Thursday 17 October 2019

What a man wants

Irish men are savvy shoppers who know their own style

Jacket, €2,700; slim jeans, €450, both Christian Dior
Jacket, €2,700; slim jeans, €450, both Christian Dior
Jacket, €1,590; T-shirt, €350; trousers, €595; cap, €295; trainers, €695, all Balenciaga
Jacket, €1,485; shirt, €565; jeans with belt, €500; shoes, €230, all Off White
Jacket, €925; jumper, €550, ski pants, €365, all Moncler
Puffa, €795; top, €395, both Stone Island
Jacket, €665; hoody, €500; trousers, €500, all Burberry. Socks, €15, Falke. Sneakers, €395, Alexander McQueen

'People underestimate Irish men. There's still this mentality that they don't care. But Irish guys are really about their fashion," explains Louise Joyce, buyer for Brown Thomas contemporary menswear. "Especially the younger generation,"

Formalwear has long been the backbone of the Brown Thomas menswear business. Unlike many major UK department stores, who are seeing this side of their business decline, suiting is still a huge part of what the Brown Thomas customer looks for.

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"While men are dressing a bit more casually for work, I think Irish men still dress in a more formal way," says Louise. That said, athleisure, or as Louise herself describes it, "clothes with a contemporary streetwear vibe," are a big draw for their younger customer. This section is, in fact, one of the fastest growing parts of the Brown Thomas menswear business.

"Younger customers dress like this all the time," Louise reflects. "Particularly those in more creative industries, which tend to enjoy more relaxed dress codes." She's talking about the 18- to roughly 35-year-old customer. Men who are fashion literate, who know their favourite brands and remain loyal to them; for whom clothes are not a uniform, but a way of expressing one's identity.

Jacket, €1,590; T-shirt, €350; trousers, €595; cap, €295; trainers, €695, all Balenciaga
Jacket, €1,590; T-shirt, €350; trousers, €595; cap, €295; trainers, €695, all Balenciaga

Today's editorial focuses largely on outerwear. When women make a big, expensive purchase, it tends to be on accessories. For men, it is outerwear that is their status purchase. "Men and guys invest in outerwear the way a woman invests in a handbag or shoes," Louise says.

Athleisure's biggest influence is probably to be seen in trouser silhouettes, which are relaxing somewhat.

"There is definitely a more casual shape in trousers, even outside of, let's say, denim," says Louise. "Sweatpants are seen as a different item from what they were five or 10 years ago. They have a slightly tailored influence, or a better shape. We're finding this season that there is a lot of cargo influence within a sweat-pant fabric, from designer brands like Dior and Burberry, all the way down the chain to more entry brands like Stussy or Kenzo."

This season, Brown Thomas menswear has added several new labels. As well as Dsquared and Dior, they scored quite a coup in adding Japanese brand A Bathing Ape, one of the original streetwear brands, and a label known for being very restrictive with their distribution.

Its addition to Brown Thomas menswear serves to confirm: for the man in the know, this is your fashion mecca.

Photography by Stefano Moro Van Wyk

Styling by Darren Feeny

Words by Liadan Hynes

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