If 2013 was the year men finally established personal style, what's to come in 2014?
For starters, we’re looking at a completely new landscape from when men’s style blogging took off a few short years ago. An endless amount of brands are putting out niche designs for people to create a unique look. The style risks are, well, riskier. And ace or fail, guys are making moves outside of the boundaries of acceptance. 2013 was the best year in men's style and 2014 is steadily heading for glory too. A lot of it has to do with the world wide web, where we so eagerly seek sartorial knowledge.
Three years ago, personal style blogs like A Continuous Lean, Sartorially Inclined and Street Etiquette ruled menswear, and the individuals behind these platforms were the dominant voice. You could go to seven different blogs that focused on particular niches; ones you may have admired from afar and ones you felt fit your personality. Prep. Streetwear. Americana. Trad. Midwest Style. L.A. style. Texas style. Midget style. Whatever your flavor of the month might be. Whatever you wanted your personal sense of style to be. You knew which ones would provide the most in-depth style breakdown based on that blogger’s singular expertise.
From the blog, we learned what to wear. How to wear it. Put on this over that. Try to get this piece to fit like this. It was very possible to swaggerjack an entire look and make it your own and go about your day as if you assembled it on your own. This was okay to the reader. This was okay for a lot of people because this was the first time they had specialized experts speaking directly to them instead of a magazine catering to a much wider audience. Especially if a reader was looking to immerse themselves into a certain sense of style. What they didn't realize at the time is that this wasn't necessarily "personal" style. It was someone else's personal style thrust upon their readers, convincing them it was the way to go.
Now, as times and the style landscape has changed, some of those blogs that ran the gamut just a few years ago have moved on to bigger and better things. In reality, the blog was just a means to an end. Lawrence Schlossman of Sartorially Inc. is now the EIC of Four Pins. Josh Kissi and Travis Gumbs are getting paid sponsorships, flying to exotic lands and giving college lectures on the empire they've created. The hobby that was once spurred simply by a love for clothing has now turned into a profession.
And others have been able to make their personal style blog their full-time job. Blogs like ACL Unabashedly Prep and The Style Blogger literally make a living pushing the limits of their own style to try and get you to do the same with yours. And they've done it very successfully for years by knowing their audiences' needs and helping them figure it out. And they will continue to thrive because of what they've established and the trust they've earned over the years. But once a guy can determine his own thoughts on what fits his individual style and what doesn't, does he still need these blogs? And then what? Does a new breed of visitors who don't know a M-65 from a fishtail but want to move away from Izod shirts and jorts replace these former readers?
Maybe. But the very notion that brought these blogs success might also be their plight. That audience that began their sartorial journey looking for specific advice could be changing due to the evolution of men's style. These days, being stylish calls for a progression to the point that one's style can't be pigeonholed or tagged. A guy's personal style is, ideally, personal. And not lifted from outfit breakdowns or suggestions from others. Now, other mediums besides blogs are democratizing the notion of being unique, and showing this off.
Tumblr and Instagram are the social media equivalent to fast fashion when it comes to personal style blogging. With the snap of an iPhone or the reblog of someone else’s shit, you can become a fashion icon without much effort. This in and of itself diminishes the work of those personal style blogs whose main purpose is to convince people their opinion is the end all be all of that particular style.
A few years ago, Tumblr realized the clout personal style bloggers had over their readership, so they hired some to work for them during NYFW. Now, some of those very same personal style bloggers are almost exclusively on social media and rarely documenting their own personal style on their blogs. Sartorially Inclined. You Have Broken the Internet. Even Street Etiquette share more of their stylish endeavors through Tumblr and Instagram. Blogs who were always at the top of "Best of..." lists for men's style barely update their platforms because the money and influence just isn't there anymore. And if you have recently started a personal style blog within the last, say, year and a half, success probably came from some sort of gimmicky shtick, a la Menswear Dog.
Style is subjective. YOU either have it, are aspiring to have it, or you don’t give a shit. A blog can't provide a simple and absolute solution. Shit, Complex can't help you unless you have pre-conceived convictions of what you’re looking for, and are willing to mix it up and not follow a standard someone else has set. A lot of the times, that's exactly what some personal style blogs try and do. You can choose to listen and be a part of a fan club or you can make your own lane and take that risk. That’s the risk that ultimately sets you apart from the rest.