We have conversations that achieve next to nothing.
We use words that would be utter gibberish to any outsider.
We measure value using the immeasurable scale of influence.
This is #menswear in 2014.
This is pure nonsense.
There was time not too long ago that #menswear was fueled by an insatiable quest for high quality items that our future children would one day inherit. The #menswear of today though, is fueled by kiddie pool deep conversations using a self-referential and often self-congratulatory language that those same future generations will find confounding at best and downright pathetic at worst.
At the heart of these dialogues lies the ego. Again, in the past, menswearian talking heads took great strides to justify their interest in clothing as something that served a larger purpose, or even spoke to a higher calling. To be interested in men's clothing almost seemed like a noble pursuit, as blogs racked up posts about niche craftsmen, the importance of domestic manufacturing, ethical production and socio-conscious designers.
Today, many of those same personalities (because, really, let's call them what they are) speak with a much simpler goal in mind: STATUS. Whether it's by bragging about whatever over-hyped "jawn" they received gratis in the mail, or not-so-subtly retweeting the celebrity who "blessed" them with a mention that day, or flat out bragging about some absurdist tweet that hit one hundred plus favorites, #menswear is now driven by a desire to outwardly let everyone know just how incomparably influential one truly is. Whatever daily topics this community lands on as its talking points are interchangeable and ultimately irrelevant, acting merely as vehicles to be molded and twisted into a trumpet for one's own clout (Klout?).
Even the evolution of these words is an act of braggadocio. If someone says "shirts," you have to one up them and say "jawnz." If someone says "jawnz," you have to one up them and say "jawnery." "Bless bless" becomes "blessery." "Rick Owens" becomes "Rickery" becomes "Dick Ovens." It's an everflowing vocabulary that mutates and fluctuates as we all engage in our never-ending conversation cycle of competition.
No one even strives to be a writer anymore. Instead, we strive to have fifty thousand Twitter followers and a veritable army of minions willing to spew out whatever internet-laden babble is trending that week. And that's what I deem to be the most bizarre byproduct of this phenomenon: that the audience is digesting this attitude wholesale and projecting it back toward the source.
Just this past weekend, I found myself racking my brain for an answer to the question, 'What is a fuccboi?' after I used the term in mixed company.
We all like to joke that this bravado is a gimmick and that we can see the line between being facetious on the Internet and being genuine offline, but I'm not sure we can anymore. I speak in fragmented sentences that involved recycled phrases like "copped," "been had," "on one," "mahself" and "fuccboi." When I type it out it looks laughable, but, be honest with yourself, if you're reading this site you're probably guilty of speaking in or, at the very least, being familiar with this exact same vernacular. The source of these phrases is a subject for another essay (although the vast majority stems from the similarly daily stream of tongue-in-cheek rappers that continuously release "the greatest mixtape of the year at least for this week"), but all that really matters is we perpetuate it, and you all receive it.
While I am not as guilty of popularizing this jargon as some (most notably the Editor-in-chief of this site, who some have said now needs a built in translator to understand his inane ramblings on Twitter), I will admit that I often find myself rethinking what I'm going to say when I'm not around my colloquial compatriots. Just this past weekend, I found myself racking my brain for an answer to the question, "What is a fuccboi?" after I used the term in mixed company. The only proper response I could think of was, "Well, like, ya know….a fuccboi."
The larger question here is why has this patois become so prominent now, particularly over the past handful of months? I'd argue that this dialect goes hand in hand with #menswear's (and I should stress here I'm referring solely to the movement, not men's clothing overall) adoption of a less refined look. Today, no one cares to look like another clone in a soft shouldered suit and a knit tie. Now, we want to wear hard to find Japanese pieces layered over designer pieces worn above faded out father pants with some rare sneaker down below.
We all want to look different. We all want to stand out. We all want to let our respective personalities shine through. It just so happened that everyone arrived at this goal simultaneously, so instead of looking like individuals, we all look like a bunch of sheep spewing about swag and dressing more like far, far less attractive runway models than Take Ivy undergrads.
The other side of this equation is that the blogger evolved into a personal brand and, in turn, became their own PR rep. To be fair, back in the day (and, yes, it is foolish to say "back in the day" when I'm referring to five years ago, but these are the times we live in) your value as a writer or blogger was once measured in your ability to find rare items, or seek out that new brand, so, really, I guess that mentality hasn't changed. But what has changed is that as the world of Fashion (the world in general) began to take note of #menswear, we all received a highly inflated sense of self worth. People turned toward our #menswear microcosm and from that day forth we didn't want to lose their hard-earned gaze. So we got loud and we got outspoken, as if by jumping up and down we'd keep their attention. And, hey, guess what? It worked. We were left with an ever-growing audience that actually wanted to hear what we had to say outside of just a hundred or so digital nerds.
With our egos inflating daily, we pushed the envelope, treading into increasingly bizarre territory. We began to realize that self-censorship was meaningless—that people on the Internet actually like it when you act a bit ludicrous. Slowly, thanks to the spirit of competition, a steady diet of Japanese blogs none of us can read, runway shows that we all suddenly cared about and Young Thug mixtapes, a dialect was born. So, here we are today, practically speaking in tongues and relaying utter nonsense to an audience that adores (some of) us as individuals for reasons that are absurd as Lawrence's tweets. Our kids will be so proud.
Jake Gallagher is a writer living in New York. Follow him on Twitter here.