Fashion designers, like every one else, have their place in the vast scheme of things, I suppose. It's no secret that in the realm of women's clothing they hold a place of great importance. Without them, what be the fun in evening gowns? But an evening gown at its best is a work of art, best conceived by an artist. While it's true that a mans garment at its best is also a work of art, we owe that to tailors more than designers. Given that the typical men's "uniform" of jacket, trousers, shirt and tie has basically changed very little over the course of more than a century, so called men's designers have a nasty habit of creating silly unwearable costumes, or worse, simply attaching their name along with a very high price tag to something old they found. In either case, the price tag is rarely justified. To wit:
ACTWU, in general a guarantee of high quality construction.
Back in the Fall/Winter of 2009, our man Thom Browne was offering the same thing as part of the then brand new Brooks Brothers Black Fleece line. Anyone remember this?
Usually when I bring this up, someone is right there to tell me that its all about beautiful fabrics and quality construction with a guy like Thom Browne. But the older jacket is made of butter soft flannel, probably a woo/cotton blend, that reminds me of the best of the old Viyella stuff. The old jacket is just as well constructed. In fact, it's possibly better.
StyleForum. It's a picture of the ladies Black Fleece tattersall jacket from that season. In this case, someone is trying to sell it (unsuccessfully) for $220, after about 1/2 dozen tries at a higher price, and is even entertaining offers. But you know what?
So here we have the common egregious crime of menswear "design" that is a simple remake of a good thing from the past. In much of his other work, Mr. Browne commits the other, sheer unwearable costume. Why pay for that?
My point here is not to start a Thom Browne bashing session. I don't care for what the guy does, but I have friends who do. It's a personal choice. But if you do like this stuff, you don't have to pay for it. Just think creatively. Figure out what it is about this stuff that appeals to you, then shop with a creative eye. If it's Thom Browne you like, you're likely to fine that high quality 1960s vintage, perhaps purchased in a shorter length, is pretty much the same thing. Maybe your tastes lean more toward the luxe flamboyance of Tom Ford. So be it. High quality wool suits from the 1970s are basically what he makes, and there's little to no competition for the real ones, and they're cheap. Buy an old suit, get it altered to fit perfectly and show some chest hair. What's the difference?
The trouble with designers is that rather than bring anything new to the table, they tend to have a good eye for old things that are due for a comeback anyway, then trot them out with a big dog and pony show to go along with it, and of course those huge prices. But there's no reason any well appointed and stylish man can't do the same thing, eschewing of course the dog and pony show, and the prices.
Observe, learn, think and have confidence. Who needs these guys?
p.s. the jackets too small for me, so I'll be offering it for sale in the shop within the next few days. Whoever buys it, please tell someone its Black Fleece and see if they can tell the difference.