June 26, 2015

Editorializing for the Masses

or “Why I Cancelled My GQ Subscription.”

Okay, so I haven’t actually cancelled it yet, but it’s right up there on my list of things to do between booking my next tattoo consultation and going to the dentist. A large part of my dissatisfaction with GQ is indicative of my feeling that our society as a whole has become too casual. Not just in dress, but in speech, manners, and general social interactions. Now obviously I don’t think GQ is responsible for the breakdown of polite society, but rather than bucking the trend and striving to be a benchmark, setting the sartorial bar high for their readers, each month I witness an increase in the degree of pandering that occurs.

I’ve noticed what to me seems like a slow decline in the quality (not to mention quantity) of editorial style content over the last few years and a rise in the presence of articles with questionable levels of impartiality. Now, I get it, surviving as a moneymaking print enterprise is tough these days. More than tough, it’s a Herculean feat and endorsing things that appeal to the mass population makes perfect business sense. I can’t begrudge the editorial staff for wanting to stay employed but the level of transparency as to what is essentially sponsored content is becoming much more difficult to discern.

For a magazine whose name became a colloquialism for the well-dressed man, there seems to be a dearth of that signature aesthetic. I see a huge push in support of the latest casual streetwear trends, like the rise of joggers and their place in dress attire, or suspect style advice, like a groom wearing Vans to his wedding. In a recent 168-page issue of the magazine whose tag line is ‘Look Sharp + Live Smart,’ there are, generously, 40 pages of men’s style related things (this includes the entire 14-page spread on traveling to Cuba) that are original, non-advertising content.

I can’t just lay the blame on GQ’s doorstep, ring the doorbell, and walk away. And that’s not what this post is intended to do. I understand that it is a symptom of our culture; the instant everything; the ever-shortening attention spans; the need to provide coverage of everything lest someone get bored; the rise of a society where people become famous and wield undue influence on a young population who never knew a world without the internet.

Maybe that is both the problem and the solution. A double-edged sword. The rise of bloggers and independent magazines shows that the need was there for something beyond the status quo when it came to men’s style, and there are some really great people out there producing incredible content. The issue arises when the market becomes so diversified that the audience becomes too segmented and the major publications try to cater to the trend instead of setting it.

People who are only interested in tailored clothing can find enough sources to sate their appetite without ever having to read another point of view. The same goes for streetwear enthusiasts or those with an edgier style. If you are not challenged with content and opinions that you don’t agree with, then you lose the opportunity to expand your outlook and solidify your own style.

There are the old sayings ‘dress for the job you want’ and ‘the clothes make the man’ and to a certain extent, they hold true. The clothes you wear affect your carriage and deportment. They impact how others see you and, even more importantly, how you see yourself. Another popular saying is ‘don’t judge a book by its cover,’ but unfortunately that is how we are programmed. We judge, and we judge quickly. You never know whom you are going to meet, so I feel you should always look presentable. One look at my blog will tell you that I don’t think that means wearing a suit all day, every day. I would love to do that, but for the work I do it is just not practical all the time. You can be comfortable and casual, but there is a line and on the other side of that line is too casual.

I guess my whole point in writing this article is that I wish more entities with as wide and entrenched an audience as GQ would live up to the reputation that they themselves established and help guide the new generations towards an elevated sense of style in dress. Convincing their readers that sweatpants are acceptable daily wear is to me a disservice. At the risk of throwing one too many clich├ęs into this post, you only get one first impression.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading my diatribe. And stay stylish,

- JJ 

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