It is a bit early for spring/summer, I know. In fact, even for inspiration, the thought of looking at spring shows is bound to send your seasonal depression from ho hum, to full on gloom.
But PRPS made a collection that I wanted to talk about because of the bearded model (and some of the clothing is pretty great too).
PRPS is an indication that the bearded model comes in all shapes and sizes. In this version, the overgrown, free-flying facial hair complements the gritty aesthetic. With the sudden increase in work wear inspired or heritage clothing, it seems as though fashion has embraced the beard as an emblem of masculinity. Whether a beard is a distinct indication of masculinity is still up for debate, but at face value, it is hard to ignore that effect since it becomes a veritable focal point. You’ll likely notice an increase in the desire for burly-men-as-models should our need for nostalgic offerings continue to thrive – post-economic crisis, the demand for quality, nostalgically “made in ____” goods is at an all time high and for that, we look to images of our fathers for inspiration. Our fathers did not walk for Prada (well, most of our fathers didn’t).
And these images are updated, to capture a younger market. Chambray is tailored slim or mixed with gingham (as seen above), finishes are more expensive (the finest zippers and buttons) and models – although burly in a hip, more modern sense – are younger (and older) to frame the notion that a quality, hard-wearing outfit suits the man who wants everything and the man who is content with like-items that mimic his own working (and aging) wardrobe.
As is the case in this look book and a lot of trendy clothing, the idea of weathering or distressing garments often wears away at a good thing. Manufactured grit, by bleaching, staining or tearing will forever cheapen an outfit (it does for me anyway). The bearded model offers the dirt-under-the-fingernails aesthetic without requiring the need to destroy well made clothing. So my advice is, don’t trend up your designs by vomiting design details that no one outside of downtown LA would ever – ever – wear.
PRPS’ simpler looks, like the tan jackets, vests and under-dyed denim suit the bearded man, because the emphasis is on craft by way of their unhindered simplicity. If you’re going to use a beard-o to model work wear, use him well. If he has the frame for it, he can wear anything, but an overwrought, manufactured “worked in” aesthetic will act in competition with your model. So, keep it simple. If you’re looking for a degree of beard contrast, that’s a realm for high conceptual fashion (see: Yamamoto and JPG) and that is arguably the only time it will work (a bearded fella in a bathing suit is not a contrast, just so you know. We swim. We swim a lot).