Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Great Paradox of Fashion

Photo: property of luciano barbera

“Lose your mind and come to your senses” –Unknown

Much of what confounds the every day fashionista is the debate being waged within the fashion community over labels; where the industry is divided between have and have not’s. Those believing the fashion community to be exclusive, tout labels in order to hyper-saturate the fashion community and media with brand names, effectively causing what I call ‘designer inbreeding’- keeping the fashion community from naturally evolving over time in response to trends and innovation by inundating the media and social forums with the pre-selected fashion aristocracy.

Let’s consider first the background of labels; what they mean and where they come from.

Historically, labels were a standard of quality, pioneered by Charles Fredrick Worth, an English tailor of the late 19th century who first began sewing his name into garments he designed. His work began the era of Haute Couture; where tailors would pre-design garments for their clients first as sketches, then if a client approved, the tailor would begin work. A couture garment is made to order for an individual customer, and is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric, sewn with extreme attention to detail and finish, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. The look and fit of each peice took priority over the cost of materials and the time it required to make.

If you were to compare the original work and craftsmanship of tailors like Charles Fredrick Worth to the mass produced, over priced, garbage that now consumes the general fashion world, I’m sure Mr. Worth would be rolling in his grave. I highly doubt that Pamela Skaist-Levy or Gela Nash-Taylor, the original founders of Juicy Couture, have handcrafted anything in your closet. In fact, I’d be hesitant to presume either knows what’s being sold within JC now. The illusion that ‘bigger labels mean better quality’ has persisted and misled the general consumer since its deviation from its origins, and the fashion community as a whole has failed to openly communicate this.

It can be argued that the general quality of designer labels is above average and falls into what’s called the ‘ready-to-wear’, where designers don’t individually design garments, but selectively pick fabrics and design cuts with quality and exclusivity in mind. This is generally true and not something I dispute. However, when it comes to labels, there are designers whose quality and costs are dramatically overrepresented, and most of these companies are a part of the fashion aristocracy I mentioned earlier. Want an example? Take this year’s newest LV bag and a Kooba purse to any leather expert and ask him which is made of higher quality leather. Not only will you find the Kooba bag to be of higher quality, but best of all, a Kooba bag will run you at max 800 bucks. Here’s another one, close your eyes and have a friend let you hold any Jcrew T-shirt in one hand and compare it against a Gucci T-shirt in the other. See if you can identify which is which or notice any discernable difference. The only difference you’ll fine is one’s 20 bucks on sale and the other is 120 bucks on sale.

It’s time the fashion world came to its senses; using them to feel and see what’s better, and not what we think SHOULD be better. Just something to consider.


A day late but not a minute short of being well deserved

I know this post is late on my part, but I want to thank all those serving in our country. Without your sacrifice, the last thing any of us would be worrying about would be what we're wearing. Thank you for keeping red, white, and blue the colors of freedom for all of us here at home. In addition, my sincere wishes for the best go out to my friend Oz, who will be deploying with the Marines to Iraq. Stay safe and Godspeed.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Revenge of the Nerds!

It's the triumphant return of nerdy-ness in a style I've affectionately dubbed,

Nerd Swagger: tipping past the brink of not giving a damn about being cool, to the point that you're hot.

As an example of this, consider Forrest Kline- the lead singer of Hellogoodbye. Here's a man who's so out, he's in, and women LOVE it. Don't believe me? Here's a sample of some of the comments he's gotten off of youtube.

Liinchen94 (5 months ago) Reply
he's such a damn hot nerd!

DaNgErOuZz08 (5 months ago) Reply
damn i love you hahaha :))

suckkapunch (5 months ago) Reply
i want to marry him one day.

angiemcn (7 months ago) Reply
So freakin nerd! So freakin hot!

Admittedly, a lot of what makes him so desireable lies more in his attitude than his wardrobe. However consider the inverse; could you picture Forrest Kline in a pair of Ecko sneakers, Sean John jeans, and a LRG shirt? I think not.

Moving past the stardom example of Forrest Kline, let's now take a closer look into what goes into pulling off that elusive nerdy look, and why it's so attractive. We'll begin with repetition of design: what patterns have shown up in the style consistently and what period(s) do they date back to?

1. Plaid:

Plaid, historically known as tartan, has a rich background and is deeply rooted in the Hallstatt culture. The checkered and striped pattern was not thought to have existed before the 16th century in Scotland and was then used to delineate between different regions and populaces of the Country. Highlanders would wear multiple tartan patterns into battle and the design was long considered Jacobian by nature. In 1822 visit of King George IV to Scotland rekindled the demand for tartan cloth and made it the national dress of the whole of Scotland rather than just the highlands and islands, with the invention of many new clan-specific tartans to suit. Of relevant note, Argyle is a form of tartan derived from Clan Campbell in western Scotland.

Plaids have literally been revolutionary clothing, a symbol of protest against the norm. Today, where conformity is thought of as passé, it's no coincidence that this style has continued to remain edgy and eye catching.

2. The short-shorts:

In the 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States and much of Europe, shorts were worn as outerwear only by young boys until they reached a certain height or maturity. As they matured, the boys would receive their first pair of long trousers. This produced the perception that shorts were only for young boys. Because of this, men avoid wearing shorts, for fear of looking immature.

Looking immature, never growing up, and never having to be a dull boring adult? Hell yea I could go for that! Short-shorts hold their own form of wildness and rebelliousness, not the Hugh Jackman kind of wildness, but attractive none the less.

3. Bow-ties:

The bow tie originated among Croatian mercenaries during the Prussian wars of the 17th century: the Croats used a scarf around the neck to hold together the opening of their shirts. This was soon adopted (under the name cravat, derived from the French for "Croat") by the upper classes in France, then a leader in fashion, and flourished in the 18th and 19th centuries.

HO HUM! Another example of battle born attire! Imagine that.

So let's recap, what we consider as 'nerdy' has either historically been battle attire for some of the most fearsome warriors history has every produced, or a manifestation of the need we all have to want to remain youthful and free from the burdens of the world maturity thrusts upon us, or visa versa.

Nerd swagger has my 100% approval as being Metro ready and I encourage you all to give it a whirl.
This is Cade London, signing out-

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wear What's Wearable

Abstract Art: A product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered.
- Albert Camus

Welcome to Metro Method, the metro man's blog dedicated to you- the fashion forward man, with the goal of looking your best for all social occasions. Today’s post is focused on the basics; the necessity of wearing what's wearable. Though it may seem common sense, fashion by its nature attempts to stray away from the norm in an ever escalating cycle of standing out, for better or for worse. Being fashionable is not necessarily about being designer savvy or trendy; it's about looking and feeling comfortable in what you're wearing and with yourself.

So let's begin with how to find what's comfortable. As men, we're blessed with our complete LACK of choice in what we wear; the gambit we run between pants, shirts, shoes, belts, and accessories is but a fraction of what women have to contend with additively. However, within our choices it's often best to go with a design that's survived as a classic through the years, a likely result of its utility and comfort. If it's not comfortable enough that you could crash on your couch in it, it's not worth your time.

Next, consider your color palette. Without getting sidetracked with an in depth discussion of color theory, here's a basic crash course. Generally speaking, the color schemes that generally work best in the fashion world are analogous color schemes or complementary color schemes. Complementary colors are any two colors which sit opposite each other on the color wheel, such as orange and blue, purple and yellow etc. Where as analogous colors 3 colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel, dark green, light green and yellow for example. This is by no means a make or break rule, as your skin tone, hair and eye color all play an indivisible part in determining what colors will add to you, rather than washes you out. The following is a limited list of common do’s and don’ts.

1. If you're a blonde with lighter eyes and skin:

DO wear bold colors that match your eyes, greens, blues, etc. black are also a nice if you want to add a pop of color with the eyes as opposed to complementing them with color.

DO NOT wear light yellow; it's inclined to wash you out.

2. If you're a brunette with darker eyes and skin

DO wear orange, it's a great bold color that works for most seasons (arguably except for winter) I also strongly recommend violet if you've a slightly lighter complexion.

DO NOT wear browns that are significantly lighter than your skin. Again, the combination will often leave you washed out.

OK so you've got your design, you've got your colors, the last thing left is to add your own personal style, that little fashion edge that makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd while not wearing an ostentatious ed hardy shirt. For me, it's something as simple as rolling up long sleeves, wearing a certain belt or loafers. For others, it might all be about putting on that hemp wristlet that you've grown so fond of. Whatever it is, it should be that little adjustment that makes you smile in the mirror and think, 'damn I look good'. Your fashion is a representation of you, who you are and what's going to make you feel you look your best. That's not to say you should not try new styles, far from it, it means you should try EVERYTHING to see what you like and how you can further customize it to you.

As a final thought for this post I leave you with an image owned and provided by 'The Sartorialist' (http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/) as an example of being comfortable, looking great, and most importantly: having fun with fashion!