Anyone with money can acquire. What’s more interesting to me is when someone does something fantastic with limited resources. There is a popular school of thinking that equates style and refinement with big spending – a frustrating philosophy backed up by countless magazines, blogs and online influencers pushing the luxury agenda. The new Men’s Style section of The New York Times appears to be yet another one.
When I heard that the Times was going to introduce the new Men’s Style section, I was excited. My city newspaper was going to have a monthly section just for us. When I saw it, I quickly realized it wasn’t for “us.” It was for “them.”
Here’s the item and price inventory for the feature on suits:
- Lemaire wool/linen jacket ($990) and pants ($560);
- Prada poplin shirt: ($550);
- Richard James leather derbies ($650);
- Hermès crepe/cotton gabardine suit ($3,850);
- Acne Studios cotton shirt ($280);
It’s okay. You can fall to the floor laughing. I did, too. Here’s the rest…
- Zegna Couture silk/linen/wool jacket ($3,895) and pants ($1,500);
- Dries Van Noten wool jacket ($1,165) and pants ($730);
- Dries Van Noten silk shirt ($780);
- Marc Jacobs viscose/silk jacket ($1,975) and pants ($695);
- Marc Jacobs cotton/polyamide shirt ($495);
- Dior Homme silver necklace ($490);
- Ralph Lauren Black Label linen suit ($1,890);
- Alexander Wang tank top ($75);
- Hermès calfskin belt ($1,225);
- Issey Miyake wool/cotton/linen jacket ($1,625) and pants ($815);
- Sunspel cotton t-shirt ($90);
- Lanvin merino wool jacket ($2,390) and pants ($725);
- Bottega Veneta cotton/ramie satin jacket ($2,450) and pants ($830);
- Lanvin cashmere/viscose turtleneck ($890);
- Duckie Brown cotton/silk suit ($2,800);
- Sunspel polo shirt ($130);
- Brooks Brothers Red Fleece wool/cotton chambray jacket ($448 – actually reasonable) and pants ($200 – also reasonable);
- Salvatore Ferragamo cotton tank top ($650)
Okay, you can get up now.
Who the f%k is supposed to buy this? The average Times reader? It’s as if the editorial assignment was to alienate real men and target the content to the same billionaires that the Times exposed in its “Towers of Secrecy” series. Or maybe the objective was to bend over as far as possible for the advertisers who offered the biggest check. I can only speculate.
The incessant perpetuation of such head-to-toe luxury on this scale as the ultimate in style and validation is vulgar in the extreme and, in our current economic climate, a little tone deaf. I’m genuinely grateful for people like Tim Gunn, who reminds us that a stylish and discerning guy with real spending power can eschew high ticket snobbery and opt for $500 suits at Suitsupply (and look better than men who outspend him tenfold). I also admired Joan Rivers, who could afford to (and did) shop at Bergdorf Goodman, but also wore very chic jewelry and accessories from her own affordable QVC line (which was great for business, sure, but it was also something in which Rivers looked fabulous and took genuine pride.)
Last I heard, The New York Times was about journalism. Men’s Style appears to be another premium ticket catalog showcasing “aspirational” content that is unattainable by most of the men reading it. It’s not helpful. It’s not journalism. It’s luxury’s bitch.
Here’s the deal: A boring guy who blows $4,500 on a suit, $1,500 on a pair of shoes and $10,000 on a watch is still boring. He’s just a boring guy in a $16,000 outfit. Congratulations.
If the long-game plan for Men’s Style is to continue in this disappointing direction, I’ll pass.
PHOTO: Bon Duke for The New York Times