What is Steampunk Tailoring?

I’ve discovered during the years that most modern fashion… sucks. This was originally a quick reply to customer, but it quickly turned into one of my rants. What a perfect opportunity to introduce my new blog.

Someone just showed me an eBay listing of an “artisan” men’s designer piece for $2,000 USD. Someone took a greatcoat pattern, made a poor, unstructured replica, ran it through the spin cycle and called it an art statement. Well, if they’re trying to say today’s trade is in a state of ruin, job well done. It’s hard not to act curmudgeonly the more educated I become on the men’s clothing history. The chain of tradition is broken, and we’re left with overpriced baggy sacks. These sacks are the ruins of ancient ornate temples built by craftsmen with skills higher than any fashion designer holds today, and we’re picking up the pieces from dusty drawings and relics.

“PICK UP YOUR BAGGY SACK! ON SALE FOR $2,000!!”

There are many things things that caused this to happen, but I can point out three, and they’re all tied in with each other. Loftiness, Ignorance, and Economy of Scale.

I’ve witnessed the uncompromising attitudes of some established tradesmen. There is this cultural edict that what has been established is so sacrosanct it is taboo to suggest change. There’s a lack of innovation in men’s tailoring. The latest stuff to come out of trade shows is pitiful. A misplaced pocket square here; an extra seam there. Apart from the talented and esteemed Davide Taub, I have not seen that much innovation. And rightly so? I mean, we have a fortress to uphold, dammit! The drills of Abercrombie & Fitch are reverberating through our walls! We must fortify! The attitude trickles down to the enthusiast community with attitudes so lofty they’ve reached marbleshitting status.

But it’s not like the market isn’t trying to reach the average consumer, though. The Savile Row Association has been trying desperately for ten years now to get the average Joe to enter the fortress. Meanwhile, I see so much confusion and chaos about basic things like styles. There really ought to be an online Tailoring Encyclopedia. In fact, I think I’ll make one. Oh wait, that’s been on my to-do list for… years. Hm.

We have the technology. Now we just need the will and manpower to use it. That is what I think is going to help revolutionize things. By making the trade accessible we can turn the tide, but we need to keep an open mind if it’s to happen. Before the Justaucorp, noblemen wore Doublets and Trunkhose. Are we waiting for another explosion to happen? That’s what it looks like. I mean half of these garments LOOK like they were in an explosion.

This is what I think Steampunk is about. People have begun to appreciate what once was. There are two camps in steampunk: the bargain bin divers and the fashion divas. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, either. Whichever side you’re on, you can’t deny there is energy. If this enthusiasm can be harnessed and focused, perhaps some real change can occur.

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