A Menswear Memoir

The Present and How It Got That Way

 

On Professionalism; or, Been There, Done That. Got The Tee Shirt

How do you get respect, anyway?

Be knowledgeable and relevant, simultaneously. Authoritative and  contemporary; trained in the classics and comfortable with the avant garde. Or is it just "think young"?  All of that. 

I'm thinking that the guy who comes into my shop (on purpose, that is, not lost, "just looking," or dragged there by Mom or partner,) wants both. Wants to be sure that we know what we're talking about, confident that the things we show him are truly stylish and up-to-date, wants to be absolutely sure that this pair of pants, jacket, shirt, whatever, fits correctly. And perhaps most important, wants to know if the goods we've got are worth the dough, and if so, why. 

Sure, there's the occasional gentleman who refuses to try anything new, but he's more likely a past victim of the kind of unsophisticated retailer I'm alluding to above. And the guy who "Just ain't gonna pay that for this, no matter what you say!" But they mostly go elsewhere (B... B..., M...W... ?)

Tee shirt give-away gift from the Nick Hilton Fall 1993 runway presentation of January 23, 1993.  (Holes and blood stains added.)

Tee shirt give-away gift from the Nick Hilton Fall 1993 runway presentation of January 23, 1993.  (Holes and blood stains added.)

Rear view. That's me at the microphone.

Rear view. That's me at the microphone.

So how do we get this training and knowledge? How do we know the difference between Super 120s (grade of Merino wool) and 120s Two-Ply (cotton thread count,) how do we know that your collar needs to be lowered or raised, or if you really can't wear pants with that short of a rise? How do we get to convince you that a stripe shirt really will look great with a plaid suit and a striped tie? How do we know that you'll wear this thing we recommend and you'll get compliments; that it'll become your very favorite? 

Hey, all you gotta do is spend the last 45 years learning every aspect of the trade: grow up in a clothing factory, launch a designer collection, design your own fabrics, work with tailors, pattern-makers, textile manufacturers; that's all. Then open a store and wait on discriminating and quality-conscious fellas from morning til night six days a week for fourteen years. And while you're doing that keep one thing uppermost in your mind at all times:

"You've got a lot to learn, buster."