Josh Sims interview


Earlier this week I reviewed Josh Sim’s new book Icons of Men’s Style. I caught up with the established fashion writer to pose him some sartorial questions:

How do you think men’s approach to style differs from women’s?
Well I think their approach to style is much the same. But their approach to fashion, to draw the distinction, is very different. On the whole I think women are much more concerned with being current and I honestly think most men over 25 don’t care. They are excited by clothing rather than fashion. Really seasonal men’s catwalk trends are all marketing now – they have very little the bearing on what men then go and wear.


Do you think there is less variety and choice within menswear than womenswear. Do you think this is perhaps why more attention is paid to finishes and detailing on men’s clothing?  
There is less variety and choice for men but largely because if men were given the variety – floral pantaloons, fishnets etc – they wouldnt wear it. Men seek reassurance in the staples on which the men’s wardrobe is built. You’re dead right – this is exactly why men interested in clothes tend to be interested in the details of make in a way women tend not to understand: why this kind of button is there and not there. It’s anal stuff.


What influence has British style had on US style, and what have we in turn inherited from the US?
The US have given the UK the casualisation of dress – sportswear in the US sense. The impact of that would be hard to underplay. But I think the US is largely devoid of style cultures in the way the UK has fostered many – skins, punk, ska, mod etc., which continues until today. Whether these have had any impact on the US is hard to say but it’s certainly had a huge impact on menswear generally.


How would you define the term ‘preppy’?
Preppy is I think almost the ideal men’s style – it’s neat without being uptight, casual without being scruffy. You can meet your mother in law in preppy without feeling like you’re dressed to see your bank manager.


Some of the icons you discuss in the book were borne out of practical innovations such as the Barbour waxed jacket, the Mackintosh coat or the Sperry boat shoe. Do you think the current men’s wardrobe staples are now set in stone or do you think future innovations will eventually be accepted into the pantheon of men’s style? 
I think the best of the male wardrobe has already been designed- the pieces in the book are the product of decades of evolution and are still with us. What is left to add? Perhaps some garment designed as a result of technical textiles innovation might lead to some kind of all purpose super lightweight, fully waterproof, completely breathable, but also warm jacket but it will be a while before it enters the canon.  When it comes I’m buying.


Josh Sims is a freelance style writer, contributing to the likes of Esquire, GQ, Wallpaper and i-D, The Financial Times, The Independent, Channel 4 and the BBC. He is also author of Rock/Fashion (Omnibus), A Dictionary of Fashion Designers (Collins) and contributor to several fashion books from Taschen.

Icons of Men’s Style is out now published by Laurence King

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July 2011