How exactly do you classify 2013 as the best year in men's style? How can you compare years in style objectively anyway? It's a subjective claim with little to no substantial proof, right? Probably, but you would be hard-pressed to look back and argue that men's style has seen as much growth in design, worldly influence, and the achievement of new heights of individuality in the past year.
If you look back at the most popular trends of 2011 and 2012, they were, how can we say this nicely...uninspiring. They were, well, trends. Short-lived ones. Sure, it's easy to say that about dust in the wind, but the niche-ness of these fads show that the general arena of men's style had little to no influence on real world style. The things we enjoyed were only relished for the moment by a few of us. And while that's true for fans of men's style year in and year out, 2013 was the moment when our typically overlooked world exploded. The amount of eyes on us increased, the number of participants skyrocketed, and the benefits of this growth were insane. At times, it was hard to keep up. But the ride was unbelievable, and 2013 changed any notion that men's style is boring, regular, or second to any.
Fuck those rules and those enforcers that think one way is the right way because there is no right way anymore.
This year saw a new kind of individuality—one that stems from growth in personal expansion. Growth that was essentially established by rules that were broken, once believed to be scripture to a man's sartorial survival. If you didn't abide by these rules in years past, you were toast on the blogs/forums/social media sites. Here's the the proper length and width of a tie. This is the right amount of cuff on a roll. Don't you dare wear a T-shirt, ever. No visible shirts under your button down. Add some
color, or else!
But if 2011 and 2012 were the years that guys started caring about and learning the rules about self-presentation, 2013 was the time that individuality mattered. Rule-breakers were heralded and proliferated, because we finally realized that those blog/forum/social media trolls are stuck in their ways, refusing to accept the fact that actual style is about individual preference and development. There is no longer an outright judge with gavel in our community. Fuck those rules and those enforcers that think one way is the right way because there is no right way anymore. "Clothes get weirder" was pretty much the anthem of 2013. Brand and individuals followed this non-creed creed, and it was glorious.
And while swaggerjacking was at an all-time high with parodies of parodies of parodies popping up, more brands have been able to create their own lane in an especially fickle industry. Been Trill seemingly trolled the entire world of streetwear by coming up on the Internet and then releasing their once-exclusive gear at mall giant PacSun. The brand made its the high-demand goods more accessible, while doing some serious collabs with Hood by Air and SSUR that had kids making struggle-face emojis on streetwear forums worldwide. It fluxed the demand for the brand, covering the spectrum of supply and demand in an unprecedented manner.
"Clothes get weirder" was pretty much the anthem of 2013.
But it wasn't just new kids on the block who were tearing down walls. A.P.C. has always been a favorite of stylish dudes, but its collaboration with Kanye did exactly what a collaboration is supposed to do. All of a sudden, kids who never owned a pair of Petit Standards were talking about Jean Touitou's time at Kenzo.
And several brands that already had an agenda executed their plans flawlessly in 2013, making both consumers and critics go nuts. Public School released quite possibly two of the coldest collections to date, which coincided with critical praise that came in the form of awards and accolades. And it's not just another flash-in-the-pan brand, either. The label has the ability to adjust and tweak its offerings based on changing tastes and directions, much like past CFDA Swarovski Menswear Designer of the Year winners Robert Geller and Phillip Lim. How will Public School and others adjust and keep thriving? That's what 2014 is for.
Hip-hop's influence on style in 2013 was astronomical. We've been witnessing this climb over the years until it finally came to an apex. Now we can basically look at our favorite rappers to inspire to wear anything from obscure, high end goods from Saint Laurent, Maison Martin Margiela or Dries van Noten to the tie-dye bucket hat and white tee from your local bodega you get free with the purchase of a pack of Swishers.
And the best part about hip-hop's style evolution was that, in 2013, there was no blanket form of "hip-hop style." So many rappers developed their own unique style this past year, and high-fashion noticed. Rappers who cared took the time to participate in some of the more style-related events of the year, like walking the runway at New York Fashion Week or wearing emerging designers that only people who really cared about this shit were into. And they were honest to why they wore such obscure, prestigious, and well-crafted designers. As Pusha T put it, "I'm in it for the stunt." And the stunt was definitely real this year.
And then there's Kanye West. Whether you love him, hate him, or are just confused, Kanye's influence over the current zeitgeist carried over into men's style in a manner unprecedented since David Bowie brought glam to the mainstream. Kanye's fantastic style-related rants not only brought things like "leather jogging pants" to the forefront of pop culture's conversation, but they also made people realize that creativity and men's style are one and the same.
There has never been, and may never be, another person in hip-hop whose style is more influential than Kanye West. And we saw him in full force in 2013. The strip tease may have started a long time ago, but we got full frontal this year. Never has our industry had such a passionate endorsement. Never has our little world been put at the forefront of news outlets, talk shows and comedy bits for all to engage with and explore. This is a gift and a curse because, let's face it, everyone and their mother wanna be like Ye, but it's made people think more consciously about clothing and just how important it actually is to people. Especially someone as high-profile and influential as Kanye.
Obviously, the debate whether this was the best year in men's style ever can go on and on. This year's trends will die. The best brands may fade to obscurity like the rest. Individuality may be taken to new depths. And 2013 will no longer seem like the best year of style anymore. And you know what? That's a good thing.
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