If someone wrote about fashion shows in the way good writers tackle sports or popular culture, they could attract literally tens of readers.
In September of this year, while I was living in the city, London hosted its fashion week, and, as far as I can tell, this had no bearing on my life whatsoever. There was a time when I might have cared, might even have gone through the various shows and picked out looks that I liked and, god help me, write about them, but even then it was less aspirational and more “This is something that should interest me.”
Except it doesn’t. At all.
When I was 14 I went to the Vancouver Auto Show. Even in the early 90’s when car shows were depressing I remember feeling a sense of wonder at these machines that, not a decade later, I would come to hate. I read car magazines. I understood, to a degree, what cars did. And going to a car show or, probably better, looking at pictures of the bigger shows like Detroit and Tokyo, was an important part in my understanding and finally appreciation of cars.
I don’t think I know a single man who feels that way about fashion shows. And I know some very fashion-conscious men, men who read blogs or even write them, men that care about what they wear and where they buy it and even on occasion how it’s made. But I’ve never been around a group of men anywhere at anytime and had one of them reference in any way a menswear show. Ever.
Which raises the question (but does not beg - it does NOT beg - it never, ever begs): why are menswear shows, at a time when it seems the male awareness level of style has reached a high not seen since Beau Brummell's times, so completely irrelevant to almost all men?
It’s easy to think that, for the vast majority of men, money must be an issue - fashion shows are seen largely as a parade of things most men could never afford. But then you wouldn’t sell many issues of Motor Trend if every cover shouted about the Top 20 Most Affordable Cars. Even on GQ the fashion shows are buried deep at the bottom of the style page, a reluctant provision to their existence; by far the most interesting part of GQ’s fashion show coverage is its street-style sections, including the still legendary Yo, Your “Street Style” is Buggin’.
I haven’t looked at a runway show in years, partly because I stopped writing about style, partly because I couldn’t tell why I would bother, and, even more partly, by which I mean more and not less of the parts, I couldn’t find a site that had them viewable by anything other than a slideshow designed by sadists playing with Flash the way a young child plays with the wings of a fly. Do fashion shows not want us to look at them? Why are the pictures organized so poorly? Why is the complete show view always in 24x36 thumbnails? Why is nothing given any context other than a blurb about the existential crisis at the heart of cotton?
I think if someone took it upon themselves to create a fashion show site organized like Devour or The Verge, that men would continue to ignore it but eventually become curious, curious enough to wonder why an entire industry seems to have developed so close to them without needing their interest or wanting their concern. I think if someone wrote about fashion shows the way Grantland writers tackle sports or popular culture that such a person could attract literally tens of readers, and maybe, just maybe, draw us into contact with this thing, this preening mass of limbs and double-breasted blazers, that does its best to ignore us.
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