I headed over to Brooklyn today and chatted with Joseph Genuardi who is featured in the recent documentary Men of the Cloth. Joseph is currently head tailor at Martin Greenfield Clothiers, a leading US manufacturer of hand-tailored men’s clothing. Not only did Joseph show me the different workshop areas of the nearly century old building, we also had a great conversation on his interesting journey in the industry and the state of menswear today.
The enthusiastic interest in the documentary speaks to the noteworthy rise and prominence of menswear in the last five years or so. Tailoring matters because fit matters. And fit matters because younger men are more aware of how they look in clothes, value their appearance and wish to incorporate well-fitting clothes in their lifestyle. Hence the (re)emergence of slim fitting suits, jackets and shirts in the early 2000s with Band of Outsiders, Thom Browne, and Hedi Slimane. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
History also tells us that the last word on fit is found in the realm of bespoke menswear, which takes us full circle to Joseph and the craft of tailoring. The question nowadays is whether the renewed prominence of menswear has staying power. Both Joseph and I believe that it does. The current generation of menswear customers is fully bought into the core idea of fit, which encourages more choice and better quality in menswear. At some point in their journey, they will come across custom tailoring or aspire to it.
In the meantime, the next stage in RTW menswear – menswear 2.0 if you will – will be very interesting. My sense is that menswear has probably changed more rapidly in the last five years than in the last fifty. Put simply, I think today’s menswear brands are a way to access more fitted clothing without going the traditional bespoke route.
Hence, the menswear entrepreneur of 2015 is asking questions such as: How might a smartphone improve the menswear experience? (As an aside, the smartphone is now the single most important fashion and lifestyle accessory for both men and women much like the brimmed hat was de rigueur decades ago.) Alternatively, is there an Uber equivalent for menswear to help me get to my sartorial destination?
We already see glimpses of the future in startups like Mtailor (custom shirts with improved fit assurance through a smartphone app), zTailors (on-demand alterations) or Woodies (algorithmic custom sizing of shirts using big data). Today’s menswear startups are an interesting blend of the old and the new – low tech and high tech.
Yet there is a common denominator – fit and how to improve it. As long as men continue to concern themselves with fit, I believe the menswear space will develop and evolve in interesting ways. I look forward to exploring these opportunities in the upcoming year from a new operating base in Paris.