The democratization of men’s clothing over the past 10 years has been a great thing in many ways. Knowledge about clothing brands, products, and history is more accessible than ever due to blogs and forums, and direct-to-consumer brands are making expensive clothing less so. Also, e-commerce as a whole is bringing amazing companies and products to a much larger audience. It’s a great time to love men’s clothing, that’s for sure.
But the fact that so much is available through our internet connections does have some drawbacks. For instance, a lot of our clothing ‘experience’ starts to come from articles and photos, rather than things we own (guilty). Not only that, but sometimes all of our inspiration comes from a folder of .jpgs rather than real human interaction. That’s why I’m advocating that style-driven folks find a menswear mentor – someone that you can interact with and learn from in real life. Wearing clothing is a very human experience, so it makes sense to treat it as such.
I’ve been lucky that through this site and my work I’ve been able to meet many amazing people that love clothing. Through them, I’ve learned as much or more than I have through websites full of Pitti photos, product measurements, and the like. People like Gus Walbolt, Peter, Phil, Jason, Alan, and many more have helped me learn more about brands, style, and the industry as a whole in ways that I never would have through the internet.
So how does one meet other people that love clothing? There a few ways that I can think of:
1. Go to meetups. Many large urban areas – the Bay Area in particular – have a healthy amount of meetups from groups like Styleforum, tumblr, denimbro, and so forth. New faces are always encouraged at these events, and it’s amazing how much fun can be had when you hang out with a bunch of people that are equally nerdy about clothing – it’s like a safe zone.
Not sure where to start? Styleforum often has threads associated with their meetups, and if you’re in the Bay you should know that Denimbruin is coming up at the end of the month. We’d love to see you there!
2. Make some internet friends. Not everyone has access to these meetups, of course, but getting involved in online communities like Styleforum is a great way to meet people with similar interests and learn from them. Blogs are great, but it’s not the ideal place for carrying on a conversation. Just remember that if you’re starting out on a forum you should be polite, do your research, and avoid the trolls – interacting with people on a forum can be a lot harder than doing so in real life.
3. Support your local brick and mortar stores. I love ecommerce – I mean, heck, it’s what I do for a living now – but there are some things that just can’t be done like a real store. Having a store that you frequent and support can be immensely valuable, especially if you can get to know the staff there. It’s easy to get lost in minutiae when learning about clothing online, and sometimes experiencing a product in person with a sales associate you trust can help you think about the item as a whole rather than just as a list of specifications.
Do you have a menswear mentor in your life? A relative, friend, or someone else that inspires you?