We’re at a point where many of the classic brands are having to make a decision. Make moves forward, or make a stand with their tried and true methods. This applies to all aspecting of the brand–from design to marketing, store visuals to company culture. While the last few years have famously marked a renaissance in menswear, stimulated by an obsession with heritage, there’s that magical question that’s inseparable from the business of the industry: Now what?
You cut your teeth on Barbour and Boglioli, but now you’ve worked Balmain into your lexicon– And to sprinkle salt on the wounds of the tired tailors you want to talk about the brilliance of Umit Benan’s graffiti artists and his surprise unmasking that capped the show off? You might as well go tweet about DSquared (I don’t know how to properly spell DSquared because I don’t care about DSquared) for V Man, blogger.
So why is there a photo of Brunello Cucinelli at the top of this post? It’s because he’s the man leading the “old school” brand I’m most interested to watch in the next year or two. The disenchantment that was flung onto men’s runway shows when I first started blogging has certainly set sights on Pitti Uomo, bastion of anti-fashion, but Cucinelli came out of Player’s Ball 83 above all others. Why? Because he innovated. While most eyes were blinded by the vanity of Manuel Vanni and Luca Rubinacci, those with their heads down got a glimpse of Cucinelli’s down-filled zip perfecto vests, lightweight baseball jackets layered in every which way (Brunello sporting his over a DB suit in the photo above), and nylon overshirts.
This was a big step for a brand that had seemed awfully comfortable with sticking to their fail safe, fabric focused collection. The new product seemed right at home with the staple grey cashmere down vests and washed denim shirts us bloggers grew to love them for. I’m not ready to call Cucinelli an innovator just yet, with exactly two tweets to their name (hey, that’s still doubling up Kiton, right?) and an e-commerce site that’s about as modern as a PT Cruiser. This is only the beginning for them.
As our desire to see and learn something new is swept up by the more theatrical likes of Benan and Browne (likely for the next few years), I’ll be watching the battle for relevancy ensue amongst the big boys of Italian tailored clothing. The recent return of focus to understanding real quality in men’s clothing has left us with many brands that stake their claim on the same thing. With this crowded marketplace, quality seems like it can no longer be a brand’s singular stance. So who will be the brand that emerges and straightens us out with the next wave of timeless? That’s the question they’re all fighting to answer.