I remember the days when my father, not only a hard working distressed jeans and t-shirt guy, but a proof keeper at the local mechanic’s shop, went on a spending spree. That time was golden.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that with supply more competitive than ever and demand online, where there are more than enough designer names to go around, everyone can afford to look the part. The names with the big spenders are Italian fashion labels like Gucci and Armani who’ve brushed up on the tricked out chic for princely amounts of cash. Topman is another British menswear staple, newer to the designer stable but making a push into the big high streetwear investments with high returns.
The key player here is a name known as G-Star Raw, a recently formulated “superstore” in the UK by co- linkage between G-Star Raw & its forebear Havaianas. Originally begun as a men’s only fashion line in the early 2000s, recently premiering in their own dedicated retail store, G-Star Raw has went from strength to strength on the high street with a “brand first” approach promoting their line as much for its style and quality as its unique selling proposition. Prior to “brand first”, the co-unknown mixed arms team had been marketing exclusively to women, hence their “sold in exclusive to Havaianas” placement on the High Street of Walsall, and in Hyndburn and Brighton. That worked, so when the Havaianas co-opers took over, it was more or less a done deal, and with applauds from the design houses this was the end of that.
That leaves open the larger question, how effective could a brand really be if it couldn’t exercise some control over its outlet shops and franchisees? I guess you can ask the same question of the Costa andornega brands too. Without a doubt, there’s something funny about the way in which some of the tin-suit manufacturers have handled the promotions and sales of their products in UK. In both instances these companies initially started out with great PR, mind-boggling glossy campaigns, some of which were done quite cleverly, only to be parried with equally attractive tactics with the high street really switched on. So what do these companies do? They limit their focus to a handful of premium retailers and franchisees, largely based on who they know or meet socially and flatter their known position. These include ASOS, Selfridges, and New Look, with H&M on the high street, and Vince Camuto, Boutique and Urban Outfitters in the arms of the consumer.
It’s working. According to figures presented last month in the UK, the number of discerning male shoppers is growing at a much more shall faster rate than any other type of buyer (diary sales of high street brands are also up, but this is another story!!). The sales of stylist touched 17 million, a figure that accounts for two fifths of the whole of the value of designer goods sold, according to measurement of UK retail sales. All this despite the fact that access to finance is considerably decreased, with consumer confidence decreasing, according to the survey. What happened?
There are a couple of possible explanations for this shift. The first is that men, unlike women, are more compliant when it comes to spending and as such are more willingly embracing a brand that appeals to their sense of fashion and style. Secondly, more men are wanting to find clothes that fit their style at the same time, without having to spend out of the box. All this means that the super fedora is a great way for the average high street jockey to keep his or her look, with the hope that getting a designer label on the cloth that hangs from their tweed hat isn’t too tacky.
So the super fedora stays put, despite a lack of official parameters on how to define its progression through fashion ascends. It remains a point of prestige among fashion chaff, and an item that BDG went to frequently over the years. On a aesthetic note, there’s a feeling that once you have branded the item its fit into a super-sized air space. Like when you buy a pair of Nike’s typically very tight, very high kicks, they are outfitted with a corset, so they look bigger and trimmer than normal.