In a large tent in Melbourne’s City Square, three dapper gentlemen were sitting down to a casual chat as if the flurry of MSFW (Melbourne fashion week) wasn’t going on around them. They were Theo Poulakis, co-founder of Harrold’s menswear; Richard Nylon, well-known Melbourne milliner; and our own Daniel P Dykes of Fashionising.com. The panel discussion, revolving around men’s fashion, was hosted by the National Gallery of Victoria to compliment their exhibition currently in residence, ManStyle.
If you couldn’t make it on the day to take in the discussions that spanned everything from men’s trends to bespoke shoes to what to wear on an important date, here’s a little summary to fill you in. Namely, 5 of the key points to take away from the day. Read on.
The suit can transform a man.
That sounds obvious, I know. It’s the why that was important.
When asked about the importance of the suit, all three panelists agreed that it can’t be understated. A suit transforms a man. So much so that, as Richard Nylon pointed out, we can refer to business men as ‘suits’ – a rare example where a person becomes, if only by name, what they wear. Daniel P Dykes explains the transformative power of the suit as key for men who want to dress “not for where they are now, but where they want to be”.
Thus a man should never underestimate the importance of a great suit.
With men’s trends, the wheel grinds more slowly. But it’s changing.
This should come as no surprise, but it’s always an interesting discussion none the less. Where women’s fashion moves in cycles of only a few seasons, a men’s fashion trend generally last for years – Daniel P Dykes highlighted that it’s generally as short as a decade and can last anywhere as long as forty years. Thus for men it’s more important than ever to invest wisely in quality pieces that last.
But look for a change in the pace of men’s fashion trends: the rise of the Far East and its influence upon the European fashion houses not only means there’s a customer demanding quicker men’s fashion, but there are companies who are going to be eager to satisfy them.
Bespoke is the ultimate luxury.
The retail scene, and the internet in particular, is full of “custom-made” fashion (made to measure shirts, for instance). But true bespoke, a “bastardised term” in Theo Poulakis’ words, is the ultimate in luxury. Bespoke means something is made just for you, in all aspects. It’s certainly not an affordable luxury; but it’s one any sartorial male should aspire to.
A pocket square is an accessory for every man.
Even the most disinterested male can add a sudden flair in seconds by merely adding a pocket handkerchief. It’s the accessory even “the most reserved man can indulge in”, according to Richard Nylon, and all three panelists agreed. Whether block coloured, patterned, neatly folded or haphazardly flowering from one’s pocket, it’s a classic accessory that goes beyond fads.
Media has changed fashion.
Media makes fashion old quickly; a sentiment expressed by Tom Ford and echoed by our panelists. We’re lacking the immediacy we desire from a system of runways that keeps items out of our reach for months to come, Daniel P Dykes explained.
For Theo Poulakis keeping custom thriving at Harold’s doesn’t come down to Internet presence or engaging in new media. Instead it comes down to personal service, absolute knowledge and picking stock that isn’t readily available online. But that philosophy won’t apply to everyone. While the Internet has changed fashion it’s also, in Daniel’s words, the place to have “the honest conversation”. The concept of showing at fashion weeks 6 months before product hits stores may need reviewing, but new media has plenty to offer in the way of pushing fashion forwards.
If you want to check out the ManStyle Exhibition, you can head here for more info.