You can thank David Beckham — or blame him, depending on your point of view.
The Sartorialist, aka photographer/blogger Scott Schuman, had a hand in it. And obviously Tom Ford. And really, centuries of designers and men who cared just a bit more than the average male. But in the end, it's all Becks' doing.
Thanks to him, more and more men are actually paying attention to what they wear. No longer content to throw on that free T-shirt they got with a beer purchase, men are buying fashion magazines, reading fashion blogs and yes, even buying clothes based on fashion. Nowhere is this shocking trend more evident than in the UK.
You see, the man knows how to dress, and he cuts a damn fine figure to boot. Being married to one of the most stylish women in the world certainly forces his hand a bit, but you get the sense that he has a genuine interest in, and decided taste for, the clothes that go on his back.
Great Britain, of course, has a long and rich tradition of excellent tailoring and above-standard men's clothing. But it was not exactly the norm to be fashionable. Credit Beckham and his counterparts for the recent global shift of focus in the way we view men's fashion.
This past summer saw the launch of The London Collections: Men (or LC:M, as GQ dubbed it). LC:M was an entire event devoted to men's fashion, three days of male-focused style that was so big Prince Charles himself hosted a lunch to celebrate the event (a gallery of the prince's style choices is on the event's website).
Considering London's longstanding history of bespoke and high-street style (not to mention the breeding ground that is the fashion college of Central Saint Martins at University of the Arts, London, among others), it only makes sense that London would be a launch pad for menswear into the next level of fashion. Plus the Beckham effect, of course.
Now preparing for a January encore, LC:M is the perfect platform for established menswear designers and newcomers alike to showcase their expertise in a field that, compared to women's fashion, has been historically left by the wayside.
Many of us know and love big names like Burberry, Paul Smith, and Christopher Kane. But it's the opportunity for young British talent to showcase work that makes LC:M so exciting. MAN — a joint operation from established names in the field — proudly supports hand-picked newbies through sponsorship and mentorship (they have a knack for being spot on, too: J.W. Anderson and Christopher Shannon are testament).
In January, all eyes will be on Agi & Sam (ideal client: "Ace Ventura Pet Detective"), Astrid Andersen and Shaun Samson (ideal client: "some guy loitering on the street looking cool") as the three MAN talents of the season.
So, ladies and (especially) gentlemen, welcome to the era of the fashionable male. David Beckham inspired it, Scott Schuman voiced it, and now it feels like all of London is designing it, with The London Collections: Men paving the way for the entire industry to notice. It seems menswear is having its Swayze moment: These days, nobody is putting it in the corner.
by Leigh Bryant
Top: Actor Reggie Yates, model David Gandy and musician Brett Anderson showed their sense of sartorial style at the Spencer Hart Spring/Summer 2013 catwalk show during London Collections: Men in June. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
Upper left: The always-stylish David Beckham launched his own bodywear line for H&M in London earlier this year. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
Lower left: This stylish London chap was photographed on the sidewalk during during the Spring/Summer 2013 catwalk shows at London Collections: Men. (Photo by Kirstin Sinclair/Getty Images)