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Fashion November, 4 2011

Streetorialist Lesson 1: Intros & B-Sides

Columns about fashion in all their forms are everywhere one looks. What to wear with what, where and how to do it, get it, et cetera. Can’t bump into a iPadder without seeing another one. And yet, there aren’t many specifically tailored for the streetwear afficionado. And with that…here we go. Think of me as Peter Mayle circa Acquired Tastes, in a pair of Jordan x AF1 Fusions.

Over the coming weeks and months we’ll get into a lot of aspects of streetwear, and how it fits into the fashion world as a whole. With the de-compartmentalisation of fashion of late, looks and styles can not only blend, they’re sometimes much more happy when they do so. Perhaps sometimes I’ll even get my Glenn O’Brian on, and do little Q&A’s.

Read the rest of the Streetorialist Lesson 1 after the jump.

I’ll give you an example of how the mixing of streetwear into other forms of dressing can puzzle people sometimes. My younger brother has a roommate, who repeatedly gives him trouble in winter (or, at least, as much of a winter as Los Angeles can manage), for wearing a cashmere dress overcoat with Jordan 1s. And yet, I wore Candy Floss-coloured Dunk Mids with denims and a 3/4 length Dries Van Noten herringbone autumn jacket to a gallery opening the other day, and got plenty of compliments. My point? That fashion is predicated upon personal taste, and context.

We all have friends who love to colour co-ordinate their gear. Hat to sweater to kicks. You know what I mean. Unsurprisingly, these being the kinds of friends who quote Big L lyrics. However, unless your primary career is as one of those guys who shouts ‘Wu-Tang’ ad nauseum behind Rae at a show, it’s not a good look for work.

And there it is. There’s nothing wrong with fresh to def. But as we grow up, so does streetwear and street style herself. Most of the original Dons are in their 40s now. And Jeff Staple can definitely rock a suit. Bet on it. There’s a point when all of us have to take it from Beat Street to clean street

Take, for example, the season premier of How To Make It In America (tv show of the moment for burgeoning streetwear moguls). Capo had the best look at the Pop Up party, easy. Slim dark suit, skinny black tie, and a Yankees fittie with just a hint of tilt. Then, one episode later, Ben and Cam show up for brunch at a buyer’s loft, but rather than get all gullied out, they turn up kitted in almost the exact same style as Isaac Mizrahi; simple knits and cardigans with dark ‘crisp’ denim.

There’s lessons to be learned here. Most can be picked up simply by wandering Daikanyama for a Sunday afternoon, though that’s not a strong geographic possibility for a lot of us. The Japanese seem to have a preternatural instinct for what works. What can be juxtaposed and how. Those Joey Ramone jeans with the horse-bit drivers? It works. Or, at least, it can. Ditto for an LV Damier messenger slung off a Rogue Status hoodie.

They say God is in the details, but, in this case, I think it’s actually style that lives there. Not fashion. Style. Check your dictionaries. A quick Google of style gave me “combination of distinctive features of literary or artistic expression, execution, or performance characterizing a particular person, group, et cetera,” and that pretty much sums it up. Personal style is, without question, a form of expression.

So what’s the difference between style and fashion? I used to know a guy in Shanghai whose family was in the hotel business. One of the hotels has a Prada boutique in the lobby. Every time we’d see him he would be fully minted in head to toe Miuccia. He looked good, no question, and fashionable, but more like a mannequin than a man. There was a noted lack of personality.

And with that to ponder I’m off, as next week’s column seems to be writing itself. Cheers.

Text by @quentincrispy

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