The Changing of the Guard

24 January 2016

Mens clothing is in flux. Much has rightfully been made of the changing nature of the coverage, consumption and presentation of menswear as it makes its way from being the outlet for a cult of forum dwelling enthusiasts to a bonafide mainstream phenomenon. For those who got on board years ago its gratifying to see that a wide variety of good quality, well designed clothing is available to a much better informed audience. After all—that was what this whole thing was about.


This transformation has not been without its cost. The energy, and enthusiastic amateurism of this earlier era of menswear with its just-barely-informed coverage of high-end Italian, Japanese and Ivy clothing has given way to a mixed and sometimes shady professionalism. One only needs to look at the changes at the early nu-menswear magazine Inventory over the period. From their days as Oxford cloth draped traditionalists called HYR collective who drooled over Nigel Cabourn’s rigidly archival designs to the streetwear-sophisticates of 2016 who seem much happier writing about Scandinavian homewares and obscure conceptual art than clothing.


This might simply be a natural limitation of writing about classic menswear, after all there is only so much to be said about a pair of chinos or a button-down shirt (as wonderful as they both are) and it’s understandable that the people who might have learned to appreciate craft through a pair of selvedge jeans want to expand that viewpoint to incorporate their environment and lifestyle. The blogging format lends itself to reductionism, the temptation when your short of ideas is to churn out looks or produce what is essentially reblogs of brand-provided press materials and lookbooks. This month saw the irreverent #menswear pioneers Four-Pins shut their doors as their audience moved to social media and their writing stagnated.


Which leads us to the next point: quality control. As blogs professionalised they required ever more clicks and posts to maintain ad revenue and readership. The quality per post plunged dramatically. This coincided with the development of quality menswear sections in the mainstream of traditional publications (Financial times, Sunday Times, NYT, Bloomberg) as well as good quality editorial content created by vendors and brands themselves. With more money and know-how on their hands this old-guard could buy better and more thoughtful writing and pair it with high-end design and illustration at a pace no independent or even magazine associated blog could match.


This is essentially a long winded mission statement for Epochs and where we see ourselves in the future. We aren’t going to sell our users data or write advertorials. We’re not going to bother writing what other people can (and do) write better. We’re going to stick to long-form content that explores ideas around menswear that get lost in all the churn. On a quarterly basis we will produce a high-quality feature that explores a specific nook or cranny of menswear in the nature of our exhaustive Nautical Guide or Camouflage in Menswear. We hope to include more original illustration and photography, interviews and city guides (likely starting with our native Dublin) and we’re expanding our social media presence (our Instagram has gotten off to a good start). Biggest news of all is the fact that we’re almost finished a huge redesign that will make the site sharper, easier to navigate and use.We’re pretty psyched about it and we hope you will be too.

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The Silent Majority