Links: Pacoats, Uniform, Turnback Cuff..

style-blogger-peacoat

• Six peacoat styles. (thestyleblogger.com)

• Adopting a personal uniform. (thesilentist.tumblr.com)

• Button-down turnback cuff. (thesuitsofjamesbond.com)

• Skill of thrift shopping. (anaffordablewardrobe.blogspot.com)

• Wool socks are better. (asuitablewardrobe.dynend.com)

• Street Style Berlin: Grey Done Well. (gentlemansgazette.com)

• Sixteen stylish maxims for the new year. (drakes-london.tumblr.com)

Look to the East

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One of the best acknowledged and least challenged fashion truths of recent times is that women are the chief focus and men the afterthought. The colossal developed market for womenswear has dwarfed the relatively irrelevant space for menswear to the extent that a few designers and some retailers have considered dropping male lines altogether. In Europe and North America, despite rough equality in numbers, men and women have been leagues apart when it comes to fashion spending with over 50% of total clothing spend being in womenswear and under a quarter in menswear.

It is easy to detect this difference in focus whilst wandering through one of the branches of a retailing behemoth like Zara, H&M or GAP. Women have two or three floor spaces, men a maximum of one. The womenswear department buzzes with custom, the tills ring constantly; menswear, while not exactly ‘dead’, is a small area of comparative stillness and calm. Men in this part of the world, though the highest earners, are not the most prolific spenders, at least not when it comes to their own costume. Commentators, including myself, have reasoned this as a representation of the differences between the sexes in our cultures; men crave quality, not variety; women crave both, but err on the side of variety. Variety means quantity, volume and consequently greater profit margin potential, ergo the focus from cheaper retailers on womenswear.

However, this trend is based on a limited populous in a limited geographical area that, while fully developed, does not represent the future space for the clothing retail market. A report at the end of last year highlighted the trend towards men in the luxury goods market. In Greater China, 75% of this market is male driven. No surprise then that a simple linking of China’s position as the growth engine of the world with its growth in its highest spenders has provoked luxury giants such as LVMH and PPR to focus on the region. PPR’s purchase of Brioni and its ambition of the brand’s growth in the lucrative Asian market are responses to expectations of 14% growth in luxury menswear, almost double the growth of luxury womenswear at 8%. And its ambition is well-founded; almost half of Ermenegildo Zegna’s $1bn annual sales revenue comes from this region.

Despite the fact that much of the hullaballoo is focused on luxury retail, there is a strong correlation between luxury growth and resultant mid- and lower-tier growth. The simple fact of the matter is that menswear is more dominant in Asia than it is in Europe and North America. In both China and India, two enormous growth economies, menswear is the largest constituent part of the clothing market, contradicting the accepted fashion truths about the sexes. For budding menswear designers, stylists, tailors, retailers and marketers, this will come as good news. For those who already have a mammoth presence in menswear but a comparatively small presence in Asia, it is even better; established names matter in these markets and titans such as Ralph Lauren, long considered to be a menswear brand in a womenswear world, will be laughing themselves silly that their business model has been proven to be the one of the future.

From the Beginning, From a Beginner

This is a guest post by Trent Beven

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It’s a new year with new resolutions (or a revision of last year’s) and there are probably a few people out there who have sworn to never go to the supermarket in track pants again and hopefully a few who’s aims are even higher. There are a lot of good articles on this and other websites about how to build a good wardrobe so I’m not going to touch on that. Here are some practical tips for those just starting out to compliment general advice on wardrobe building you read elsewhere.

Don’t rush yourself
I decided I’d like to wear neck ties without being obliged to do so. They fit in well without looking “too formal” at an art opening or taking your girl out for cocktails. But now, when I look at the first few ties I bought all I can think is “business dad”. Not the style I’m aiming for. So don’t let your eagerness for a new style of dress get the better of you. You are only starting to discover how wide you want your ties to be, in what fabrics and in what patterns (not to mention the scale of the patterns). Inform yourself with a variety of articles on the subject and then look at some of the blogs dedicated to photographing style to see how people make each item work for them (no article of clothing is an island).

Don’t overdo it

Please make sure you heed this advice. Dressing well doesn’t mean dressing formal or stuffy. I hate to think of the times when I was extremely overdressed instead of looking smart and relaxed with dark blue jeans and a well fitting gingham shirt as would have been appropriate.

Spend a bit extra

When you can and when you’ve refined your taste a little, it’s great to spend a bit extra on something nicer than usual.
I’d recommend a good pair of shoes for two reasons. Firstly because the more you spend the longer they last (which is great while your building a wardrobe) and secondly because most men do poorly here, so getting it right will make you really stand out.
A tie, be it neck or bow, wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Sometimes you have to pay a bit extra for that extra panache. Provided that you don’t get yourself into scuffles your tie shouldn’t come across much harm so it will last for decades.

Quick tips

• Spend a little on getting your jeans hemmed, not just your suit pants.
• Buy a variety of belts, maybe start with two which you can wear casually and one more formal.
• Don’t be afraid of wearing something you wouldn’t think of a few months ago; that’s the point of change.
• Don’t underestimate the little details.
• You should learn the rules but not always follow them. I wear tan semi-brogue shoes with light grey suit pants and a blue and white boxcloth belt. By basic rules this combo shouldn’t work, but it really does

This is all something you should enjoy, so don’t take it to seriously, get excited and enjoy yourself.

Trent Beven is a fine arts graduate in rural Australia with weakness for fine hats, blazers and american folk songs.