Part 1: „Maybe the beard might demonstrate that men want to be men“
May 14, 2016
In the first part of the three-part interview series Bernhard Roetzel comments on the "hipster", beards and the role of accessories
Mr. Roetzel, 17 years have passed since the very first edition of your book, seven years since the last update. What has changed in the manly world of fashion?
On the one hand, you can observe a decline of fashion manners. Men appear more and more informal, intentionally and also out of by ignorance. On the other hand, there are more and more young and even very young men, who are extremely interested in fashion and especially prone to the classic style. Often these men are very well informed.
Since several years there is the phenomenon of the „hipster“, who has a special style. Is there are development towards standing-out, towards individuality?
The so-called hipster belongs to the group of interested and informed men, since playing with features of different style movements and with fashion references requires some understanding of fashion history and pop culture. For sure the hipster wants to stand out, but how individual each one is, is another question. Genuine individuality, however, is very rare and actually not so much in demand. After all humans are social beings, who don’t want to be excluded.
Barbershops are on the advance. In your book you dedicate many pages to beard and hair questions, the „hipster“ often has an eye-catching beard, too. What can men communicate with hair style and beard?
At any time, hair and beard were important tools of expression; maybe even the most important ones. We are able to use them for communication even without garments. The full beard might underscore masculinity, since women are incapable to imitate it. Thus, in the 19th century the full beard was a reaction towards the beginning women’s movement. Maybe it is meant to demonstrate this even today, that men, despite changed roles, want to be men.
What’s new in your book: A double page about pomade! What is the appeal of this special form of hairdressing for gentlemen?
In the first half of the 20th century, pomade was an expression of well-groomed appearance. Hair was taimed just as shoes were polished. In the 1960s there was a hairstyle revolution, which changed everything. The hair was not combed out of the face any more and the neck was shaved. To the contrary: It was falling in one’s eyes, the neck was shaved. Pomade was superfluous. In recent times, the hair is supposed to be controlled again, since shape is wanted again by some men.
„Accessories are the outfit’s spice“
The longest chapter is about accessories. How important are they for a man’s style?
Accessories emphasize important things. They are, so to say, the outfit’s spice. For the fashion industry accessories are one of the few and most important growing markets among the range of clothing for many years now.
You cover a wide spectrum in your book: shoes, suits, business shirts, grooming, watches and accessories. What do love men the most?
To the best of my observation, shoes are on top. I see that when it comes to my posts on the internet. If they deal with shoes, they will get the most attention.
Do the details of one’s clothing or the basic decision for a particular garment have a the major impact on the appearance?
It depends on the interplay. Generally, at first there is the decision for the general line: suit or smart casual, dinner jacket or dark suit. The question of details comes up at a later stage: for instance the colour of the socks or the pattern of the pocket square.
What is special about business fashion?
In this context you always have to weigh up uniformity against individuality. You are allowed to display the latter in the close limits of conventions. This is an art less and less men are able to master.
You downgraded Barbour in the new edition of your book. Why?
Barbour has changed a lot. From the brand’s point of view this might have been neccessary. Barbour was not able to survive by addressing only a shrinking group of England lovers and genuine Sloane Rangers. But of course, by extending their range a part of the charme got lost. The new customers do not notice that. And as for the few which mind having the writing only the pocket flap, the company might not care about them. Indeed, I do wear only old Barbour jackets.
The second part will be published May 21, 2016 at 10 am, Berlin time. Newsletter subscribers will get the interview already friday night at 8 pm.
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