Indianapolis, may not be the fashion capital of the Midwest…yet. But! – there is hope. This sartorial drought need not maintain its damnable presence as a Midwest-cursed imperative. Men: there are options beyond Ed Hardy tees and Lacoste polos (not to mention the allegedly fashionable wares purveyed by the likes of Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch). No, these monolithic peddlers of subpar menswear have spewed enough of their (abhorrently) trendy blasphemy into our lovely city’s humid atmosphere.
The times, they are a-changin’ – we’re just a little behind the curve. So, for lack of local fashion hotspots, I’ve cobbled together a brief primer on a few magazines (both American and International) that offer me some stylistic solace (albeit in fantasy more often than reality…). Here are my top three sources for sartorial inspiration:
Man About Town was first launched in 1952 by John Taylor, who shaped the magazine into one that, in his own words, “helps you to be good…at being bad” (he also noted that its contents were limited to “women and various other bad habits”). As fate (and a completely disinterested male populace) would have it, Taylor was forced to shut the magazine down in 1967. But, in 2007 it was resuscitated by editorial wunderkind Huw Gwyther (founder of Man About Town‘s older-sister fashion magazine, Wonderland). This biannual publication (now in its 8th Issue – Spring/Summer 2011, with Issue 9 on the way) will, without doubt, overwhelm you with its 250+ (matte-finished!) pages of male-focused, fashionably progressive, and intelligently decadent contents. With internationally acclaimed photographers such as Hedi Slimane, paired with subjects as sartorially savvy as Jamie Hince (of the Kills), how can you resist a peek? Based in the UK, the editors begin each issue with a brief statement regarding the current Issue’s…purpose. In the last Man About Town edition, the editors cheekily implore the reader thusly: “We sincerely hope that in the pursuit of our own interests, we have found something that will interest you. On that note, by the next publication, we hope this issue has become terribly irrelevant. Only then do we know if we have succeeded.”
So pick up Issue 8: Hedi Slimane’s Los Angeles Issue at your local bookstore and indulge in an perfectly-coiffed extravagant experience. The cover’s coyly suggestive subtitle says it all: “Pardon My French: on Clothes, cars, food, drinks, cigarettes, women… and various other bad habits.”
Arena Homme + was intended to be the avant-garde offshoot of the minds behind the now-defunct British men’s magazine Arena (a “lad mag,” in the vein of GQ, FHM, and other magazines of a similar ilk). But, under the creative leadership of writer/editor Jo-Ann Furnis, this biannual fashion bible has established itself as the pinnacle of publications devoted solely to contemporary men’s clothing and accessories (far outlasting its parent-publication, Arena). Its exquisitely crafted, cinematic spreads are lush portrayals of an idyllic world where fashion and art are seamlessly (and inextricably) interwoven. Longtime collaborators include the world-renowned fashion photographers Bruce Weber and Nicola Formichetti (a talented visionary who has worked with Dazed Magazine, V & VMan, AnOther, and whose recent collaborations with Lady GaGa – cringe all you want – has garnered her much praise and/or condemnation, depending on your own aesthetic proclivities…). Arena Homme + is published twice a year in order to directly coincide with the Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter designer collections.
Part of the dynastic Vogue fashion-kingdom, this publication is the Italian men’s version of Vogue Hommes International. Though a bit less daring in its stylistic sensibilities (especially relative to the previous two magazines), L’Uomo Vogue exudes a classically-founded appreciation for smart-fitting suits and tastefully accessorized high fashion. The models found within its 300-page portfolios are more likely to reflect your quintessential “Man’s Man”: tufts of graying hair, scruffy beards, and wizened faces, wrinkled with age – a stark contrast (and welcome relief) to the waif-ish rockstars that have inundated the pages of Man About Town and Arena Homme +. These men carry themselves (and the elegantly-tailored clothes they don) with an air of distinguished, fashionable self-assurance. But here’s the catch: L’Uomo Vogue is devoid of any English writing. So, pick up a copy, carefully pore over the images, but don’t expect to glean much from the written editorials.