We’ve spent months—many, many months—of the year living through a pandemic, and we’re well into the hottest months of year when wearing any clothing is less than ideal. So, should men shop for clothes right now? And if so, what the hell should guys actually buy? That’s the question that’s been on our minds lately here at Men’s Health.
With the recent bankruptcy news from Men’s Warehouse, it’s evident that men have a much-decreased need for professional suiting. But what about everything else? We’re moved past the sweatpants phase of quarantine living and some say men are investing in timeless clothes in lieu of hyped-up, limited-release, trend-driven gear. But unlike the pre-COVID-19 days when new clothing purchases felt good, most men are taking a long pause, pondering their rationale for spending money on any style item, and inevitably restraining themselves from smashing that buy button.
“For me personally, getting new clothes is always fun and uplifting,” says Sam Lobban, SVP of Designer and New Concepts at Nordstrom, while discussing the latest New Concepts collection and collaboration with New York-based clothing brand Noah for the leading fashion retailer. “I always subscribe to the idea of guys dressing for themselves, as I definitely do. Find a style or aesthetic that you’re into and run with it. This makes building a wardrobe over multiple years—and not just based on seasonal trends—much easier.”
Women are more typically asked the question “Do you dress for yourself or dress for others?” However, in these times of social distancing and cancelled plans, men are being put in a position to ask themselves the same thing.
“Noah makes great products at a great price, with a strong message and ethic behind the brand,” says Lobban. “The collection feels very relevant to summer, even if that is disproportionately spent at home, and our hope is that people might find something here that lifts their spirits with everything going on in the world!”
For guys who dress for themselves, Nordstrom’s Concept 011: Noah couldn’t come at a better time. Noah—a small, independent fashion brand co-founded by Brendon Babenzien and Estelle Bailey-Babenzien—stands by a brand ethos of conscious consumption, as well as social and environmental awareness. This typically conflicts with the goals of a large retailer and is part of the reason why the brand would normally shy away from such a partnership. But that all changed with Lobban and New Concepts, which acts as a platform to share a brand’s messaging with a new, much larger audience.
For guys unfamiliar with the label designed by the former creative director of Supreme, Noah has grown a cult-like following for their post-streetwear clothing and accessories that grown men can feel cool wearing, and not because they’re told it’s cool by others. Their flattering duds take inspiration from skate and surf culture with a heavy dose of prep, but not in the Nantucket set sort of way. They’re simply stylish silhouettes with exciting color-blocking details, rugby stripes, and other fun design tweaks that allow you to flex outside of basic neutrals and navy, while not appearing obnoxious or try hard. You wear them with ease and you can wear them with a fresh pair of Nikes.
Concept 011: Noah features a wide range of offerings that you’ll not only feel excited about today, but will continue to be become MVPs in your wardrobe for seasons to come. Standouts include the bold rugby-striped polo shirts, timeless sunglasses, and pastel-colored tees and volley shorts that are the perfect equation for effortlessly cool summer style. There’s even a range of seriously dope lifestyle products, from a beater board with a B-52’s graphic to a skull crest growler.
Noah’s not about selling clothes for the sake of selling clothes, it’s about a way of living that cool guys have easily connected with, and each purchase builds upon that lifestyle.
“I’m mostly excited about the ability to reach more people and communicate some of what we believe,” says Babenzien of the launch. “Businesses and consumers have the ability to make the changes that the world needs. Can two organizations with seemingly very different end goals and operations work together successfully? This is quite an important thing. It’s not just about selling clothes. It’s about expanding our messaging to more people in order to change how we view consumption and how we do business generally.”
If the collection is as exciting for you as it is for us, consider a purchase from this collaboration to be something you can confidently stand behind, without a need to pause and ponder.
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