One of menswear's dirty secrets is that even the most heralded designers flame out quick. Around their fourth season most of these dudes hit a wall. I'm not going to name names because I still want to get invited to parties and eat artisanal sliders and shit, but, truthfully, there's really only so much you can do with men's clothing. So, if you don't mind, I'd appreciate it if you'd indulge me in the following calculated generalities. Assuming you're not designing gear that could serve as the wardrobe for a Vin Diesel movie set in space, reinventing the wheel season after season gets extremely fucking difficult. Eventually people start saying things like, "[insert designer's name here] continues to do what he does," which is code for like, so totes over it. For those of our ranks who keep things grounded in the traditional canon of dudes getting dressed, walking the tightrope of too much change vs. too little change is the designer's greatest challenge. Plummeting to one's death is commonplace. Unlike, say, Rick Ross, being rich forever is not how menswear works. Which brings us to Ian Velardi because you already know all this bullshit was leading up to some kind of exception to the rule.

Ian's F/W 13 collection is his fifth by my count. That's five collections worth talking about—roughly five more than the various other designers/brands trying to occupy the same lane. While he didn't invent the dressed up, dressed down look by any stretch of the imagination, I would be lying if I said he didn't OWN it. Take a quick breeze through his F/W 13 lookbook and you'll see exactly what I mean. There's not a single designer better representing the middle of the Venn diagram where luxe and casual intersect. And, assuming you pay any attention to menswear (which you obviously do), that's exactly where we're at these days. Interestingly enough, Ian's not trying to land there. The reason his clothes make sense is because that's just who he is. You may not know Ian personally, but take it from me, dude embodies everything about this. A lesser critic than myself would tell you he is decidedly "about that life." IAN VELARDI IS ABOUT THAT LIFE.