Recently, I realised that I hadn’t bought a men’s lifestyle magazine in an age. As an impressionable teenager, there was always at least 1912318 in my bag, and I only read the fashion section. Now, as a wiser boy-man hybrid, I forget the fashion section and go for the features. Yes, my interests have grown, but it’s more than that: I avoid the fashion section.
It’s part boredom, part loathing. Not only does every fashion section in every mainstream men’s magazine feel the same to read (minus the odd exception like Vogue Hommes Japan), they combine to create a rhetoric which sits at odds with an essential attribute of journalism, and also with my reasons for loving fashion in the first place.
I’m talking about the prescriptive tone which underscores the ‘Guides’, ‘Rulebooks’ and ‘Manuals’ of men’s magazines, which rams an archetypal ideal of what is and what is not to be a well dressed man down the reader’s throat. ‘Never wear shorts more than an inch above the knee…never carry a man bag…never wear a short sleeve shirt’ (paraphrased from some of the most recent issues of one of the biggest men’s magazines. Let’s call it Gormless Quandry).
To me, an essential attribute of journalism is that it reports on things I, as a reader, am unaware of, or gives me insight into an alternative outlook on things that I am aware of. Whether it’s politics, fashion, music or sport, I don’t pay £4.00 to read the same BS month in, month out.
This is where, in my opinion, mainstream men’s fashion journalism has gone wrong. Its journalists choose not to report on the designers which challenge and refresh, or the explorers of the sartorially less trodden road. They choose not to sew a view of menswear which reflects its progressive and diverse existence. Rather, they choose to regurgitate and recycle an uninspiring, threadbare and flaccid view of menswear, which is as relevant as an article on health which champions the eating of fruit.
In doing so, they risk causing the reader to forget how to explore fashion as a way to express themselves, rather than as a way to sartorially bleat along with the rest of the herd.
I sound like I’m going to shred the clothes and skin the pets of all those who work at the ominous sounding magazines. No. I’m not against advice, or trend reporting. What I am against is inflexible rules in what is an essentially creative arena. Oh, and bad journalism. It’s simple: I don’t pick up a magazine to read what I’ve already read, especially in the same magazine, and I like what I do read to spur me to form my own ideas about the subject. I also have a pair of Gucci shorts, a pair of Peter Jensen shorts, and a pair of Carven shorts, which are all more than an inch above the knee (make that more than two), and I think that I look bloody good in them, especially with my man bag, you tossers.