Monday, March 9, 2009

Designer 101

You hear the names, see the ads and perhaps even own a few pieces of their lines, but do you really know how Kenneth Cole got his start or the role Ralph Lauren played in the fashion void of the 1970s?

Here are some facts behind the label you might not have known.

Ralph Lauren

It’s Lor-en, not La-ren, and in many fashion circles you reveal your ignorance by mispronouncing his name. As a culture we owe much to Ralph Lauren for defining American style. We also have him to blame for the wide-tie craze in the early 1970s, which is now beginning to resurface. But he can be forgiven for this because he continually reinvents classic American fashion within his empire.

When his preppy-inspired suits became too commonplace in the late 1980s he brought out the Purple Label by Ralph Lauren for the 1990s, which fused the best of Savile Row with American sensibility. When the Purple Label became too prolific the Black Label was born, adding a dash of mystery and jet-set cocktail style with supple black leathers and evening wear. If you’re not sure where you fit in with big-name designers, you can’t go wrong with Ralph. His line is so exhaustive and full of colors for various skin tones and body types that any man can walk into one of his stores and walk out with a new wardrobe from head to toe.

Kenneth Cole

You know the name, but do you know he learned the craft of shoemaking with his own hands in Europe before coming home to change the shoe market? Today, Kenneth Cole is still about the shoes, but his leather jackets and accessories -- such as briefcases and watches -- are unbeatable for value, longevity and pure style. If you travel often for work or play, this is the line for you; a Kenneth Cole ensemble looks just as good in Milan as it does in L.A. or Sao Paolo. The cut of the clothes are for the fit and active man on the go, so be sure to visit one of his stores to try on everything.

Giorgio Armani

Forget about the price tags; Armani style is about cut, drape and fabric. The clothing moves with your body and not against it -- as the garments of so many of his imitators often do. He is so well-known today that the name has become code for "money." But the truth is that Armani would prefer you just wore his clothes in your everyday down-to-earth life, which is why he uses muted tones of blue, gray and black in each collection. The clothes are crafted with luxurious Italian simplicity, and once you learn the touch and feel of Armani you can see it coming a mile away.

Dolce & Gabbana

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have transformed casual elegance into pure sexuality. They infuse their clothes with vitality and continental cool. They offer those distressed jeans you’ll need for that weekend getaway to a new city.

D&G denotes a carefree urban lifestyle. Unlike Armani who champions simplicity, D&G is all about being seen and recognized. You wear the clothes as a statement of style-consciousness. But this line is not for everyone; these edgy clothes belong on those who have a bit of edge themselves.

Hugo Boss

Hugo Boss began making raincoats and coveralls for the German workforce in 1923, but didn’t make its first foray into men’s suits until 1953. Since then the line has grown and become known for well-proportioned shoulder drapes in black, dark grays and dark blues.

It is often suggested that a dark blue suit will get any man through any occasion, but sometimes only a black three-button suit will do. This is where Hugo Boss becomes indispensable to your wardrobe. A blue suit might serve you well through a string of summer weddings, but a strong black suit emits power, elegance and, when worn well with a smile, it also conveys confidence. Hugo Boss also has a line of modern sport clothes for tennis, golf and other continental pursuits, but the suit is the most important here. If you need only one suit in your closet that can be paired with white or deep blue shirts and a small collection of subtle ties, your only option is Boss.

Founded in 1856, Thomas Burberry found himself providing clothing for British officers in the First World War after inventing and obtaining a patent for gabardine (a water-resistant fabric). Today, the line is famous and recognizable for its signature plaid of brown, red and dark cream hues. Revamped by Christopher Bailey, the Burberry line contains bespoke suits and sophisticated sport clothes.

The Burberry Golf line is perhaps the best thing to happen to golf attire in over a century. If you have a big outing planned and need to impress, find a pair of Burberry trousers in the classic plaid and pair it with a black or brown golf shirt. Then again, you could just spring for a whole new set of clubs in a Burberry bag with a plaid umbrella and a plethora of accoutrements. To wear Burberry is to revisit classic men’s clothes with updated fabrics and cuts. It’s not quite preppy, but it’s not as modernly brash as D&G either. In short: Burberry is timeless without being stuffy.

A crash course brought to you by the folks at

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1 comment:

Discount Designer Jeans said...

Do people really pronounce it "La-ren"? Wow...I feel like a fashion expert now! Haha.