If the late 90’s was all about Mondeo Man, then maybe this decade will be all about Monocle Man.
You might know him well. He shops at Borough Market and Columbia Road. He listens to Radio 4. He might grow his own veg or at least get a vegebox, drink wanky coffee and listen to Mumford & Sons (whose name actually sound like a countryfied clothing label). And, of course, he reads ever-so-slightly po faced magazines like Inventory, A Continuous Lean. and, of course, MONOCLE.
There are so many Monocle Man clothing labels popping up right now that is has almost become a genre in itself. Take a vaguely old-fashioned sounding name, maybe put a waxed jacket in there and a pair of Quoddy boots and play some Seasick Steve in the background.
Aubin & Wills, Universal Works, Bamford & Sons, Folk, Norse Projects, SNS Herning, The Hill-Side and the recently launched Percival all trade upon workwear silhouettes, authentic-style branding and a modern reworking of a certain halcyon-ised aesthetic. That’s not forgetting the originators of the trend; Margaret Howell, Oliver Spencer, Hartford, Anderson’s, A.P.C., Engineered Garments and Woolrich Woollen Mills, Labour & Wait’s smattering of clothes and bags and the grandaddy of them all, Albam.
At first it was fun, but Monocle Man has homogenised the high street, in a rather backwards-looking way. It’s easy to think that this is a wholesome, original aesthetic but a company like Albam is as much about clever branding and marketing; as off-the-shelf and prolific as the Emo, WAG, Balmain or Boho looks were last decade.
Though it’s impossible to condemn Monocle Man entirely. The new Metrosexual he may be, but the look has a basis in long-standing, hand-made and sourced product as opposed to disposable fast fashion; it’s also a comfort zone for men I know who usually wouldn’t wear burgundy, chinos or knitted snowflake cardigans to express themselves a little more. Just spare me from the po-faced magazines (and the coffee).