Every step forward comes with a look back.
When I started this site a couple years ago, it had always intended it to be a record of my own learning process, as I studied “the classics.” You see, back then it was my belief that menswear was just some sort of side hobby for me, and that down the line my interest in all this would really only manifest itself in my daily wardrobe, so I figured I should focus on the more staid side of menswear and hopefully one day I’d end up as the best dressed guy at some non-menswear related workplace. All this changed as I got further and further down this fully-canvased rabbit hole though, as the more conservative side of things no longer seemed applicable to my lifestyle. By the end of this week, I’ll have finished college, and started working full-time at a menswear brand, and yet now that “the real world” is here, I’ve never felt less interested in being a traditionalist.
Whereas I once thought that I’d have to fit into this box of wearing a suit everyday, I’m now faced with the prospect of being allowed to be more creative and free-form with my wardrobe. Basically, the rules and fundamentals that I spent so much time learning no longer seem to apply to my life, and so my interests are becoming more and more outlandish. While this idea of “unconventional classics” is exactly the aesthetic that brands such as Engineered Garments have been playing with for years, it does create a problem for classic sportswear brands whose focus has always been on traditional tailoring.
I’ve written about L.B.M. 1911 a couple times before (here and here), particularly on their casual sportcoats, which hit all of the marks for the late aughts menswear crowd who fawned over soft shoulders, patch pockets, and textured fabrics. L.B.M. was so attractive initially because of it’s affordability, therefore it was automatically marketed toward a younger set such as myself (full disclosure, I personally own four L.B.M. jackets and love them all), yet that audience is now thinking differently. Maybe they don’t have to wear a jacket to work everyday, so maybe they’re not obsessing over unstructured sportcoats anymore. So, for a centenarian brand such as L.B.M. how do you keep a fickle audience interested in what you’re doing? The answer is you adapt. Fast.
When I walked into L.B.M.’s showroom this past month, I was struck immediately by a rack of jackets so colorful that the term bold would hardly do them justice. All in a row, the windowpanes, glen plaids, and fine checks reminded me more of an assortment of eighties wallpapers than of sportcoats, but individually the jackets were beautiful. They’re the sort of thing I imagine David Hockney would wear if he went to Pitti Uomo, full of unexpected color combinations and checks of all sizes. From there, I noticed that this year L.B.M.’s design team decided to add a liberal dose of paisleys to the collection, tossing it under the collars of many of their jackets. Now, I for one, advise against popping the collar on your sportcoat, but L.B.M. has clearly picked up on this trend, and whether you like it or not, at least they know how to play to their audience audience. On my way out of the showroom, a sub-collection of blue jackets caught my eye, and really if there was anything that I would immediately run out and buy from this showing it would be an aquamarine sportcoat from this set. It’s a design approach that seemed to have been stolen from a denim brand – stick with blue, but run it off in as many different “washes” as possible. I spotted sea-foams, deep navies, and faded pale blues, each with it’s own unique texture and subtle detailing. For L.B.M. this collection is about keeping up, but not them keeping up with us, rather us keeping up with them.