Back in the early ’00s, when it was ‘cool’ to document reissued athletic footwear and the plethora of lurid apparel, including referential screenprinted shirts, beyond the core of fine English-language sites, Being Hunted being a primary example, an explosion of bad imitators sprang up. An inevitability. Then, circa 2007, the whole damn thing imploded in a mess of all-over logoed cotton fleece and excess zipper fabric. This was a good thing, as something most certainly needed to give.
In 2009, things are pleasantly aimless, but those nomadic bloggers need something else to cover – and that’s led to a strange mix of Vuitton, Eames, Watanabe, Alden, Kimmel, Swooshes, Italian bikes, Carhartt, shoddy ‘street art’ and even the onetime sanctuary of Far Eastern repro brands like Real McCoy (hopefully Cushman will be left alone) opened up to a newer section of the blogsphere. Noone can actually gauge the current zeitgeist, but as per usual, it looks like bunch of people feigning ‘over it’ and not giving a fuck when secretly, they really, really do. So it’s exactly as it was before then, but a great deal more scattershot (or should that be scattershit?).
In short, while everyone evolved to believe they’d become more discerning in the quicker than dog years timespan that blog years entail, brands got greedy and shot themselves in their patent leather clad foot, and a breed of fanboy was raised who, for the most part, learnt their cultural history from right-click copied, bitesized chunks of self-aggrandising claptrap, that, more often than not, was posted by the faintly clueless looking to earn their ‘street culture’ stripes via some misfired guesses, or in the rare cases of right, plagiarism. God, I love streetwear blogs.
But streetwear blogs are being outnumbered by their successor – the ‘men’s fashion blog. There’s always been real fashion blogs, but now everyone’s keen to reinforce that they never bought De La Dunks or blind-bought Supreme, to overcompensate for these faux pas, now they’re keen to tell the world how sartorially clued-up they are, by banging on about APC, Folk, Albam and Opening Ceremony. Good gear, and safe bets. Beyond the pleather safety blanket of sneaker superiority, gaps in knowledge become ever more glaring. Even though they only discovered Supreme in 2000 they’re over it and are keen to broadcast this opinion to the lesser mortals still queuing. There’s always those purchasing cultural credentials with PayPal, like becoming a Nike expert since the brand’s heyday by scooping up Waffle Trainer SCs for an eBay premium.
The same old range preview extracts means a tiresome e-homogenisation.There’s a fair amount of deifying the obvious – anyone wearing anything faintly collegiate between the 50s-80s? Amazing! The cast of ‘The Deer Hunter’ in workwear? No shit, Sherlock! But conversely, a lack of cultural context renders a lot of it moot…e-fluff, that’s no less substantial or credible than the years of undiscerning all-over print hoody coverage. Is most of it even fashion? Isn’t it just reliable clothing that’s safe and wearable, with a certain history that ensures longevity – just decent clobber surely? Too many everymen behind the scenes trying to project a fashionista in pixels. It’s what happens when hetrosexuals are let loose on the lookbooks. There’s good gear being covered, but it can fade to beige, and many sites just look like this…
How much mileage is there in layering shell jackets, chambray, chinos and workboots or brogues? Too many blogs lack any element of risk, yet get too flowery, and falls short of the no-nonsense traditionalism, simplicity and projected perfection of Savile Row. Going from vulcanised shoes to haplessly trying to carry shades of Vogue is an odd transition. Growing up in public electronically. It’s just the same old male mentality of oneupmanship and hoarding projected from glorified romper suits to jackets that fit and rolled-up cords. Too many self-proclaimed experts are making me want to go head-to-toe in Rogue Status and Bapestas. I want my influencers to walk it like they type it and stay ahead of the curve. Is that too much to ask?
If this reads like ‘player’ hating, that’s not the intent. I loathe the same slash and burn, quadruple label it rinse it, then move on mentality that left the sports footwear so barren (with the complicity of brands footing the blame too) that’s somehow given a design classic like the 6″ Redwing workboot a certain ‘over it’ stigma from certain clueless sections of the industry. I’m sad that companies with integrity and a certain sense of fallback no-frills cool like Dickies and Pendleton Mills are part of the workwear boom, acting like the plain girl that blossoms, gets noticed, and gives it up to any suitor that acts interested.
And while Japanese interest in British footwear is something to celebrate, helping keep many a brand afloat during tough times, (Sophnet for instance, got it very right), the current proliferation of Tricker’s double-labels seems at odds with the very purpose of the product. Cross-brand pollution leads to the burnout of ubiquity before the spotlight falls on the next ‘lucky’ company.
That offbeat Wallabee colour should be discovered, not generated and tactically disseminated with the blogs in mind. Anyhow, the naivety of so many men’s ‘fashion’ bloggers will keep me buying print magazines for all their flaws, for the forseeable future when it comes to ascertaining what comes next. I’ll still be checking Jason Jules’s Garmsville, Jon Patrick’s Selvedge Yard and Dom Stansfield’s site, as there’s no subsitute for experience, and saluting Steve and Nigel’s much-imitated Oi Polloi buying policy, free as it appears to be, from the tinpot ‘expertise’ of blog interference.