Sometimes, it’s easy to forget about the story of the clothes you wear everyday – their history and heritage, or perhaps even the people who designed and made them. Lets be honest, when was the last time you stopped and thought about any of that? But over the past few years (coinciding with the rise of the menswear industry as a whole) a handful of quality documentaries have been produced that will ensure you never look at your suit, shoes or jumper in the same way ever again. As entertaining as they are illuminating, here are a few that you should be adding to your Netflix queue.
While "Bill Cunnigham New York" is not a predominately menswear-focused documentary, this is a hugely entertaining flick that must be watched by anyone who can lose hours browsing through street style shots and has ever wondered where the phenomenon stemmed from. The godfather of street style, Bill Cunningham is an elusive photographer known firstly for his trademark blue coat but more importantly for providing the New York Times with decades of style inspiration via his legendary ‘On the Street’ and ‘Evening Hours’ columns. This classy documentary goes inside the reclusive legend’s house and shows how much influence a seemingly quiet, unassuming man has had on the entire global fashion industry. The 99 per cent Rotten Tomatoes score alone should be enough to persuade you to watch it!
While the tagline – ‘the coolest man on earth’ – is up for debate, there’s no denying the irrepressible Ozwald Boateng’s effect on British menswear. Known for his masterful marriage of modern colours and traditional construction techniques, Boateng revitalised Savile Row tailoring during the 1990s, bringing a fresh new energy to what was widely considered a stuffy and stuck in its ways institution. This documentary, "Ozwald Boateng: A Man's Story", takes place over the course of a decade and is a true rags-to-riches tale – following Boateng as he faces ruin at the end of the nineties to his triumphant rise over the past decade. There’s also a wealth of ‘best dressed list’ regulars who cement Boateng’s credentials by praising his work – it’s not often you can say you watched a film that features Daniel Day-Lewis, Jamie Foxx and Prince Charles, but this is it.
Possibly the nicest man in fashion, this official Paul Smith documentary, "Paul Smith: Gentleman Designer", hones in on a unique point in the designer’s life – a success for many years with over 400 stores around the world, the film captures Smith on the cusp of a creative renaissance, which has gone on to define his eponymous brand for a new generation. It’s an inspirational portrait of style over fashion, and the rise of a humble, down-to-earth lad from Nottingham to becoming one of the world’s most important designers, transforming how millions of men dress along the way. Whether you’re a fan of his label or not, the insight into the way Smith approaches his work is fascinating and unlike many designers behind such a huge brand, he’s still very much hands on, directing everything from the styling of models to the prints utilised each season.
So there you have it. Whether you are looking for something to do during the bad weather of the apparent summer or you're looking for inspiration, these three beauties should help you along the way.