How Men’s Style Changed Forever In The 2010s
A lot can change in 10 years. Whole islands of ice have melted into oblivion, 50-year political unions broken and a certain reality TV star has risen to become the leader of the free world. Whichever side you sit on those debates there’s no doubting that it’s been *sharp inhale of breath* a lot.
And we feel much the same about menswear. In 2010, men were still traipsing around town in spray-on jeans, lumberjack flannel shirts and bushy beards. The lumbersexual died a death and was then replaced by Don Draper-obsessed tailoring enthusiasts, then minimalists, before streetwear finally had its long-overdue day and rose to become a firm part of the fashion establishment.
Large sweeping structural changes have also dominated the industry and our shopping habits. Faster internet, the rise of Instagram and more sophisticated e-commerce sites have been repeatedly stabbing the high street in the back since the early part of the decade.
Perhaps as a reaction to this, sustainability in fashion has become important for brands and consumers alike, upping the quality of materials and design significantly, as we work to make a smaller impact on the planet.
But don’t leave it to us to tell you how significant the 2010s were to menswear. Instead, we asked 12 industry experts and insiders to put their two cents in, explaining what changes they’ve seen themselves from within the eye of a very stylish storm.
‘Men Are More Free To Express Themselves With Their Clothing Choices’
Alexandre Mattiussi, Designer & Founder of Ami
There has been an incredible shift this last decade. Times have changed and men have a less complex relationship with dressing. Their manhood is no longer questioned. And the urge to feel good about yourself, which also happens by the way you dress, is essential. The market has exploded, in a big part due to social media, which has allowed brands to reach new customers. And the demand has multiplied, not at the same level as womenswear for sure, but I think that menswear is slowly but surely getting there.
In terms of Parisian style, I can’t say that it has changed, but I’d rather say that it has evolved, all while staying faithful to what made people around the world love it. Parisian style is honest and genuine, never too forced or exaggerated.
There is a nonchalance, or coolness without the sense of trying too hard. And yes, like style around the world, it has been influenced by “trends” like streetwear, for example, but I believe that despite this influence, Parisian style remains faithful to its cool and fresh attitude – and always with a touch of elegance.
‘Streetwear Has Lost Its Meaning’
Bobby Hundreds, Co-Founder of The Hundreds
When we were starting in streetwear in 2003, we did it because nobody wore it. And now kids get into streetwear because everybody wears it.
They saw that we had made it, and Nick from Diamond Supply is driving his Ferrari, and James Jebbia [founder of Supreme] is valued at this and Virgil is sitting on top of Louis Vuitton, king of fashion and on the covers of magazines. And they have something to aspire to. We didn’t aspire to be celebrities, but the next generation, this decade, did. They don’t associate it with the same DIY place we came from.
If you stopped a kid on the street who was into streetwear he probably wouldn’t know who I was. He would say streetwear was Balenciaga or Louis Vuitton. But that’s high fashion, not streetwear. And then if you asked a mum she would say it’s athleisure – a pair of joggers and a comfortable hoodie.
And most of the core guys and girls from what I think of as streetwear, from before this decade, wouldn’t even call what they do streetwear any more. That term is so all over the place and worn thin. In the next decade, I think streetwear moves beyond the title.
‘The New Dress Codes Have Shifted Menswear’
Oliver Spencer, Designer & Founder of Oliver Spencer
Men have become much more informed about what they’re purchasing. The internet has had a big influence on this and, in particular, the way that editorial is informing men out there on trends, style, what to wear and not to wear, and more recently sustainability. And this has also significantly helped men circumnavigate the new dressing-down dress codes.
The suit has become something of a bad word this decade, something associated with bankers and estate agents, and as we’re starting to dress down more for work and up to go out, the suit has had to find a new place in our every day lives.
Office attire has massively changed over the last five years, we are now much more smart casual which is allowing individuals to dress in a way that they just wouldn’t have been doing in the past.
‘Men Started To Care And That Will Help Us Find A Sustainable Future’
Christopher Raeburn, Founder of RÆBURN & Creative Director at Timberland
The menswear market has grown tremendously in the past decade thanks to the internet and social media, but also because men care a lot more now.
The interest from our customers around sustainability has been promising. More are being curious and willing to support. There’s certainly still a lot that needs to change, but the innovation that is now happening around responsible design is ground-breaking.
There’s been a great deal of innovation and experimentation, with fabrics and processes from a sustainability perspective. It’s an exciting moment and we want to continue to be at the forefront of that innovative and responsible design.
We also recently took part in the world’s first digital clothing store by digitising a conceptual RÆBURN garment, and I’m interested to see how digital fashion develops. Digital clothing certainly has promise for sustainability reasons and I’d like to think that digital fashion will help address production issues, but also aid in marketing a physical collection more effectively and responsibly.
‘You Would Never Have Sold Workwear Ten Years Ago’
Nigel Cabourn, Designer & Owner of Lybro
Seven years ago, I realised that I couldn’t survive as a company just selling £1,000 jackets. I needed something that people could get their teeth into and buy easily. And that was workwear.
You would never have sold workwear ten years ago. I would never have thought about having a workwear brand and now I’ve had the workwear brand, Lybro, for six years.
Lybro was an old British brand founded in 1927. It made all the clothing for the men and women in the ammunitions factories in World War II. And they also dressed The Beatles. I checked what had happened to Lybro and it was no longer in existence. My good friend Daiki [Suzuki, founder of Engineered Garments] was having it off with workwear in his own way, American workwear, so I thought, well, I’ll have a go at doing it the British way and bring back Lybro.
I built it on the dungaree. These workwear brands were all dead 20 years ago and there I was selling 8,000 dungarees last year, and they’re not cheap. Now, all these other brands are copying my dungarees – they’re just nowhere near as good.
‘Skinny And Slim Tailoring Has Been Slowly Phased Out’
John Harrison, Creative Director of Gieves & Hawkes
Fundamentally the suit is still driven by the lapel, collar, buttons, sleeves, pockets and a trouser. There has been no significant shift like from the frock coat of earlier centuries. However, the changes are far more diverse. The homogeneous suit from a decade ago has undergone significant change in recent years, with much more variance, attention to detail and nods to a more dressed-up use. This seems a logical reaction to casualised clothing.
Any significant shift has been in the shape of the suit. The short, skinny and slim has shifted to a longer, more elegant shape with fuller lapels, deeper pocket flaps, and wider trousers. Bespoke suiting is much more stable though and the shift in trends or shape rarely affects it in a major way. Customers want a suit fit to their shape, so to tailor out of that is slightly counter-intuitive.
‘Drop Culture Has Kept Menswear Fresh’
Kyle Stewart, Co-Founder of Goodhood
Alec Ohlaker on Unsplash
Menswear was certainly affected by the global economic performance after the financial crash in 2008 when clothing went very heritage-inspired and the focus was firmly on quality. Since then men have completely woken up in their clothing choices.
There has been a move towards streetwear which has been in the works for years. Work dress codes have relaxed and the younger generation does not have the same expectations in terms of formalities. Streetwear has been hailed as a mega-trend but in all honesty, it hasn’t changed and I doubt it will. The core consumers of what we define as streetwear are still just interested in the best product from whatever brand is offering exceptionality in their product category.
Drop culture is a big part of that. More and more brands are moving towards drop models. It’s good for everyone as it delivers consistent newness and keeps the seasons fresh and lively.
‘Sneaker Tech Has Pushed The Boundaries Of Design’
George Sullivan, CEO of SoleSupplier
I have been collecting sneakers for eight years now and in that time sales in the sneaker market have exploded. Adidas and Kanye West’s original Yeezy Boost 350 was released on a limited run but became one of the biggest releases of the decade, while the latest iteration saw sales of over one million units, and could be considered a mass-market shoe now. The series is still selling out and creating hype even though its units have gone up 10 times.
The other major change is the innovation within design due to recent manufacturing technologies. Take the Nike Vapormax, a shoe that took six years to make. The defining feature was a fully exposed air bubble on the sole of the shoe that didn’t pop. It was a major achievement for Nike and although initially slated, quickly became one of Nike’s best sellers.
Nike has since broken its own record, creating the biggest air bubble ever on the Air Max 720. These design innovations are causing shoes to look even more futuristic and spurring designs that weren’t seen 10 years ago. The market is now ready for wacky, futuristic and innovative designs such as the Vapormax and the Air Max 720, both current bestsellers when 10 years ago the best seller at Nike was the Air Max 1; a much more simple silhouette which was considered ‘loud’ at the time.
‘Holidays Have Become A Time To Dress Up, Not Down’
Adam Brown, Founder of Orlebar Brown
Resortwear has truly arrived in the past 10 years, becoming a new exciting category for men to choose from. I think you can trace this popularity down to the fact that it’s fun, colourful, chic, and just relatively easy to get right.
Another aspect of this rise in popularity has been the combination of a revitalized approach to holidays and travel along with the acceptance that men can, and should, dress well for their holidays. Social media has had an impact too as people want to show themselves looking good on their travels, and just a more general belief that it is okay for men to care about how they dress outside of the workplace, as much as they do in it.
‘Trends Are No Longer Just Local. Style Has Become Global’
Chris Hobbs, Senior Fashion Editor at MatchesFashion Charlie Thomas For FashionBeans
Men have become much more open to ‘fashion’ this last decade, which I think previously was a scary concept to the average guy on the street.
Instagram has been helpful in giving men the confidence to mak bolder choices – they can see what guys are wearing in Seoul, San Francisco and Madrid and no longer need to feel part of a local tribe.
When I started my career, menswear trends would start slowly and could take a few seasons to take hold. Now we see the overnight success of cult products such as the Triple S sneaker from Balenciaga.
Men seem wholly aware that if they want something they need to buy it quickly before it sells out. And yet in amongst the consumerism we end the decade with a more thoughtful approach to fashion – an appreciation of artistry, provenance and fabrication. It’s going to be interesting to see where this develops.
‘Algorithms Have Helped Men Experiment’
Rich Simmons, UK Styling Team Supervisor at Stitch Fix
Having been burdened with choice in-store and online, men are faced with hundreds of options to sort through which can often lead to them just sticking to what they know. But more and more, algorithms are changing this consumer expectation. Your Netflix experience is personalised to you, as is your Airbnb feed – why shouldn’t your style options be too?
Stitch Fix algorithms sort by size, price point and style preferences, so your stylist only sees what is pertinent to you. We even have algorithms to help determine your size across many brands, so shoppers can worry less about ensuring something fits and finding something they love. This feeds into a growing desire for discovery – guys want brands and styles that you can’t find on every high street.
And menswear has become a space for this ingenuity. High-end designers are creating styles and looks that are more wearable and can be easily worked into mainstream collections while men are becoming more open to pieces seen as traditionally feminine. Men are becoming unafraid to push their style and mix things up when we were sitting in a far more traditional space for far too long.
‘Influencers Are Dictating The Trends
Cleveland Campbell, Head of Creative at BoohooMan
I think in the last decade we’ve seen that high fashion designer brands are no longer dictating trends. Street style, influencers, and celebrities are now the go too for the fashion conscious and with the rise of internet shopping, that fashionable celebrity aesthetic is more obtainable than it was in the past.
These influencers have helped our brand massively, showcasing the product, and providing a direct connection to their followers, and subsequently, our consumers.