Last night, New York's #menswear enthusiasts flocked from their various 9-to-5's and blogging stations to DUMBO, Brooklyn, quivering with anticipation for the Fuck Yeah Menswear book launch—menswear's coming out party.
In preparation, rap lyric puns were memorized and rehearsed, Italian pronunciations were Googled, and non-smokers bought packs of cigarettes to ensure that they wouldn't miss a moment of the evening at powerHouse Arena. This was, after all, a momentous moment in #menswear. The culmination of countless reblogs, street style shots, and hours spent agonizing over the perfect cuff. A book deal, son! And whether members of the crowd identified as prep, sprezz, heritage, goth ninja, or hypebeast, the question on everyone's mind was: Is satire the highest form of legitimacy?
Since 2010, the blog Fuck Yeah Menswear has occupied a strange position in the world of men's fashion. It was an anonymous pursuit that simultaneously celebrated and decimated all things menswear with hyper-referential pseudo rap lyrics in the form of verse. It seems unlikely that something so insidery could gain mass appeal, but with each post the cult grew. And it wasn't just #menswear nerds. The New Yorker took notice. GQ interviewed the anonymous "author." And eventually, about a year ago the posts stopped and a book deal was announced. Next came the big reveal—it was Kevin Burrows and Lawrence Schlossman, two dudes who love menswear, hip-hop, and sporting impeccably groomed beards.
Last night, a svelte looking Michael Williams, the man behind A Continuous Lean, the Godfather of men's style blogging, sat down with the authors for a Q&A to try and make sense of it all.
Fuck Yeah Menswear is satirizing and parodying the community that it defined
The lights dimmed and the slideshow began. A giant pair of double monk shoes appeared on the bigscreen and someone in the crowd audibly gasped. Gasped. A pair of double monks. That's the crowd we're dealing with. For some of the guys in attendance, it was like meeting Santa Clause, except Santa was here to tell you what you want for Christmas, and then make fun of you for it.
The question of the F-bomb came up. "Papa Williams" only said "fuck" twice during the Q&A. He also said "shit" once. The two authors on the other hand, discussed why they wanted the word uncensored on the cover, even if it meant that their grandmothers would never buy a copy. The "fuck" diatribe ended when Lawrence, true to blog form, quoted a declarative rap lyric: "Ain't no half steppin.'" The internet was very quickly becoming real life. And maybe that's why fashion illustrator Richard Haines had to dip out early.
The Q&A produced sound bytes that would be right at home on FYMW the blog: "Riff on Tumblr drafts." "Library of Congress shit." "What we tear down we also celebrate." Afterwards, as the dapper crowd swelled to fill the industrio-chic space (which really helped everyone's clothes to pop), the two authors enthusiastically signed books, answered questions, awkwardly high-fived street style snapper Tommy Ton, and posed for pictures with fans. Yes, fans.
In between signatures, Kevin, who made the teaser videos, and shot photos and made illustrations for the book, mused on being the more talented one, saying "It feels normal for the two of us." But as for Lawrence getting all the credit? "He's loud. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. And the loud blogger gets the free samples."
If you're 100% sincere about this shit then you really need to look at your life
There are some serious questions to be asked here. How does a satirical entity rise to the top of the very mountain it's mocking? What does it mean for men's fashion that a joke blog is shaping the language and leading the conversation? Why was there no food at the event? Lawrence shouted us down by stating that "Fuck Yeah Menswear almost precedes this real idea of menswear on the internet. It's satirizing and parodying the community that it defined, which makes no sense, and is once again that image of the snake eating its tail." A cruel reminder about the food, or lack there of. But Lawrence's explanation was poignant. As Elliot Aronow, style columnist for Playboy, remarked,"If you're 100% sincere about this shit then you really need to look at your life."
The vibe of the party felt very much like the Bar Mitzvah of the Internet-born phenomenon of #menswear. From a blog to a book, today was the day #menswear became a very oddly-dressed but fully-grown man. The various arbiters of #menswear milled about bro-hugging giddily, as OG's of the game Nick Wooster, Mimi Fukuyoshi, and Ali of A Noble Savage looked on like proud kvelling parents. It was hard not to get caught up in the collective joy—that is, until a blogger quipped that the cheap wine in his plastic cup was "Good, not too dry." That was a bubble burster, and a reminder of how out-of-the-way DUMBO is. Especially since, as GQ's social media manager Nate Erickson observed, "We shouldn't all be in the same room together. Cause you know, if something happened, who would Tumblr about this?"
Fuck Yeah expensed cab.