Author: Ben Tuthill
I give a lot of credit to men and men’s fashion in this column. We deserve it: men are awesome! Go us! Menswear is doing some genuinely amazing things these days in terms of design, manufacturing, and social responsibility. That’s not easy to do in an exploitive, consumerist business like the fashion industry, and we should be proud of that. But it would be unfair to say that we’re doing all the work ourselves: some of the smartest thinkers in the game are (gasp!) women. I think praise on the sole basis of gender is problematic for a lot of reasons, but you have to give credit where credit is due, and right now credit is due to five extremely cool women who are keeping the menswear industry alive.
5. Mimi Fukuyoshi, Bergdorf Goodman
As head of one of the world’s most famous menswear departments, Mimi Fukuyoshi controls how some of the wealthiest men in the world shop for clothes. If I had her job I would totally be stealing most of the merchandise I was handling, and from the looks of it so does she: in almost all of her photographs she’s dressed in beautiful suit coats, looking five times better than most of the men she’s supposed to be selling them to. Despite that, she somehow still manages to curate a fantastic collection. Maybe someday somebody reading this will be able to afford some of it.
4. Marisa Zupan, “The Significant Other”
If you’ve made the mistake of getting involved in the online blogging community that calls itself “#menswear,” you’re probably starting to choke on the lazy, self-aggrandizing racket that’s force-fed to you every time you open your computer. Most menswear blogs these days are hocking lame brand collaborations, bragging about their super-hip connections, and generally turning into self-important parodies of themselves. If there’s one star left, it’s Marisa Zupan of “The Significant Other.” Marisa consistently puts out thoughtful, well-photographed posts that really dig into what actually matters: beautifully made men’s clothing. By taking a step back and genuinely paying respect to fine manufacturing, Marisa is pretty much the only blogger left who doesn’t make me want to quit fashion.
3. Katherine McMillan, Pierrepont Hicks
Kat McMillan is not only the mother of what are generally regarded as the cutest children in menswear: she is also 50 percent of the brains behind Pierrepont Hicks, the American-made neckwear line she started with her husband Mac. Kat is also co-founder of NorthernGRADE, the Minnesota-based, 100% made-in-USA tradeshow that has grown into one of the best heritage pop-ups in the country. Kat’s work proves that traditional, small-business values can still make it in today’s economy, and that Minnesotans are by far the best people in fashion.
2. Véronique Nichanian, Hermès
No label epitomizes luxury menswear like Hermès, and for nearly 25 years the brains behind that label have been Véronique Nichanian’s. Luxury brands like Hermès tend to get stale and bogged down by big-name designer egos, but Nichanian has managed to keep her house fresh for the past quarter century by dedicating herself to her art and letting Hermès’s tradition of precise detailing and absurdly luxurious craft speak for itself. Hermès scarves are as coveted today as they were 50 years ago, and a bespoke Hermès suit is still one of the surest sign of making it in the world, due in no small part to her.
1. Eunice Lee, Unis
Ask any menswear blogger who their hero is, and over 50 percent of them would say Eunice Lee. As founder, CEO, creative director, PR chief, and random email answerer of the casual line Unis, Lee is the definition of modern small business transparency and accountability. If you write to Unis about anything, you will receive a personal response from Eunice Lee herself. Seriously: I wrote in a complaint about my shopping bag last year, and in less than two days I got a thoughtful, three paragraph response addressing all of my concerns. Lee deals with every aspect of her business, from styling to manufacturing to yelling at buyers who don’t make payments on time. ”I want them to know there’s a person behind this stuff” is her mantra, and it bleeds through every aspect of her work. I can’t think of a more thoughtful business than Unis, and I can’t think of a business-person who I have more respect for than Eunice Lee. If someone in menswear is eventually going to save the world, it’s her.
So there you have it. Women are awesome. So are men, but whatever. Gender binaries are lame, yeah? No? Go take a CTSJ class and check some of this stuff out.
Ben is a senior English & Comparative Literary Studies major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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