Aug 8, 2010
Before I get started, friends, WHO do you think I was like two feet away from -- twice! -- last night at Lincoln Center seeing the Mark Morris Dance Group? Isaac Mizrahi!
There I stood in my near perfect summer shirt and flowered pants, just hoping he'd notice...hoping...and oh, readers --
Then again it was dark on the balcony of the New York State Theater, and Isaac was chatting with friends...and he has famously poor eyesight anyway, doesn't he? Doesn't he?
If you're a reader of Male Pattern Boldness, Isaac, please feel free to comment anonymously. I'll know it's you.
Moving right along...
So I've been reading online quite a bit lately about plus-sized fashion and how department stores like Saks have begun selling plus-sized designer offerings from big names like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Valentino.
But here's the thing: apparently they're not too eager to advertise the fact. According to Jezebel.com, Chanel has been curiously tight-lipped about it. The suspicion seems to be that publicizing their plus sizes will tarnish their image.
Scanning reader comments, I noticed one commenter, in particular, was unsurprised. She (he?) says:
I once did a consulting gig for a far from high end clothing catalog whose customers were primarily women well over the age of 60. They would get complaints from time to time about the models being too young and/or too thin; however, as part of their regular business practices the catalog tracked sales by model, and every time they used models who looked older than around 40 or were truly plus-sized, sales nosedived for those items.
Overall, fashion is aspirational. While many people in the industry certainly have unhealthy and even downright gross attitudes about larger people, the reality is that consumers are usually drawn to buy expensive clothes because of the dream that they will be younger/thinner/sexier/happier or in whatever other way BETTER if they do so. So designers and retailers sell the dream - after all, people who don't care about these things have many inexpensive choices for covering up their bodies before they leave the house.
I started to wonder: is this true? Do we really -- whether we admit it or not -- prefer seeing clothes on young, sylph-like bodies? Or do we want our clothes modeled on people who look more like the average person?
Would we be more likely to purchase clothing or any fashion-related item (say, make-up or perfume) if we could see them presented on someone who looked just like us -- about our age, about our body type? Or less likely?
For a lot of these items (especially perfume) aren't we just buying an image, a fantasy, that appeals to us? I mean, there's a reason these things are named "White Shoulders" or "Youth Dew" and not "Laundry Day."
It would be hard to find a person who buys less clothing than I do, but I have to say that when I look at men's fashion magazines or advertising -- and I do -- I sometimes get tired of seeing guys who look emaciated, or the other extreme, have bodies like something out of a vintage muscle magazine. And are just shy of 20.
But among men I think there's much more variety in both age and body type than there is for women, though there have been female exceptions too.
What do you think, readers, honestly? Do you want to see clothes modeled on people who look more like you do -- assuming, which I shouldn't, that you're not a dead-ringer for Gisele Bundchen or Troy Donahue? Obviously most consumers of fashion -- especially high end fashion -- are not kids just out of high school or nymph-like ballerinas. Why are they so prevalent on runways and advertising then?
I get the tall part (they need to be a standard size on the runway to fit the samples) but why can't they be wrinkled? Are we simply genetically predisposed to prefer youth?
Labels: clothing and culture