Hell of a year 2017. Prognosticating the ebb and flow of Men’s style is not easy. But that doesn’t mean we can’t throw a few mental darts at the board. Below you’ll find a few predictions for the upcoming year in men’s style. An emphasis has been placed on the affordable realm, and note that these aren’t necessarily endorsements/wishes. Just predictions.
#1. A major… something happens to J. Crew’s Business.
J. Crew’s clock continues to tick. And that’s not a good thing for those of us who really appreciate their sportcoats, outerwear, Goodyear welted shoes, slim sweaters, and suits (when on sale). But 2017 saw the departure of Jenna Lyons and Frank Muytjens, and Mickey Drexler even stepped down as CEO. Now? It’s still stormy as hell out there, and they’re doing anything they can to keep the business inhaling at the right time, instead of swallowing stomach fulls of retail fail-water (see the release of their new “untucked” line of shirts). The “something” that’s being predicted here would be more major than changing personnel. Whether it’s a sale, spin off, or serious restructuring.
Like J. Crew’s suits & sportcoats, sweaters, and shoes? Brace yourselves. Maybe.
#2. Trends: Prints make way for bright colors and textures.
2017 was the year of Russel Westbrook-like prints. 2018? I’m thinking that busy print-look steps back, but bright colors and lots of varied textures step forward.
#3. Brands use even more tech/blended fabrics to offer stretch/comfort.
When’s the last time you bought a pair of 100% cotton jeans or chinos? Most of us went from buying shirts and pants with 2% stretch, to looking for major hybrid blends that are engineered to wick and move to the extreme. Maybe this is a result of the athleisure thing (full honesty, I own and wear a few Lululemon shirts when I want to be super comfortable), or climate change (who’s still not used to sweating 7 pounds per day in summer?), but science and innovation is bleeding more and more into style.
Jeans in 2018 better be able to keep up with a wicked game of dance-dance-revolution.
#4. Most fashion media goes back to completely ignoring affordability.
It’s funny, and terrifying, how quickly we forget. Allow me to remind us all of an oddly forgotten fact: The 2008 Financial Crisis was really, really bad. Like, it took some serious, big time risks (TARP) and downright magic (quantitative easing!) to stop the hemorrhaging. Yet less than a decade on, all the traditional fashion rags are back to promoting $8000 designer suits and $2000 John Lobb shoes. Back when the stock market was still kicking about under 10,000, there was at least a cursory nod to people who didn’t live in Manhattan high-rises awash (for now) with cryptocurrency “fortunes.” Seems like most of those editors are back to a pre 2008 state of mind. Here’s to hoping that’s not a sign of something larger, and angrier, on the horizon.
#5. Target’s Goodfellow brand improves.
After much hype and anticipation, Target launched their “Goodfellow” line of men’s clothing last year. It was… fine. Fabrics were okay, sizing was a bit odd, but overall it was well received. Still, there’s room for improvement, and Target’s in a war right now with Wal Mart (who acquired Bonobos this year). It’d behoove Target to learn from what mistakes they made with that first run of Goodfellow & Co. stuff.
Launched in 2017. Improvements in fit and quality to come in 2018?
#6. Hair styles get shorter, but beards and scruff stick around.
We cook bacon, yet bake cookies… and shorter hair up top, yet longer hair on your face, combine to make for less maintenance. Friends, the universe is full of mysteries.
#7. Amazon continues to be limited when it comes to men’s fashion.
They’ve made some strides with their Buttoned Down shirts and “Amazon Essentials” sweaters, but where’s the rest of it? Remember Franklin Tailored and Franklin & Freeman? Seems like they gave up on that stuff pretty quick.
Amazon’s venture into in-house fashion seems to be… limited to the OCBDs seen above. (And not much else?)
#8. Fashion “Influencers” get even more shameless.
We fight that here, hard. (is Dappered even an “influencer?” Does one need a face to be an influencer?) But don’t be surprised to see even some of the more conservative/traditional folks selling out, hard, on social media. (Oh look I just happen to have this Lexus to drive to the Hamptons for the weekend! Thanks Lexus!) But what do you expect when everyone uses Ad block? People complain about product placement in their content, but content costs money. And if you’re blowing through the ads via DVR, or, not even white-listing sites that keep their ad space to a minimum, well then James Bond is gonna have a Heineken.
#9. Suits start to become socially divisive.
Millennials continue to flood the job market, and by many metrics, they’re fucked. Combine that with the increasing casual nature of society and the disparity of income distribution, and well, what says “Hey I’m a have and you’re a have NOT” in the eyes of a millennial more than someone in a suit?
“Oh hi there millennial who’s perpetually stuck in the gig-economy, don’t mind me…
I’m just off to bury your dreams.”
#10. Online custom brands continue to expand.
Expect more brands selling more than just suits. Why? As the retail middle ground continues to get squeezed, a market for well fitting stuff is opening up. Fast Fashion, for many, fits like crap (partly because it’s built like crap while also being made in far too generalized S/M/L/XL sizing templates). Sure, taking 10-20 measurements to fill in those data points for an online custom company is a pain in the arse, but once you get your fit dialed in, you might end up buying more than just suits. Especially if your body type is not the norm.