Author: Ben Tuthill
Back in 2008, the online menswear community was nothing more
than a few isolated weirdos getting into arguments about laundry detergent on
denim-care forums. Four years and an
armful of Fashion Week invites later, it has developed into a genuine market
force with a name (#menswear), recognizable stars, and a GQ-published oral
history (seriously). It was only so long
before it ended up with a book deal.
That book deal came to fruition last Tuesday with the release of “[Oh]
Of all the various blogs that make up the #menswear universe, “[Oh]
Yeah Menswear” is by far the least accessible (note: that’s not what it’s
actually called, but I have Midwestern values and a mother who doesn’t know
that I swear. From here on I’ll
abbreviate it as “FYMW.” Figure it out
yourself). Though the authors remained anonymous until earlier this
year, “FYMW” was the result of Dreamworks employee/tie designer Kevin Burrows
and ex-fratboy/fashion blogger Lawrence Schlossman.
Described in GQ’s aforementioned “Oral
History” as the “‘Hipster Runoff’ of the menswear movement,” “FYMW” is a
self-loathing look at menswear culture featuring photos of over-dressed young
men paired with free-associative poetry made up of equal parts menswear jargon
and hip hop slang. It’s 100% inside-baseball and requires a solid knowledge of
fashion and an intimate sense of #menswear culture to understand any of
For example: A photograph of the classic coffee table book
“Take Ivy” lying between a pair of penny-loafer-wearing feet with the caption:
“I’m Trad in a toaster. / [Very] crispy. / Glad Powerhouse re-published. / I
only buy Made in the [fruitful] USA.” Get it?
No? Too bad, plebe; go back to
the Gap. That’s the spirit of “FYMW”:
it’s mean-spirited, it’s self-aware, it’s funny. As Tumblrs go, it does a pretty good job.
For some reason, someone at Simon and Schuster thought that
was enough to give it a book deal.
Despite only being accessible to a subminority of a subminority, here we
are today with a very physical edition of “FYMW,” living the blog equivalent of
the American Dream and available wherever books are sold. I can’t possibly imagine it going to a second
printing; who’s going to buy it? How
many people are going to understand what’s funny about “I’ve been on that
homeless tip. / Before fleece was black at the Brethren. / Before Press was in
Urban”? That’s inaccessibility at a Heideggerian
“Being and Time” level, but without the ground-breaking theory and
world-shattering implications. I can’t
see this doing anything but losing money.
Surprisingly, the book’s not that bad, once you get past the
weirdness of reading internet-style, hyper-link dependent writing on high-gloss
paper. The photos look great, the poems
are still funny, and, despite being disorganized, it all comes together into a
pretty enjoyable whole. It’s even
surprisingly insightful at times: Burrows and Schlossman added some substance
in the form of essays on various aspects of the menswear industry, as well as
“Official Preppy Handbook”-style personality sketches and lifestyle guides.
Their summary of the American Heritage movement is well-put and thoughtful, and
the concluding menswear glossary is, despite its sarcasm, genuinely
informative. “Cite it in your
dissertation,” reads the introduction. Maybe I will.
I don’t really know how to feel. I giggled to myself from cover to cover, but
I couldn’t help feeling disgusted by every page of it. Disgusted with #menswear, for it’s
self-obsession disguised as noble materialism.
Disgusted with Burrows and Schlossman, for their self-obsession
disguised as irony. Disgusted with
myself, for buying into all of this racket and enjoying it.
I understand every word of this book. That
doesn’t make me feel good about myself. That doesn’t make me feel smarter than you. I know the difference
between “jawnz,” “sprezz,” and “crispiness.” That’s not even real slang. Those
are just some made-up words rich kids with nice cameras use while they try to
outsmart each other about leather treatment on style forums. What am I doing with my life?
Complex Magazine, in their review of “FYMW,” said that the
book “successfully captures the voice of a generation.” I guess they’re right. This is the “On The Road” of #menswear, the
quintessential document of a subculture that’s painfully aware of it’s comically
problematic self-involvement. There is
no other text that better captures the past four years of this tiny corner of
the internet. It’s a scathingly
celebratory look inward, simultaneously hateful, proud, and ashamed of its own
Will anyone care about this in 50 years? Will anyone look back at these pictures and
poems and say, “These were the guys who started it all. These were the guys who dressed really well
and posted pictures of themselves on the internet”? Probably not. Like the “Stuff White People Like” book, the “Lolcatz” book, and the
“Pitchfork 500” book that came before it, “FYMW” is something that should never
have left its own isolated URL. I
enjoyed every minute of this book. I
feel validated to know that my weird little interests were deemed worthy of
printing by a major publishing house. But I can’t endorse this. This is
the definitive zeitgeist of #menswear, and this is #menswear going just one step too
And they printed it in China. Bastards.
Check out “FYMW” at www.fuckyeahmenswear.tumblr.com.
Ben Tuthill is a senior English & Comparative Literary Studies major. He can be reached at [email protected]
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