Monday, 23 February 2009

AMERICANA WEEK

The internet offers up astounding things, and is currently ruining any pretense I have at a social life. This is mainly due to the collection of blogs on trad/americana/traditional workwear/general gentlemanly pursuits that abound, some of which I have taken the care to list to your right, under 'Men's Trad'. There's more than I've listed, and they pretty much all link to each other. But be warned, if you start down that path, it may never end.
It doesn't have to be men's of course, but the clothes are originally for your working chap, is the general idea.


I wanted to pull together all the different sorts of inspirations this leads to, or at least just flashes of them, rather than reproducing every single person's blog, because
it's their stuff, and because I'd go mad. I'm not marinated in the Filson bag, Junya Watanabe version of the yellow puffa, Wolverine boots, lumberjack check nuance, so I can't pretend to understand where every bit of this is coming from. But I know what I like.

I've written before on the timeliness of 'Trad'. I even have a tag! I think it's a bit more than a pale denim or acid wash trend, and of course it's about more than denim. It's better explained in the Newsweek article above, courtesy of A Continuous Lean
. Denim has a huge part in this, as one of the classic American workwear fabrics, but as yet it doesn't seem to me that a brand is fully capitalising on this in the way that, say, Woolrich have had a catwalk collection for AW09. Levi's certainly have their vintage ranges, and Lee Japan have done an 'archive' denim collection that will be in Europe in the autumn, and that's just skimming the surface. But that feels slightly different, as denim brands have always done this in various ways. Perhaps it's because denim brands have always built on their iconic heritage (those that have it, and those that make it up), whereas the bag, boot and outdoor brands are rediscovered classics and the manufacturers haven't consciously been using their heritage to sell to the hipsters as denim brands have. Not sure. (Also of course, I'm sure that the fans of this style would reject the hipster tag as utterly against the point).

Either way, this is a perfect storm of revitalised interest in America (Obama); a return to traditional values (we're all scared shitless and worried we've been on the wrong path); authenticity in manufacturing (we've realised we're blinding small children in our thirst for more cheap fashion. I'm exaggerating); authenticity in design (a storied heritage makes us feel in touch with our history, permanent, almost moral); durable and long-lasting quality (waste feels ecologically and ethically wrong) American crafts having a renaissance (from Navajo style blankets and beading, to Puritan crochet work and quilting, not to mention the workwear and Ivy League style that the Japanese designers have been quietly assimilating for years); and the fact that the stuff looks cool and lasts and wears well. It's almost like what we love about jeans has been transferred to all of these other things. There's even a blog where people post pictures of their worn bags, just like with jeans.


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