Thursday, December 31, 2009

Forget the noughties, here’s ten things I miss about the ’90s



Groups of lads walking about provincial towns in pastel coloured Ben Sherman shirts

Weekly house music clubs in the most remote of places absolutely crammed with gurning young women in shiny bras

Going into boozers and seeing that picture of dogs playing pool unironically displayed

Realising that London’s previously rough Hoxton is filling up with people who were bullied at school – and schools in the English countryside at that

The cockney accent

Chelsea being a mediocre, plodding outfit with no pretensions other than to flit between the Premier League and Division One

Finding these cool, new pubs where food is served on big, white plates and sausage and mash costs ten quid

Looking forward to The Face/Arena magazine coming out every month

A regular stream of new music genres radically different from anything that had come before

Remembering that the ’80s was riven by class warfare, mass unemployment and people so poor they had to forage for food on the rubbish dumps of Birkenhead

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ten noughties fashion things

The rise and rise of the bargain bin Beckham




If any look symbolized the look of the decade (up until 2007 at least), it was the “pre-distressed jeans, suit jacket and millennium mullet” outfit, championed by the likes of ES magazine, GQ and every single estate agent within the M25. See also black shirts with white ties, paint-covered flares and pointy Ali-Baba shoes, all worn by that most noughties of creations, the fun boy – a cross between an Italian anarchist and a Christmas tree.

Men (and boys) in black
It started in Manchester, spread to Liverpool and became the dominant look for the north west’s urchins throughout the 2000s. Key items: Lowe Alpine “Charlie Brown” hat, black The North Face jacket and Adidas PT trainers. Meanwhile in London, the capital’s youth (as opposed to posh yokels who’d moved to Hoxton) went for grey Nike jogging bottoms, rugby shirts and shaggy, mop-top haircuts. A real north/south divide.

The return of the three-piece suit
Go on, wear one, you look like Dolly Parton’s boss in Nine to Five.

Japanese fashion magazines



For years magazines got away with filling their sections with artsy “stories”, featuring models the fashion editor fancied in moody poses staring into the distance. Thankfully, the likes of the brilliant Free & Easy and to a lesser extent, Moncole, have worked out that men actually want to see the clothes they’re supposed to buying, which is why their spreads of beautifully arranged clobber are the way to showcase male fashion.

Being a cut price preppy
Thanks to Uniqlo, Banana Republic and Brooks Brothers turning up in London, (though sadly not anywhere else) anyone could get to look like Potsy in Happy Days. In 1999, a pair of Japanese selvedge jeans cost the price of a three bedroom flat in Hoxton, now, they’re about 50 quid. This is progress – though not for Evisu’s profit margins.

Arena closing



It was the magazine I’d read since 1990, the original style magazine for men, the bloke’s publication that took fashion seriously. I was lucky enough to hold a senior editorial post there from 2007-08, but early in 2009 it closed its Prada-branded doors for the last time, leaving the UK without a stylish men’s mag with national – rather than just London – appeal. A shame.

Laughing at people who take any notice of what GQ says
GQ is not a cool magazine. It is a well-produced, beautifully put-together monthly publication, but its fawning over celebrities (no matter how ridiculous) and its championing of some of the worst excesses of Beckham-ism makes it the magazine of the follower not the innovator. Stick to teaching us what shoes to wear with our suits, gentlemen.

The triumph of cool



From Don Draper in Mad Men to Jude Law in Alfie, from the terraces of Anfield to the heaving shelves of Oi Polloi, the pared-down look that emerged on both sides of the Atlantic in the late 1950s is still the benchmark on how to look cool. Whether you’re in Manchester or San Francisco, London or Tokyo, there’s a shop selling timeless clobber at a non- prohibitive price. Who knew that the clothes designed for Maltese waiters and New England fisherman could be so stylish?

Suit jacket-shaped jackets that aren’t suit jackets
Once big in Japan, now a standard all over the world, over the last few years, it’s been an essential in every well dressed chap’s wardrobe.

The Albam Fisherman’s jacket



The Patrick cagoule of the 2000s. Much imitated, never bettered. The fact that they’ve ceased production just ups is collectability.