Ask Grailed (The Answers): August 21, 2019
Ask Grailed (The Answers): August 21, 2019
- Words Grailed Team
- Date August 21, 2019
At Grailed, we take great pride in our community's collective expertise. As a whole, no other user base online is as familiar with the state of fashion—or, at least, claims to be—as our audience. That said, no matter your level of authority, from time-to-time, everyone could use a bit of help. That’s where we come in. Our editorial team likes to think we know a thing or two about trends, styling and clothes in general given that it is quite literally our job to do so. To that end, we launched “Ask Grailed”, a weekly Q+A where our editorial staff answer your most pressing questions. Whether you’re unsure of what sneakers to cop or if a brand is (both literally and figuratively) the right fit, don’t fret—we’re here to help.
Our editorial team enjoyed reading and discussing your questions. After going through your questions in the last week, please find our responses to our favorite three questions below.
NOTE: Each response is written from the perspective of the attributed editor, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Grailed as a whole.
1. What are the must-read books and must-watch movies for someone interested in fashion?
Beyond working at Grailed, I spend a lot of my free time discussing, researching and learning about the history of fashion. That said, considering how wide a topic it is, you may want to narrow your gaze. Consider what you're specifically interested in—streetwear, tailoring, runway—and go from there. Still, there are a few foundational resources that any person interested menswear—or fashion proper—should consider.
For those of you who actually read, Ametora is basically the bible around these parts. By noted menswear author W. David Marx, it documents the rise of Ivy and Americana within Japan, which inadvertently shaped menswear as a whole. For history buffs, Yves Saint Laurent by Alice Rawsthorn is as much a biography as it is a tale of a man who single-handedly shaped fashion in the 20th Century. If you’re interesting in turn of the century fashion, Champagne Supernova by Maureen Callahan is a while at times trashy fascinating look at the three characters who laid the foundation for our current fashion paradigm—Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs and Alexander Mcqueen. Lastly, any of Hedi Slimane’s photography books—the Berlin series in particular—are essential. Not only do they codify his world view and design aesthetic, each illuminates the references of one of the world’s foremost menswear designers. If you’re interested in coffee table books, which are not necessarily reading per se, any of the Rizzoli tomes are worth investing in, including Supreme, Rick Owens, A Bathing Ape etc.
Magazines: Though I’m not one for collecting magazines, a few happen to stand above the rest. Berlin-based 032c produces bi-annual issues that cover everything from blockchain to high fashion, and a 2018 issue dedicated to Helmut Lang is quite possibly the most interesting collection of essays and photographs on the designer to date. Apart from that, any of the Japanese based men’s periodicals are wonderful, Popeye and EYESCREAM in particular.
This is hard because, frankly, most fashion films are bad. At best they’re educational (if somewhat of a drag); at worst, they’re pretentious and insufferable. There are a few gems, however. The recent McQueen documentary is hauntingly beautiful, and well worth a viewing. The celebrated Dior and I offers an in-depth look at Raf Simons’ first Dior couture collection, and while somewhat boring shows how today’s marquee fashion designer operates. My personal favorite is Anti-Fashion, a cult ‘90s documentary that explores the Japanese takeover or Paris, the formation of the Antwerp Six and the rise of avant-gardism. Collectively, the movement, known as “anti-fashion”—hence the title—set the stage for 21st century contemporary clothing. Available for free online, it’s a must for anyone interested in taking a deep dive into capital-F Fashion.
-Asaf Rotman, Managing Editor
2. Any style advice for someone who likes the wide or cropped styles that look better on tall guys, but isn’t the “right” proportions to pull it off?
Much and more has been written about how fashion is often isolating for those that don’t fit into the average, “sample size.” While it’s true that those outside of a sample size (either by height or width) might not be able to wear things right off the rack, that definitely does not mean those men have to give up on attempting the fashion moves they want to make.
Before we get into specific style advice, it’s important that we outline a few truisms that should apply regardless of body type. First and foremost, your clothing should fit. Leg shapes and styles, cuts and silhouettes, those can change with the item or style you’re trying to pull off; that said, it’s always obvious when something doesn’t fit properly. This means that shoulder seams should sit comfortably at the shoulders; the crotch of your pants should sit at your natural waist whenever possible and the rise should be no higher than a mid-rise. It seems obvious, but when you’re willing to be a bit adventurous with proportion, you need to be even more vigilant to avoid looking like your clothing has swallowed you up, or shrunk-to-fit (and not in Levi’s 501-good way).
So, when it comes to wider legs and bigger outerwear, how do those who fall out the “tall and slim” stereotype pull this off? Let’s go from the ground up. While it might seem natural to cuff the bottom hem of larger pants for a cropped look (Dickies’ 874 work pants are a classic example), the fatter, rolled bottom hem may accentuate a shorter stature. Try to cut (or, if you don’t mind the extra effort, tailor) your trousers so that the leg remains wide but hits the length you’re looking for—cuff-free. On the legs themselves, avoid cargo pockets if possible. While we’re all for an interest in wide leg silhouettes on all guys, you should still try to keep things as streamlined as possible; with cargo pants widening the leg in an unnatural way, it might be a bit riskier when compared to pants without the added storage space. When it comes to the tops of pants, avoid pleats; while the the old-fashioned tailoring flourish has fluctuated in and out of trend, keeping things streamlined hasn’t. A clean flat front waist is the best option for both aesthetics and value.
In terms of wearing baggier tops or outerwear, the goal is balance. When you’re going wider than usual on top, it means that your bottoms should aim to run true to size as much as possible. To define the waist from the top down, a tucked-in T-shirt should do the trick; this should have the added benefit of visually elongating your leg. If you’re not one to tuck in your shirts, it’s advised that your tops don’t fall further than the hipbone. Of course, shirting and outerwear fit is going to come down to the shoulders and sleeves; even if you’re trying your level best to make sure your fit is on point, if your sleeves are swallowing your hands, then your effort will be moot. No matter how your jacket’s body is built, always aim to keep a jacket sitting flat at the shoulders and a sleeve that terminates roughly just before or right in the middle of the large bone in the wrist. Keep in mind however, each body (and sometimes, each arm) can be slightly different, so this is as contingent on the person as it is the actual article of clothing. For outerwear, opt for high arm holes and pieces with button closures (like classic chore coats) or double-zips. Akin to a well-tailored suit jacket or blazer, keeping things more contained around the chest will have the visual effect of broadening the chest while narrowing the waist.
As for general advice, even though this pursuit means widening leg shapes or going for a bulkier top, there’s still power in streamlining the way you’re getting dressed. Fitt is paramount, but when you’re in peak experimentation mode, it’s always easier to opt for darker neutrals (black, gray or navy) to get a better idea of how something might sit.
All in all, it’s admirable—and more importantly, possible—to defy fashion conventions. The general maxim of style still stands true now matter what shape you’re looking to style: Try things on and see how they look; people always know in their gut when something doesn’t seem to measure up.
-Gregory Babcock, Editor in Chief
3. What is the most overrated brand currently?
This is a hard question, as defining what makes something “overrated” is highly subjective. In my personal opinion, it has little to do with price, availability or trendiness. Simply put, if you survey a brand in its entirety and feel that public perception is simply out of line with the actual product, than the brand is, by definition, overrated. Currently, as I see it, no brand quite fits the bill like Louis Vuitton. I know—that’s a wild statement. But hear me out for a second.
This is not a referendum on designer Virgil Abloh—who, for the record, I am a fan of and largely support. I fully understand the gravity of his appointment, and recognize it was a much needed step in the right direction. Nor is it an indictment on a nearly two century-old beacon of luxury. Rather, it is a reflection on the inherent demand for product that is not wildly different than what the house has been producing for the better part of a decade. Personally speaking, I’m a Kim Jones apologist—I’ve written about my fandom before, and think he is hands down one of the best designers in menswear today. Collaborations aside, according to industry sources Kim Jones’ Louis Vuitton sold incredibly well. But, by LVMH CEO & chairman Bernald Arnault’s own admission, Jones’ sales don’t hold a candle to Abloh’s.
Now, I understand that with a new designer there is often excitement and an ensuing sales boon. This, however, feels different. Currently, it seems that Abloh’s undisputed cultural standing and fans unfailing allegiance to everything he does is leading them to buy products simply because Abloh designed them. Considering the Louis Vuitton price point and the three collections Abloh has designed thus far, that seems, to me at least, ridiculous.
There are aspects of the brand I really admire. The Louis Vuitton tie-dye T-shirt, for instance, perfectly resonates with our current fashion moment; it’s an item so preposterously expensive and mundane that despite our better instincts we can’t help but agree is just...cool. Even from a fabric perspective, the Spring/Summer 2019 tie-dye leather lambskin trousers are, if you understand production, an engineering marvel. Only a house with a dedicated atelier and deep pockets (like Louis Vuitton) has the technical knowhow to make a product like that come to life. Yet, none of this feels wildly different than what Jones did while at Vuitton. The idea of buying a Louis Vuitton Keepall in red PVC simply because it was designed by Abloh—or, worse, just to resell–seems auspicious to say the least. While I will continue to admire Abloh’s work, and wish him success with Louis Vuitton, as it currently stands, the level of admiration feels unwarranted.
-Asaf Rotman, Managing Editor
Let’s be clear: A question like this is meant to stir up controversy as much as it is looking for advice on what brands to avoid. With that in mind, I’ll be blunt, my pick for the most overrated brand is Supreme, but let me explain myself.
In my experience writing for Dry Clean Only, I’ve spent hours of time covering, dissecting and following the moves of Supreme. That effort is embodied in the multitude of Supreme-adjacent articles stashed in the Dry Clean Only archive. Even with all that admiration and attention, scrolling through countless comment sections and social media posts, one commonality is clear: Hate it or love it, nothing is more controversial than Supreme.
I have a hard time judging whether a brand is “overrated” purely on comments alone, but the blend of issues I (and other users) have with Supreme as it stands now—a combination of impossible to buy, but highly saturated—has turned off old fans and walled off the potential for new ones simultaneously. Even in external—but adjacent—communities, it’s clear that last season’s Supreme offering, Spring/Summer 2019, wasn’t as strong as it could have been in the eyes of several fans (this writer included).
With Fall/Winter 2019 on the horizon, there might be hope for Supreme to reach a turning point. I know it feels all-too-easy to hate on Supreme, but I’m hoping that the Box Logo hasn’t strayed too far from its position at the top of streetwear pyramid. More importantly though, what do you think?
-Gregory Babcock, Editor in Chief