Friday 23 February 2018

Paul Galvin: Tight squeeze

Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brosnan

Paul Galvin

Is there a cut-off age for wearing jeans? Paul Galvin decides to challenge his instincts, cling on to his skinnies and embrace a new Scandinavian direction in denim wear.

The dog days might be over, but the denim days ain't. For a while there, I wasn't sure. This summer, I found myself gravitating towards a more senior style of dressing.

Being a man of a certain age, my very own personal stylist -- instinct -- was advising me to wear more chinos and slacks.

Considering he is one of the few people I ever listen to, I was making like Ralph Lauren nearly every day. I feared my jean-wearing days were over.

However, when it comes to fashion matters, I've learned the rules are that there are no rules. Trends come and go so whimsically that I'm beginning to wonder if they are not just a thing of the past.

Anyway, in the past few weeks, I've found my denim head again -- lots of shirts and jackets going on and I have been looking for more good jeans.

A question arose along the way. Is there an age after which it is unacceptable for a man to wear jeans? Late 30s? 40s? 50s?

I guess it depends on a few factors. Body shape will determine which style of jeans look best on you.

If you're tall and slim by nature, you have infinitely more longevity in the jeans-wearing stakes.

Also the denim wash is important. Dark denim is much more agreeable as you push on.

Then, you have to consider the skinny-jeans-wearing conundrum. When is the cut-off point for wearing them?

I'm talking age cut-off here, of course, not blood supply.

The shelf life for skinny-jeans-wearing men is much shorter than looser-fitting cuts.

Still, I don't feel I'm ready to wave bye bye to my skinnies just yet.

With that in mind, I began looking for new jeans and a new direction. I found them in Urban Outfitters.

Cheap Monday is a Swedish label that started out as a second-hand store and is now owned by H&M and stocked in cities the world over.

I had seen the label in London and the logo caught my eye. Skulls are the most over-done logo in fashion, yet they never go out of fashion.

Cheap Monday's original design featured a skull mouthing the name of the brand with an inverted crucifix on its forehead as an anti-religion statement. It has now been removed and replaced with just a vertical line as the label becomes a brand and rolls out globally.

Stores have just opened in Manchester and Birmingham, following London and Copenhagen.

Browsing Urban Outfitters is always an invigorating experience.

In what other store can you buy a book called 'Beard', a collection of photographs featuring very ornate and impressive beard styles from men around the world?

Cheap Monday used to specialise in jeans but now makes shirts, leather jackets and coats, and has just launched its first men's shoe collection.

Desert boots feature heavily, as do biker boots, jodhpur boots and Converse-style sneakers. This year's autumn/winter collection is right up my street.

Looking at it reminded me of fellow Scandinavian fashion house ACNE, very much pushing the boundaries with its designs and choice of fabrics.

Scandinavian creativity is similar to Ireland's. It's often rooted in place and environment.

Growing up in a sparse landscape and harsh environment such as Scandinavia makes a fertile imagination invaluable.

The design team found inspiration in a bold, futuristic world where they envisaged future inhabitants of earth living on spaceships and wearing jumpsuits, nets and sheer fabrics suitable for a population who have robots to do their work for them.

Cheap Monday sounds like a fun place to work. While the men's collection contains some out-there pieces and looks a bit ragged, this is in keeping with the brand's idiosyncratic approach to clothing.

Exposed seams, seemingly ill-fitting silhouettes and extraneous fabrics give lie to typical Scandinavian creative thinking.

Don't let that scare you. There are some great T-shirts and the skinny jeans are brilliant.

Some jeans they make feature rubberised denim. Cheap Monday has launched a Customized By Nature collection, where the design team took 30 pairs of denim jeans and placed them in nature in three different locations in Sweden.

They laid them in the dirt of the west coast, placed them in the woods close to Stockholm and then left them lying on the roof of their offices.

The jeans were exposed to the sunlight of long Swedish summers, dirty autumn leaves and icy cold winter storms.

They were literally worn by nature and each pair has been shaped by its natural environment.

Just like the Scandinavian people themselves. And the Irish. And just about every other human on earth.

So that's why Cheap Monday is my new favourite jean label. It's authentic and original. And at ¤50 a pair, it can be a Cheap Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday...

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