying attention to this thread, so forgive me if I'm repeating material that's already been covered, but the clothes-as-art idea is interesting to me. I enjoy the "creative aspect of clothing" and don't have a problem with viewing the creation of beautiful clothing and the collection of different items into an outfit as an art form.

    But at the same time, there are really none of these "creative" major deviations from classic menswear that I find attractive. This looks ridiculous to me:


    as do men in jackets that barely go past their belt.

    But my artistic tastes in general are very classical. Free form poetry I don't like. Not much interest in abstract art, aside from a few Rothkos. I do like some combo jazz, but nothing too out there. No Sun Ra free jazz.

    So my point is, you don't have to accept men in skirts to think of clothing as a creative and artistic enterprise.
     
  13. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Senior member

    Messages:
    7,583
    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    By look ridiculous, do you mean you don't approve of men actually wearing that? At least for me, I find that designer clothes are much more appreciable once you break out of the mindset of whether or not you'd wear something yourself, or approve of the every day man on the street wearing it. Those seem to be separate questions from whether something is particularly creative, interesting, or adds to the conversation of design.

    To take an example, there's plenty of art in the world that I appreciate, but would not hang on my own walls (or think they should be hung on my friend's walls). But that doesn't make them less interesting when I see them.

    I actually find most men's designer fashion fairly boring, and I think it's because everyone's trying to be too commercial - essentially catering to men's constant nagging question "is that something I'd wear or approve of others wearing." Some of the better women's clothing designers ignore that question all together, and as a result, come up with brilliant concepts. Perhaps their stuff does spill into the street, but when it does, it becomes an interesting social issue, beyond just design.

    Addendum: Some examples. Wouldn't it be a shame if people looked at McQueen's work and just asked "yea, but who would wear that?"

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  14. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    14,790
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2006
    Location:
    Monaco
    

    This. While I think I get "the thin man's" overall point (critical thinking about subjective taste), ultimately I think it's impossible and will break down into exactly that kind of prescriptive mindset. In addition to what you write above, another reason is that it isn't possible to articulate WHY we like what we like, exactly, because we have neither complete information about it and also because we're influenced by so many factors automatically, over which we have no control. Thin man's argument seems dependent upon a kind of rationality and reflection about our own tastes that, ultimately, isn't possible, given various unconscious influences like priming, framing, bias, etc. (all those things that the behavioral economists have helped to show cloud all those perfectly rational agents!)

    So, in the end, the discussion will largely devolve away from actual clothing and down to the social norms of the prescriptive type you outline above. If it is done "right," it will basically devolve down to "I like it because I like it and alternatives from that are ridiculous because they're stupid," or a rationally untenable argument.

    People won't/can't think critically about their subjective tastes, because they aren't really in control of them. While on the one hand a man can say he likes RL because he likes "classic tailored menswear that is well manufactured," in truth (and given various behavioral experiments or brain scans) we might actually be able to make a more convincing case that latent sexual attraction to a coworker who happened to wear RL on Tuesdays caused the attraction to the brand. Likewise, it might be because his neighbor had a polo pony when he grew up. In short, the line between some sort of "aesthetic judgment" and a purely affective one is quite thin, and both can work together, "I like well tailored menswear because RL uses a polo pony that my neighbor had when i was young."

    This is exactly why criteria drawing those lines for the discussants is imperative, IMHO. We CAN discuss a "creative aspect" according to some basic set of criteria, assuming requisite background knowledge, which is what we've tried to do (though may be difficult given that most on this site are "consumer" oriented and not critically oriented). Overall, perhaps having had a more set criteria from the start, as defined by the OP, would have helped him for the purposes of his article, though the organic way in which the discussion has developed has been interesting from an overall reading/writing/forum perspective.


    Interestingly and unexpectedly, this sort of illustrates my (and, I think, Fok's) point. Without some basic lines being drawn or a willingness to suspend our own "consumer" perspective as a potential clothing buyer, the final decision will be whatever an individual personally finds "ridiculous," even accounting for what they feel is "art" or "creativity."
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  15. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,355
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I agree it is a separate question, but in addition to not wanting to wear the Gaultier outfit, I also just don't think it's aesthetically pleasing. But I do much prefer it to the bastardization of traditional garments, like the too-short jackets.

    There is some art that I appreciate aesthetically while not wanting it in my home - especially a lot of the more intense Christian art, as I'm not a religious person. But most of the art I like, I can envision it in some setting that's not a museum.

    Maybe this aversion to completely new concepts in menswear is what forces designers to tinker with the suit in marginal ways that result in it looking much worse, such as the bum-freezer jacket. Also, the earlier poster who suggested the military as a major innovator in menswear was onto something. When men are forced to wear something, and then make war in it, it goes along way to ushering the garment into acceptability.
     
  16. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,355
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    ^to rach's interesting post above, I think that "it looks good to me because it looks good to me" is an entirely valid justification for one's preferences over art or clothing or whatever. If this idea interests you, it's possible you will enjoy this thread:

    http://www.styleforum.net/t/306673/on-the-utility-of-rules-for-dress-and-fit

    I think hoping for rational arguments on clothing is something of a fool's errand. We can look for patterns in things that we like to try and produce more things that we like. But we take as fundamental our preferences, not these rules. An example is the color wheel. We have learned, or some think we have learned, that some pattern of colors from this wheel work well together, no matter how the wheel be rotated. This is a theory, which then must be tested by our preferences over these different color combinations. If we find a combination of colors that "should" work, based on the theory, but that we don't like, it is the theory that is wrong, not our preferences.
     
  17. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    14,790
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2006
    Location:
    Monaco
    

    It's certainly valid, but my main point has been to illustrate that much of the discussion on this thread is between two largely incompatible categories of poster, each using the same set of terms to different effect (and, if we took the time, different operational definitions). The categories I drew were just for convenience, but I called them a (1) consumer mindset and (2) critical mindset. These two aren't, and won't, see eye to eye... but I think that almost every post on this thread can be put into one of these two categories, also accounting for much of the disagreement.

    In (1), exactly what you said is the main point. The view is of fashion from the perspective of the consumer of that fashion, in the sense of putting one's own self in relation to the garment. How would it look on me, would I wear that, is it worth my time and/or money, does it look "ridiculous" (compared to what I wear or generally see worn in my social set), etc.

    In (2), however, a different set of criteria and ideas are employed. It is viewed as a critic of fashion, in the sense of putting the garment in relation to a larger history and body of fashion, society, history, etc. How did that garment come about, what trends before it allowed it to "make sense" in a certain framework, what is it doing differently, and are those differences simply gimmicks or actual tweaks on our "ideas" about what a man can wear?

    For the purposes of this thread, obviously there can be both, but for a "greatest" list to make sense as an article or blogposting for general readership from which one can learn information, I think (2) is more important and necessary than (1). Indeed, (1) is basically what much of styleforum is about, and while it can be useful in telling me about certain brands, it hardly lends itself to a discussion of superlatives like "greatest" that can be informative beyond just knowing that "member Ernest thinks that brown is for farmer" and such. ;)

    As well, as I said above, given that SF isn't an "industry" site of insiders, very few posters have the requisite background knowledge to do (2) effectively. As I said earlier, how many posters have ever been inside an actual Ferre or gaultier boutique, or have followed a runway season enough to comment on that "history?" Probably few, but almost all have their consumer tastes for fashion well set. It is, therefore, not surprising that many on SF come from the consumer standpoint.

    That's perfectly fine, of course, but it makes for a discussion like the OP requested rather difficult. It also doesn't mean that a man's skirt, or a certain type of leather bag, or a fragrance marketed for a woman, is actually ridiculous for a man in any way... though often (perfectly validly) they are called as such by a certain body of consumers on SF.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  18. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,355
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    

    Is it fair to think of this as creating garments that then become a part of 1)? Creating something that wasn't already a member of the set of things a man can wear in public and putting it in that set? Or is that reducing it too far? Is a garment that "does something differently" a gimmick if and only if it does not enter into broader acceptance?
     
  19. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,355
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I guess it may be worth relating back to other arts too - to me, good music is music that you actually want to listen to, that is expressive, and that you connect with on some level. Performances that exhibit a great deal of technical skill aren't in and of themselves great art to me. Likewise "innovations" aren't really valuable to me unless they further the main goal of music, which is as I described good music above.
     
  20. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    14,790
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2006
    Location:
    Monaco
    

    It's not reducing it too far; I think definitely this is in line with what I'm thinking and have been outlining on this thread... that much of what makes gaultier or Ferre worthy of inclusion on this list is because of how their garments pushed (1) to include their particular vision.

    No, I think it's more complicated/subtle than that. Overall, though, the difference between a "gimmick" and a "creative innovation" is a tougher nut to crack. Gaultier skirts, Yohji's black oversized jackets, etc. are "creative innovations" to me, while Thom Browne's runway shows are full of gimmicks.

    I think a gimmick is when the item in question's underlying purpose, which may not be overt or intentional on the part of the designer, was NOT to enter into (1), but instead simply to get attention, press, to "push the envelope" to drum up sales, or some other element EXTERNAL to the garment itself. There are a number of ways to test this, in absence of the designer himself/herself saying, "oh yeah, the point of this is just to get some attention." After all, even this purpose sometimes results in an innovation, while likewise sometimes an artist saying, "This is art!" ends up just being a corny gimmick.

    On the other hand, IMHO, it's an innovation when the purpose of the item, regardless of how shocking it appears at the time, is to express a particular, consistent, and unique vision of the designer.

    Thom Browne's runway shows are to drum up press for his small suits. He doesn't expect anybody to go and buy the ridiculous crap he puts on a runway; it's to get attention because otherwise putting out the same small suits in various colors each year causes the press to forget. Yohji, though, doesn't send a black frumpy suit and a stained necktie in order to "shock" you into putting his stuff on the nightly news... he does it because that's how he sees the world, and wants you to see it that way as well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
    2 people like this.

Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by