The Split Yoke

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There is almost no good journalism about men’s style these days. Outside of this and a few other websites, no-one produces objective, informed and above all critical writing about clothes, brands and products.

I flicked through a magazine called Man About Town last week (a recent launch in the high-end fashion sector, only on its second issue) and found 20 pages about the business of fashion. Should be interesting, except that it comprised several double-page spreads on brands including Dunhill and Church’s, merely describing their luscious interiors, history of craftsmanship and key pieces.

Not one critical or substantive word about what differentiated this business, about how it communicates its value for money, or about different times and designers have changed what it does. Nothing on what its detractors say about it; or on how much water those detractions hold.

Each piece read like an advert. Which perhaps isn’t surprising, given that those companies advertise in the magazine. But this is what journalism is built on – the integrity that allows you to write fairly and objectively, if critically, about those that fund the magazine itself.

Another example this week piled ignorance onto paucity of journalism. The column Brummell in UK newspaper Financial News recommended a bespoke shirt service called Brass Bones, where you can get shirts made to your size by filling in a form online. Nothing wrong with that; it’s a good idea.

But there’s no journalism here. They haven’t tried the service or cast anything like a critical eye over it. There are several online shirt services that have been around for months, even years, yet they don’t get a mention – let alone a comparison. This service is presented as a one-off.

Such is the presentation of the piece, just like the examples in Man About Town, that it could be mistaken for an advert.

But the worst thing is ignorance about the product they are describing. Aside from a rather casual use of the word ‘bespoke’ (see previous post on Sartoriani), the boys at Brummell insightfully point out that the shirts have desirable details such as mother-of-pearl buttons, gussets and split yokes.

Mother-of-pearl is standard. If they didn’t have that you should send them back. The value of gussets is debateable. But split yokes are the worst. They are an anachronism.

Split yokes used to be a sign of quality because it showed that your tailor regularly adjusted his shirts, altering the length of each side of the yoke to fit the individual customer. This is unlikely to be the case today.

In fact, you could argue that having a yoke that is one piece demonstrates quality, as a bespoke shirt by definition doesn’t need to be split and adjusted. Either way, listing it as a feature hardly demonstrates incisive criticism.

I’d bet a decent sum of money the writers of that piece just copied the list from a Brass Bones press release, with little thought for what it meant. Oh well.


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Simon Crompton is a journalist and a style enthusiast living in London, who blogs at permanentstyle.blogspot.com. He has too many suits.

Comments

  1. Kap Jones says:

    Agree completely with your comments on the state of men’s fashion journalism. Nothing irritates me more than to be reading pseudo articles in magazines about men’s fashion that are little more than an advertorial taken from copy provided by the company. If I want this type of insights I can simply visit the company’s website. What I like to read is something with insight that discusses an issue from various perspectives, offers me new things to think about, challenges traditional ideas and makes me reconsider my own views on the matter. That is why reading this site is one of the joys of my busy days. Keep up the great work.