THE A–Z OF FASHION-BABBLE, 2018
From ‘Gvasalia, Demna’ to ‘Sockless’, these are the A to Zs of fashion-babble, version 2018.
AAMIES, SIR HARDY
Ex-british intelligence officer-turned royal couturier and Savile Row maverick who democratised men’s tailoring and single-handedly reinvented the concept of men’s fashion in the United Kingdom. Designed the costumes for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and wrote the essential ABC of Men’s Fashion, serialised in Esquire in 1964. Said Sir Hardy: “A man should look as if he has bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them.”
Application of the design of buildings to the creation of modern clothing. The notion of geometry and scale in menswear items; the design line of a garment’s architecture (eg, construction) that favours rigidity and emphasises the masculine form. Actually, a poncey way of saying “fitted”.
A way of defensively aggrandising once super-fashionable, now mothballed clothing items among one’s cruelly judgemental peer group. “What is that old jacket you are wearing?” “Comme. 2011. Archive.”
Middle-aged men’s fashion for wearing multiple bangles, bracelets, Balearic VIP bands, ethnic festival beads etc on one’s wrist… long into the autumn. Stephen Webster. Arpad “Arki” Busson. Keith Richards. ATHLEISURE ( fig 1 ) “Athletic” and “leisure” schmatta as proffered by everyone from Savile Row tailors through to Cos on the high street. Think hoodies in 16-ply cashmere, suiting teamed with luxe leather sneakers and casually tailored, grey flannel trousers with a drawstring waist. Started about 10 years ago, igniting a trend for portmanteau-driven fashion. See also, “Steez” and “Sportsluxe”.
Variously, “Beau cadre, bon gout” (“Good class, good taste”). Or “Bon chic, bon genre” (“Good style, good attitude”). Shamelessly snooty, Parisian compliment/social sub-set that is loaded with allusions to the rich and well-educated, French upper classes. Enforces the wildly dated notion of style being umbilically connected to old money and good breeding. BCBG men favour cashmere and tweed teamed with classic items of understated Gucci and Hermès. Despised by Paris’s Bobos (Bohemian Bourgeois). BELLA FIGURA
Literally, “beautiful figure”. Intangible but omnipresent concept central to the male Italian urbanite’s philosophy of living well. Combines deportment, etiquette, manners, gait, humour, confidence, deference, spirit, sitting position, libido, smile, smoking technique etc. And is therefore all but impossible for British men to even begin to comprehend. See also, “Sprezzatura”.
Tailoring term used to describe the craft and technique of originating a handmade suit or garment to a customer’s individual measurements and specific requirements. Acknowledging nuances of the wearer’s body — slope of shoulder, rake of spine — the bespoke suit-making process involves uniquely individualised patterns, bastes, horsehair and interlining, takes a minimum of 50 hours of handwork and invites a series of fittings. Originates from the notion of a customer choosing a bolt of cloth in the tailor’s shop whereupon it would be marked as being “bespoken for”. Or the manner in which the customer “bespeaks” (communicates) his sartorial desire to the tailor. Often abused, bespoke is not to be confused with “made to measure” — or the US variant “custom” — which is defined as the altering/modification of standardised patterns or ready-made garments to fit the customer’s needs.
After Prussian Generalfeldmarschall Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher (1742– 1819). A type of shoe, similar to a derby, where vamp and tongue are constructed
of one, continuous piece of leather, overlapping at the quarters and lacing across the instep.
BOILER SUIT ( fig 2 )
One-piece, loose-fitting garment originally worn by men maintaining coal-fired boilers. More recently adopted by manual workers and the general engineering trade, the boiler suit became a bona fide utilitarian fashion item in the early Forties when Sir Winston Churchill commissioned Jermyn Street tailor Turnbull & Asser to make him a selection of bespoke “siren suits” in pinstripe serge and — get you, mister — green velvet. Churchill wore the suits for bricklaying, painting and at the Yalta Conference attended by Stalin and Roosevelt. “Coveralls”, as the Americans call them, recently featured in men’s collections by Louis Vuitton and Raf Simons. Also worn by The Ghostbusters. Not to be confused with the “onesie”.
Cutting-edge French photographer (1928–’91) whose dazzling, unsettling, provocative, sinister, quasi-porno images of psychodrama, homoeroticism and long, twisted limbs changed magazine publishing and fashion advertising forever over a distinguished career spanning 40 years.
Male rite of passage, popular circa 16th- to early 20th-century. Significant occasion when a small boy makes the transition from wearing the unisex gowns or dresses worn by both male and female babies, to more mature and manly breeches or trousers. In the Western world, this could happen at any time between the ages of two to eight. No longer widely acknowledged, breeching was often marked with a small party where the boy’s father would hold his newly trousered child aloft in proud celebration.
CCAZAL Luxury maximalist German eyewear marque. Created by the Austrian designer Cari Zalloni (Carl Zalloni) Cazal’s bold and oversized 607 sunglasses were worn by RUN-DMC rapper Darryl Mcdaniels (aka DMC) from 1981 starting what became a lasting trend across the wider hip-hop community. Other Cazal enthusiasts include Jay-z, Kanye West and Rick Ross, who also has the brand’s logo tattooed on his face. During 1984, New York police reported a spate of four Cazal-related murders in Manhattan with youths being shot dead or stabbed to death for their $500 spectacles. CHOLO Seen in the 1988 film Colors (directed by Dennis Hopper), cholo is a MexicanAmerican subculture and streetwise aesthetic originating in the East Los Angeles Chicano community and often affiliated with turf wars, violence, gun crime and gangsterism. Classic cholo style includes bandanas, hairnets, white vests, knee-high tube socks, Dickies trousers or long shorts and flannel shirts worn with only the top button fastened. Cholo style was widely referenced in recent collections by Vetements and Yeezy.
Utilitarian apparel category. French. (Chore: task or job.) Worker jackets and trousers in heavy-duty cotton. Mostly in a distinctive, cornflower blue tone. Origin, early 1800s. Chore jackets and trousers worn by farmers, craftsman, mechanics and railway workers. Now adopted by mature Shoreditch hipsters and re-imagined by menswear designers including Folk, Oliver Spencer, Margaret Howell and Vetements for the designer market. The late New York street photographer Bill Cunningham wore a chore jacket to work every day.
From co-educational, mixed male/female schools. Trend for staging combined men’s and women’s collections on the same runway show (recently undertaken by Burberry, Gucci and Vivienne Westwood). Marketed as modern, free thinking, gender-fluid philosophy and a mark of the fashion industry’s openness to change. Actually, an ingeniously canny, cost-cutting exercise.
COAT SLINGING ( fig 3 )
The heinously self-conscious habit of draping a winter coat/bomber jacket/ chunky cardigan over one’s shoulders. As favoured by daytime TV style maverick David Dickinson and men who want to get papped for The Sartorialist at Pitti Uomo. (To be discouraged.) In 2015, the New York Post’s fashion section ran a story headlined, “Stop draping your coat over your shoulders, you look like an idiot.” They were right. Even worse is “coat shawling”, which is the practice of wearing an overcoat low down on the arms in the manner of a lady’s shawl.
The apparently bold donning of two (or more) conventionally clashing colours within the same ensemble. Said to be influenced by the neoplasticism of Dutch modernist Piet Mondrian. (Can also make grown men look like children’s TV presenters.)
Annoying fashion industry word for “colours”. For instance, “The new Air Jordans come in some really nice colourways.”
Salty, sleepy, Portuguese coastal town just south of super-hip Lisbon that is fast becoming boho catnip for the international fashion crowd. Mario Testino, Christian Louboutin, Madonna, Jacques Grange, Philippe Starck and Anselm Kiefer all like to “summer” in Comporta. COUP DE TIE Significant, stylistically contrapuntal moment when one’s necktie decides to stage a subtle but dramatic coup, with the traditionally thinner, shorter length of silk foulard at the back of the knotted configuration suddenly daring to show a bold, new-found confidence and audaciously presenting itself as the longer player on the shirt placket stage. Letting the skinny end of the tie hang longer than the front-facing wide side is very big with Milanese men.
DDAD Variously pejorative/complimentary prefix that can be attached to the front of “jeans”, “brands” and “bands” to denote almost exclusive patronage by the 40-plus male patriarch audience. Former “dad brands”, such as The North Face, Columbia and Patagonia are now considered fashionable for young people also. See also, “Gorpcore”. DAN, DAPPER Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day. Veteran New York hip-hop clothing maverick who created extraordinary, enthusiastically bootlegged Gucci and Louis Vuitton logoed garments in leather for the likes of LL Cool J and Eric B & Rakim during rap’s imperial 1982 to 1992 period, before shutting up his Harlem store and retiring. This year, in a quite extraordinary turn of events, the Gucci house and its creative director Alessandro Michele announced a collaboration with Day, the reopening of his shop and atelier, and the fully sanctioned use of official Gucci fabrics and prints. Dapper Dan customer Floyd Mayweather? Already notified.
Legendary but visually unassuming Chinese restaurant situated at 12 rue de Richelieu, Paris, run by Davé Cheung whose patrons have included Yves Saint Laurent, Johnny Depp, Kate Moss, Lee Mcqueen, Keith Haring, Leonardo Dicaprio, David Bowie, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams. Go during fashion week… but keep your iphone in your pocket.
General, polite, all-can-do word to describe any look that is on-trend fashionable (but a teensy bit silly).
Industry buzzword. Most popular from 2014–’16. According to Harvard Business Review, “disruption” describes a process whereby “smaller companies with fewer resources are able to successfully challenge established incumbent businesses”. Basically, it’s a new way of doing things that renders the current model outdated — such as selling items to consumers straight from the catwalk (see also, “See Now, Buy
Now”) and it’s also why Instagram stars are now getting front row seats during the Milan collections shows.
DROP ( fig 4 )
Excitable industry/streetwear term to describe the once rather humdrum process of a simple clothes delivery. For example, Thursday is “drop day” at Supreme, Soho, London, meaning endless queues of skittish-looking hypebeastial geeks in baggy hiking clothes, staring at their phones while they wait in silent, deferential hysteria for a van to arrive and drop new baseball caps, backpacks and goose-down puffer collabs.
Lingering element of a men’s fragrance or aftershave that persists in a pleasing manner after its perfume has dried on the skin. Sample speech, “Mmmm... that dry down of tobacco, gasolene and cinnamon is really sexy on you, Darren.”
EELKANN, LAPO Frequently troubled but reliably entertaining grandson of Gianni Agnelli, the late playboy boss of the Fiat automobile company. Runs his own Italia Independent sunglasses outfit and is head of Ferrari’s bespoke service, Ferrari Tailor-made. Likes a Fiat Cinquecento and a swanky Rubinacci suit. Dated socialite Goga Ashkenazi and fashion designer Mary-kate Olsen.
Casual, canvas or cotton fabric shoes with a flexible sole made of jute rope and moulded rubber. The French word “espadrille” derives from “espardenya”,
the Catalan name for shoes made from
“esparto”, the hardy, hemp-like, Mediterranean grass twisted to make rope. Espadrilles were worn by Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael during their heyday as hit-making pop duo Wham! And now by various cast members of TV’S The Only Way is Essex.
Thinking-man’s antidote to fast fashion and hypebeast consumerism. Ethical menswear labels focus on sustainably sourced biodegradable materials — organic cotton, hemp and bamboo — and transparent supply chains manufacturing clothes that are built to last, rather than throw away as landfill after one season. Many ethical menswear labels also operate a repair service. Ethical brands to seek out: Nudie Jeans, Patagonia, People Tree, Finisterre.
FFLAME / FLAMES Compliment. A fashion talent or item of clothing that is “hot” (like it’s on fire). As in, “Those shoes are flame!” FLEX
Showing off your new clothes. “Wow. Jamal is really flexing that Prada T-shirt.” Don’t ever say this… even if you are Craig David. FOXED
As pertaining to shirt collars. Gently frayed, “foxed” collars occur on shirts of a certain age and experience. Caused by a combination of laundry, age, friction and coarse beard hair frottage. Fetishised by US preppies, Bryan Ferry, old money aristos and wannabes as a Wasp-ish mark of foppish loucheness. Rumours abound of men taking sandpaper to shirt collars to affect the distressed, foxed look on new garments.
GGENDER FLUIDITY The notion of men being allowed to wear the same clothes as women. And vice versa. Blurred gender boundaries and shared, male/female catwalks, with models of both sexes wearing clothing from the same lines, are now commonplace. Gender neutrality, meanwhile, champions the idea that gender no longer dictates the way people dress. John Lewis has now abolished girls and boys labels on its children’s clothing line and an increasing amount of high street
fashion brands such as H&M have launched gender-neutral collections.
Original term for T-shirt. From “gob”, popular US Navy slang for “sailor”. (Possibly referring to their loudmouthed, gobby tendencies.) Copied from the French Navy’s undershirts circa 1913, gob shirts were worn by American sailors for menial tasks during warmer summer months, a fashion that prompted American retail giant Sears to advertise them as outer garments for sale to the general public. In 1938, Fruit of the Loom and Hanes gob shirts cost around 24 cents each. (During World War II, the dazzling white was thought to be an easy target for the enemy to spot and enlisted men were encouraged to dull-down their cotton shirts with coffee powder.)
“Gorp” and “core” combined. Gorp, originally from the old English word “to eat greedily” but co-opted by Americans as an acronym for “Good old raisins and peanuts”, aka a “trail mix” aggregate favoured by hikers and outdoor types. Intended as a humorous variant on the brief, 2016 fashion for ultraordinary “Normcore” menswear styles (as epitomised, non-intentionally, by the American comic Larry David), Gorpcore fashion piles on multiple layers of resilient and impermeable outdoor garments by Columbia, The North Face, Teva and Birkenstock. Brands such as Givenchy, Prada and Lanvin have all presented their own interpretations of the trend. Popular with both A$AP Rocky and Drake. NB: Gorpcore fashion is responsible for the unlikely re-emergence of the bumbag or “fanny pack” as a fashion item. (Now worn front-facing and slung across the body, Sam Browne-style.)
GOTH NINJA ( fig 5 )
Particular type of man who dresses in The Matrix-ish, all-black, futuristic clobber by Rick Owens. See also, “Murdered Out”.
An all-grey outfit. Can be a good look. But stop when you get down to footwear.
American slang for “overdressed”. Possibly derived from “gussy”, English Forties playground slang for a showy, effeminate, flamboyant type of man, often called Augusta or Augustus.
Georgia-born, Antwerp-educated creative director of Balenciaga and Vetements. Radical, menswear game-changer marketing genius, who managed to make £200 Dhl-print T-shirts fashionable.
HHANDS ON Menswear blogger term for actually touching something, rather than just looking at it on the internet. “Read my blog this week and watch as I get hands on with the new Brunello Cucinelli collection at Pitti Uomo!”
Provenance, craft, history, family, tradition and nostalgia are all essential buzzwords in the “storying” of a true heritage brand. Brown canvas luggage, rugged, utilitarian selvedge product in buff cardboard packaging, the suggestion of hand craft and a factory workforce situated in some downbeat, Springsteen-ish Rust Belt town (Pittsburgh or Detroit) are further convincers for the international hipster market. Think Filson, Carhartt, Red Wing Shoes.
Pronounced “ho-dink-ey”. World’s leading and most influential wristwatch blog attracting more than 750,000 unique readers per month from over 200 different countries. Founded by former UPS consultant Benjamin Clymer. “Hodinkee” is derived from the Czech word
“hodinky”, which means wristwatch. Jay-z is a follower.
Derogatory term for fashion-besotted young man with a blind addiction to the purchasing of overpriced, designer streetwear products. Disregarding of quality, fit or suitability, the hypebeast values rarity, label, currency and desirability over personal taste. Will often re-sell super-hot items on the internet for a, usually considerable, profit.
IICH DON’T THINK SO!
Camp, Teutonic put-down as originated by Sacha Baron Cohen’s funkyzeit Euro-trash fashion monster character, Brüno. For ultimate impact, delivered with a haughty sneer along the lines of: “You are on the guest list for the Balenciaga party tonight? Ich don’t think so!”
INANE CLOWN POSSE
Male fashion victims/morons who dress themselves up ridiculously in wacky, clownish, will.i.am-type ensembles, wrongly believing themselves to be “individuals”. Inane Clown Posse look is strong in South Korea and certain districts of Los Angeles. See also, “Hypebeast”.
Immediate, instantaneous and spontaneous purchase of a hot fashion item. See also, “See Now, Buy Now”.
The idea that some desirable and thus expensive items of clothing transcend fashion and become a worthwhile investment because of the amount of wear and life you will get from them. Investment pieces tend to be menswear staples and design classics: Burberry trench coat, black cashmere roll-neck, Huntsman suit, Church’s brogues, Armani tuxedo, and so on.
Not the delicious Dior fragrance, but a melodramatically camp way of professing passionate, fashion-love for something, someone or some garment. “Antony Price for Roxy Music, 1975? J’adore.” See also, “Love”.
Another word for clothes. Actually, a coolly lazy, catch-all, Philadelphia-originated term for a thing, place, concept, person or event that one cannot (or cannot be bothered to) find a specific name for. “Got me some fresh jawns from the new Supreme drop.”
JEAN LAY ( fig 6 )
The manner in which the hem of one’s denim trouser leg sits/presents/breaks on different items of contemporary footwear. Jean lay varies incrementally but crucially, depends upon the wearer’s preference for trainers, work boots or classic brogues.
Founder of Supreme, the world’s most wanted streetwear brand. See also, “Drop”.
KKIDS Hipster heaven: 1995 film written by Harmony Korine, directed by Larry Clark and starring Chloë Sevigny. Even more than two decades on, the swaggering, stripped-down, utilitarian, thrift store style of the freebasing, shoplifting skate teens in this slacker movie classic looks impossibly, fabulously… now.
Creepy, sexless, body-dysmorphic T-shirts that are cut extra long at the back and cover the bum. As worn by Justin Bieber. LOVE
Serious declaration of fashion adoration. To be deployed in isolation only. While stroking the lapel of a new Saint Laurent coat: “Love.” (Emphasis via an open palm pressed to heart is optional but advised.)
MMERCH Truncated term for “merchandise”. Formerly unlovely but keenly prized fan clothing — T-shirts, sweatshirts, caps — decorated with pop group or rock band insignia and sold at concerts. Hijacked by the fashion community in the early Noughties with “ironic” style for wearing vintage heavy metal band T-shirts (Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Black Sabbath) finding popularity with east London, New York and Los Angeles
hipsters. Merch fashion reached its tipping point peak in 2016 when Kanye West merched his Yeezy Season Three show at Madison Square Garden, with long queues for The Life of Pablo album sweats and T-shirts… and officially ended when West wore a (Suffolk extreme metal band) Cradle of Filth tour T-shirt out to dinner in Los Angeles. NB: a Justin Bieber merch collection was recently marketed by H&M.
MICHELE, ALESSANDRO ( fig 7 )
Gucci’s game-changing creative director. Looks like a Merovingian Frank Zappa. Favours long hair, a beard and floral, appliqué satin Nudie-style suits, à la Gram Parsons’
Grievous Angel period. Harry Styles’s stylist is a big fan.
Refers to an all-black item, trainer colourway, 4x4 vehicle or overall fashion ensemble. Whether that be Nike, Range Rover or Rick Owens. Derived from custom car culture and the trend for vehicles rendered in murderous, all-black paint jobs, extending to windows and interiors.
NNEATS Small socks with intricately detailed, evenly spaced design patterns and weaves. To be worn (and shown) with traditional men’s shoes. NUTTER, TOMMY Legendarily flamboyant tailor and retailer (1943–’92). The Nutter’s of Savile Row shop and atelier opened in 1969, run by Nutter as designer with master cutter Edward Sexton. Financed by Cilla Black and The Beatles’ organisation. Notable rockstar customers included The Rolling Stones and Elton John. Nutter was known for (not without controversy) fashionising and democratising Savile Row and for mixing traditional tailoring with the huge lapels, flared Oxford bags trousers, clashing tweeds and houndstooth cloths of the Seventies. Three out of the four Beatles wore Tommy Nutter ensembles on the cover of the famous 1969 Abbey Road album, with only George Harrison electing to wear double denim. Nutter also created the three-piece suit worn by Jack Nicholson’s Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989).
“Elevated streetwear” label founded by DJ, architecture graduate and Kanye West’s creative director, Virgil Abloh. ON FLEEK
Oddly unfathomable, probably made-up, vlogger-speak Americanisation of a nonexistent French-ism for something smooth, sweet, chic and expensive. For instance, “Hi guys! Now we’re going to talk about my haircut which is totally on fleek today!”
Pointlessly reverential industry talk for individual clothing items. “Paul Smith’s new collection had some really nice pieces.”
A lapel that flops down or turns up after wearing. Most common on double-breasted or peaked lapels.
Aka, The Trouser Coachella. Held twice a year, Pitti Immagine Uomo was once a rather dreary rag trade show exclusively patronised by press and buyers. In recent years, Pitti has transformed itself into a live-casting street theatre of preening menswear dandies and vainglorious gadabouts — aka, Etro Wombles — who wander the streets around Fortezza da Basso, Florence, getting photographed for one another’s blogs and Instagram feeds wearing their coats slung over their shoulders. See also, “Coat Slinging”.
QQASIMI Super-cool Emirati label inspired by socio-
political issues, architecture and contemporary art. Owned by Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, the son of Sultan bin Muhammad Al-qasimi, current ruler of Sharjah. Not to be confused with “Struggle Brand”.
“Pre-collection” that comes after autumn/winter clothes have gone on sale but before spring/summer clothes have been delivered to stores. A semi-mythical fashion “season”, resort collections show during July and August, with clothes not available in stores until the following December and January. Also called “cruise”, “pre-spring”, or “holiday”. (Not to be confused with “pre-fall” — a small, capsule collection released by designers just ahead of the autumn fashion shows in February and arriving in stores in early summer.)
ROCK OF EYE
Ocular judgement born of experience rather than scientific process. Savile Row-speak for a specific tailoring talent who can, at a glance, instinctively surmise dimension, cut, vital stats without the need of measuring tools. “Is Terry at number 41 your trouser maker? That man has incredible rock of eye.”
Cold War-inspired Russian fashion designer, photographer and founder of his eponymousbrand. Now working in partnership with Comme des Garçons.
SEE NOW, BUY NOW
The new-ish thing for buying clothes straight off live-streamed catwalk shows, negating and subverting the conventional wholesaler/buyer/ retailer/customer process. See also, “Disruptive”.
SEERSUCKER ( fig 8 )
Thin, usually stripy, puckered cotton fabric used to make jackets, trousers and suits for warm weather summer wear. From Persian words “sheer” and “shakar” (“milk” and “sugar”) in acknowledgement of contrasting smooth and rough surfaces of material. Seersucker’s wrinkles are designed to improve air circulation and have a cooling effect on the wearer. Colourways include blue and white, pink and white, yellow and white, light brown and white. Seersucker jackets and shorts are most popular with American Wasps and New York preppies.
East London’s Shoreditch (Sho) and Hoxton (Ho) area. An amusing, unofficially acknowledged variant of the more famous Sohos in central London and Manhattan, Sho-ho is the (albeit self-styled) world’s most fashionable locale and a men’s shopping and grooming nirvana. SHOE Male accessory/necessity. Often of leather construction or similarly hardy fabric. Worn on lower extremities/feet for the purpose of insulation, protection, locomotion and, of course, fashion. Made up of a number of arcane constituent parts including: sole, upper, breast, counter, feather, quarter, seat, shank, throat, toe cap, vamp, waist, welt and topline.
The irrational/considered decision to forgo traditional hosiery when wearing leather shoes or trainers. Originally adopted by American varsity preppies during summer months but now accepted as an all-year-round affection that eschews practicality and adverse weather conditions for carefree hipster style. Can be applied to loafers, brogues, trainers, and worn against denim jeans and tailored trousers. Referenced in 1981 by Talking Heads in their song “Houses in Motion”: “For a long time I felt / Without style and grace / Wearing shoes with no socks / In cold weather.” The thing for “chaussures sans chaussettes” is particularly popular with French men.
French. Literally, “flexibility”, but more often employed as a term to describe elegance in the saddle — the delicate art of perfectly poised pedalling, cadence and
rhythm while riding a racing bicycle.
Sporty clothing in luxury cuts and fabrics. Not to be confused with the Alan Partridge wardrobe staple “sports casual”. See also, “Athleisure”.
Italian. Occasionally shortened to “sprezzy”. Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “studied carelessness” but originating from Baldassare Castiglione’s 16th century courtesy tome, The Book of the Courtier, as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it”. Applied most commonly to a man’s attire and general style. See also, “Bella Figura”.
Predominantly female, occasionally male conceit (ie, marketing ploy) of fashion as a network of social media-driven micro tribes and cliques. Requires labels, designers and public relations teams to encourage a devoted “gang” mentality (preferably in front of a step-andrepeat board) by inveigling the photogenic solidarity of celebrities, models, musicians and influencers, mostly via time-honoured gratis designer clobber and front row seats at the runway shows. Hip-hop hands often in evidence as the pap cameras snap. Notable brand squads include Olivier Rousteing’s #Balmainarmy and former Givenchy creative director Riccardo Tisci’s #Lovegang.
Style with ease. Think Uniqlo and Cos. See also, “Athleisure” and “Sports Luxe”.
Ghetto-originated label or heritage manufacturer whose marketing and brand values suggest/represent the hardship of life experienced by its founders/workers/ designers via the positivity and honesty of its product. Exemplar: Detroit’s Shinola.
TONAL BEIGE Bizarrely bland and sexless, Caucasian-ish skin tone colourway as seen in Kanye West’s early Yeezy collections. Immediately copied by the high street. Often rendered in “Longline” T-shirts. See also, “Gender Fluidity”. TONIK Two-tone or changeant-effect wool fabric first introduced and trademarked by men’s tailoring cloth specialists Dormeuil in 1957. Despite its reputation for being scratchy and uncomfortable against skin, the three-ply mohair wool blend became popular with the Mod movement and was worn by Michael Caine in the classic 1966 film Alfie. The actor was reported to have taken special care of his suit during filming: “I was wearing a navy blue, lightweight suit, in a material called Tonik, made by Dormeuil, and I didn’t want it spoiling. I don’t care whether a bird uses Max Factor matte film or Outdoor Girl from Woolworths, if she starts purring up against your lapel, it won’t look the better for it.”
TOWIE TIGHTS ( fig 9 )
Risible men’s fashion for wearing very close-fitting jeans and trousers. Cut to hug the contours of a man’s thighs, calves, backside and reproductive vicinity in the manner of a ballet dancer’s hosiery. Towie tights (aka jeggings) were made famous by the male cast of the Brentwood-based reality television programme The Only Way is Essex — Mario Falcone, Pete Wicks and Liam “Gatsby” Blackwell (NB: no relation to the fictional F Scott Fitzgerald character Jay Gatsby).
Aka vanity sizing. Cruelly, body dismorphisising fashion industry practice of marking trouser waist sizes smaller than the waistband’s actual measurement. Designed to normalise obesity and falsely convince customers of slimness, some manufacturers vanity size down by five inches, making a man with a 38in toxic waist believe himself to be fitting into a pair of 33in-waisted trousers.
Alternative word for “trousers”. Used in the singular in order to sound more “industry” and Savile Row.
THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG Les Parapluies de Cherbourg. A 1964 French-german new wave, social realist operetta directed by Jacques Demy, starring Catherine Deneuve with music by Michel Legrand. Endlessly influential for its use of bright colour, styling and male star Nino Castelnuovo’s immaculate blue shirt/brown suit tailoring. If you liked La La Land, you’ll love Les Parapluies…
VERTICAL BRANDS Niche, specialist fashion labels catering to the needs of a specific group of people. In contrast to a horizontal market, where the focus is diverted to a larger, less discerning group of people. See also, “Off-white” and “Qasimi”.
WARDROBING Crafty and likely illegal practice of purchasing new designer clothing, wearing only once (with all tags still intact and unremoved), and then returning to vendor with a full refund demand. Popular with web shoppers. WINDSOR, CHARLES ( fig 10 ) Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten Windsor. Prince of Wales. Duke of Cornwall. Duke of Rothesay. Heir apparent to the British throne. Style icon. Crowned Britain’s best-dressed man by Esquire in 2009 and an Esquire cover star in 2017. “I have lurched from being the bestdressed man to being the worst-dressed man,” he once commented. “I don’t know why — presumably it sells publications. Meanwhile, I have gone on, like a stopped clock — and my time comes around every 25 years.”
Alphabetical device employed to bind two sides of a fashion partnership. Teaming up, say, a heritage brand with a sportswear behemoth. Notable examples include: Louis Vuitton x Jeff Koons; Vetements x Levi’s; A$AP Rocky x Guess; Alexander Wang x Adidas Originals; Christopher Kane x Crocs. X-RAY FABRICS Sheer fabrics with a revealing, translucent effect. Appearing on catwalks since spring/summer 2014 when the likes of Burberry and Giambattista Valli presented X-ray fabrics on the runway in the form of shirts and jackets. Most definitely inadvisable for men of a certain age. XENNIAL Micro-demographic category for people born 1977 to 1983 who are, significantly, just old enough to have known a life before the internet but too old to be “digital natives”. Coined by writer Sarah Stankorb for “a micro-generation that serves as a bridge between the disaffection of Gen X and the blithe optimism of millennials”. Xennials are besotted with Stranger Things, favour the clunky, retro tech of vinyl records and Sonic the Hedgehog games, and dress in the scuffed-up, thrift store chic of the non-famous members of Nirvana. Poster boys: Ryan Gosling and James Franco.
YEEZY Highly divisive Kanye West clothing brand. Not to be confused with wildly successful Adidas Yeezy Boost shoe line.
Z GENERATION STYLE Gen Z lifestyle codes applied to the business of fashion. The ideas of queuing for drops and renting clothes (à la Uber and Airbnb) rather than buying them, all part of a new and aspirant culture for a demographic born between 1995 and 2010 (2010!).
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