Milano Moda Uomo
Dates: Jun 19 – 23, 2010

Menswear Finds its “Middle”

DALLAS, May 3, 2010 / FW/ — Just as the 1930s Great Depression shaped parsimony and thrift in a whole generation, the Great Recession has instilled frugality among us according to a new AP Economy Survey.

The AP Economy Survey asked 44 leading economists whether the recession created a “new frugality” among consumers that will outlive the recession. Two-thirds said yes. If that is the case, then why is the New York Times reporting that khaki chinos cost $550?

The khaki chinos… who would have thought that it would be a must-have fashion item? Thanks to Bill Gates and the men of Silicone Valley who have had a penchant for wearing khakis long before the internet was born, most men have a pair or two in their closet.

Just like the denim, the khaki chino had lowly beginnings that even with inflation; Gap sells it at $44.50. So, why are men snapping up Giorgio Armani chinos for $595, even the $780 ones with elasticized cuffs from Bottega Veneta?

The answer is simple… the khaki chino had become a fashion statement the same way that denim, which has a more pedestrian beginning than the chino is a high fashion staple.

How did we get here? When did the chino become hip & cool?

It was a long climb up for the chino (khaki or otherwise) to be considered high fashion status. Defined as “business casual” dress code for working men all the way back in the 1990s, the chinos gained prominence as Bill Gates, (who was usually photographed or interviewed wearing them) rose to worldwide fame.

And though the Microsoft founder will never be named as a fashion icon, he is also the reason why we became used to seeing rich and powerful men wearing chinos. In short, Bill Gates made wearing chinos acceptable, but he did not make it hip and cool.

So, who made chinos hip and cool? The designers did! Giorgio Armani, Thomas Maier of Bottega Veneta, our very own Thom Browne and Band of Outsiders made chinos highly desirable and highly covetable.

The 21st century man is different from his brethren of 50 – 60 years ago wherein the choice was wearing a suit or jeans. Thanks to shows like “Queer Eye for a Straight Man” and the metrosexmania that swept the world’s big cities during the first half of the 2000s, today’s average men are more aware about dressing up than they were even just a decade or so ago.

Men need clothes to fill the gap between suits and jeans and the chinos fill that space admirably. In short, a frugal state of mind or not, men will buy chinos because they feel the need for them.

And perhaps, that will be the message this coming Spring 2011 menswear season in Milan. With the new frugality outlasting the recession, fashion houses have to design clothing that men will think of as a necessity.



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