Men’s fashion, rather bizarrely, is a loaded term – even in men’s fashion magazines. Women’s fashion magazines are called just that. Ours are called style magazines.
It’s true that Esquire is not strictly a fashion magazine. We’re a general interest men’s title with a strong fashion element, and yet still we’re sometimes shy of saying so, lest it should frighten anyone off. Who, exactly, I’ve no idea, but you can’t be too careful in this business. Or rather, you absolutely can be too careful, and most publications are – which is why they’re so dull.
I, too, have my tedious moments. (Oh, you’ve noticed.) As a result, at Esquire we frequently go with “style”, even though that’s not the same thing at all as fashion. It’s a nonsense, and we do it deliberately. Silly us. But why? Why are we scared to call a spade a spade, and a purple corduroy blouson a purple corduroy blouson? (Well, we’re not – see page 182 – but others are.)
This fear of the word “fashion” is evident in male conversation, too. Plenty of us will admit to an interest in style, even a slavish devotion to it. That comes from Britain’s distinguished history as a mecca for men’s tailoring, and also as the world’s most fertile breeding ground for youth cults and style tribes. Maybe you were once a mod, or a punk, or a soul boy, or a goth, or a casual or a junglist. Unless you were a Young Conservative I bet you weren’t shy, back then, of talking to your fellow cultists about clothes.
But to admit to a fascination with fashion, either high or high-street, avant-garde or trad? That’s still seen, by some, as somehow unmanly, affected.
Well, sod it. This is the annual autumn/winter fashion issue of Esquire. It’s stylish. But its focus is on fashion: the buying and selling of clothes, the search for new designers, collections, trends, looks. It’s concerned with what was fashionable once, what is fashionable now and what will be fashionable soon.
What’s the difference between style and fashion? You know the answer to that, instinctively, even without thinking about it. Style is an attitude, a way of being in the world. In clothing, it’s about putting things together, about looking comfortable and confident in whatever you’re wearing, whether that’s a turban or a T-shirt. Fashion is the clothes that the labels present each season, and it is the look of the moment on the street, whether stylish or otherwise.
So, it’s August, and though you might not want to think about thick coats, heavy tweeds and woolly hats, it is the time when the autumn/winter clothes go into shops.
Here, we present the best of the new collections, so you can plan your winter wardrobe accordingly. You don’t have to buy these specific items – although we stand by our selection – but you can be inspired, or at least equipped with information, by the cuts, fabrics and prints here.
Right now, menswear is having a moment. Business is booming and media attention is focused more than ever on what stylish – and fashionable – men wear.
With that in mind, we asked Kevin Braddock to investigate another traditionally fraught topic: shopping. How do we men shop, in 2015? Are we still the hunter-gatherers of repute, making targeted strikes on department stores in search of one particular item that we already own in multiple? Or are we more whimsical than that now, idly browsing online, hoping to find something that’s different and interesting? You know, like ladies do in charity shops. Kevin’s piece says much about our attitudes to fashion and the fact that there has never been a better time to be a man who loves clothes.
Elsewhere, Teo van den Broeke profiles Kim Jones, the British menswear designer making waves at Louis Vuitton. Will Hersey undertakes a telling sartorial experiment by wearing exactly the same outfit to the office every day for a month. (Spoiler alert: he got bored even before we did.) The great Nick Logan looks back on the early days of The Face, the greatest style magazine ever. (That one really was a style magazine, but it was dead fashionable, too.) And Giorgio Armani, who celebrates 40 years in business this year, talks us through the development of his aesthetic. Armani’s words, and our photos of his clothes, demonstrate that when it comes to dressing well, some things change, some stay the same. That’s real style.
Finally, our cover star, as fashionable an actor as you could hope to find in 2015. Those boys, like me, who’ve been watching HBO’s Girls since the start will already be sold on Adam Driver. I’ve droned on in this magazine and other people’s magazines already about that show and my admiration for its creator, Lena Dunham. Driver is Girls’ standout performer. He plays a struggling actor, also called Adam. Intense, needy, soulful, magnificent, there’s something representative about Adam: he is the Benjamin Braddock of the millennial generation. (That’s Dustin Hoffman’s character in The Graduate, for those of you born since 1990.)
The Adam Driver that Sanjiv Bhattacharya interviewed in New York comes across as questing, committed, funny, and appealingly odd. Now he gets his big shot. He wasn’t allowed to tell us much about the new Star Wars, but we think we know he plays the bad guy. And he’s following that with a lead in Martin Scorsese’s next film, Silence. Driver is set to be a major star and I’ve a feeling he’s going to be a pleasure to watch.
Also, crucially for our purposes, as you can see from our pictures, he looks splendid in autumn/winter Gucci, and Dior Homme, and Giorgio Armani, and Ralph Lauren. A man who is not afraid of a bit of fashion, see? And why on Earth would he be? It’s only clothes.
Read Adam Driver's cover interview here.