2009: Built To Last
“The popularity of ‘Americana’ clothing and brands arose from the convergence of a few different movements. Part of this was a knee-jerk away from anything related to the ‘metrosexual’ trend. Another factor was the terrible economic situation that made people take refuge in the tried and true, the rugged and tough. Finally, work wear was trending and becoming popular. All of these factors came together to push something from a niche look into the mainstream.” —Michael Williams, A Continuous Lean
THE NEW UNIFORM
Made in America becomes more than a business model.
In 2009, with an economic recession in full effect, men’s style moved forward by looking back. American-made brands were touted by bloggers who spurred other men to “buy less, but buy better.” Sure, U.S.-produced goods were pricier, but the notion of patriotism via commerce, combined with the idea of paying more for a quality product, resonated with the average guy looking to step up his style game.
Streetwear fans soon took notice, and traded in their A.P.C. jeans and Nike sneakers for Levi’s 501s and Red Wing boots. Manufacturers like Gitman, Horween, Vibram, and Cone Mills gained fashion cred overnight. Northeastern shoe companies like Alden and Quoddy that had been churning out the same product for years were enlisted to make special versions for small brands like 3Sixteen and retailers like J. Crew.
Filson briefcases and luggage became the de facto accessory for the modern Americana enthusiast, and as dudes racked up on domestically produced denim and flannel, they also let their beards grow out. Guys began to channel Paul Bunyan more than Paul Newman as the “urban lumberjack” look gained prominence.
Americana-inspired cult brands such as Engineered Garments, Woolrich Woolen Mills, and Mark McNairy were sought out by fashionable insiders and rappers like Drake. The Made in America label became a membership badge for cool guys. Hype and limited runs were replaced by authenticity and “investment pieces.” Many of the products were built to last, but critics insist the trend isn’t. Time will tell. —Jian DeLeon
NIKE AIR YEEZY
Kanye gets a signature shoe.
Prior to 2009, Nike only designed products for athletes. That was the way it defined itself since its early days as Blue Ribbon Sports. That’s why the Kanye West-designed Air Yeezy was so significant. Before the Yeezy, Nike had never made a signature shoe for a non-athlete. Considering how fast they disappeared from shelves, Nike made the correct decision. Again. —Russ Bengtson