Every so often I tend to have a little bit of a crisis. And when I say crisis, I mean a fashion crisis. I started to question my own style (again) and attacked my wardrobe as a response (again). It is a viscous cycle to be honest. However, after much thought I figured it all out. Taking a minimalist approach keeps me happy. I am more than happy to keep things simple. To a certain extent, of course.
We live in an age where almost everything is embellished and over-complicated. Thanks to the internet we now have access to a constant stream of information which, in many ways, is a fantastic thing. But this information overload can also lead us to feel bombarded and confused at times, with endless social sites to communicate with one another on and so many options in terms of what to wear, watch and listen to. This is why many people are deciding to embrace a minimalist approach to their lifestyle. I'm not telling you to throw everything away and go all Zen on me – although, I can see how this way of life could have its benefits – I'm talking about keeping it simple, which ultimately keeps things easy. This is a stress-free approach to life a lot of us guys strive for.
Minimalism branches out to all aspects of life, from the buildings around us to the way we portray ourselves both on and offline. Kanye West’s latest album, Yeezus, was the best album of 2013 due to its sometimes bleak and often unlistenable tracks. What the record has in abundance, though, is a minimal sound. It also had minimal promotion and stripped-back artwork and packaging; the American rapper opted for a clear, empty case revealing an unprinted CD with the record’s information subtly etched into the disc. Even global superstar Beyonce’s new record has been described by critics to have a minimal sound. This aural style complemented the record’s lack of promotion: the XO singer dropped the entire album at once with no prior radio airplay. What wasn't so minimal were her sales, proving that we all can’t get enough of this simplicity.
But how does all of this relate to menswear? Well, we all know that fashion trends are often influenced by the current cultural zeitgeist, so it’s no surprise that we have seen more and more minimalism in menswear. Minimalism in modern menswear has a lot to thank Giorgio Armani for. He was arguably the first designer to popularise a stripped-back and elegantly simple aesthetic, offering straightforward suiting that defined large periods of the 1980s and 1990s. Elsewhere, brands such as Prada, Kris Van Assche, Neil Barrett, Jil Sander, Maison Margiela and Matthew Miller have all adopted the concept and run with it to great effect.
And you should too. For one, it’s very difficult to get minimalism wrong, provided you follow a few basic rules. On top of that, it’s virtually trend-free, meaning it’s not likely to go out of fashion or fall out of favour any time soon. But above all, a minimalist aesthetic is extremely versatile and can be easily adapted to both formal and informal situations with hardly any effort at all. When it comes to everyday dressing, minimalism is all about reaching for quality basics and refining your wardrobe down to pieces that are simple yet stylish.
We all know how complicated modern life can get. With smartphones, tablets, endless genres of music that pop up and constant fashion trends filling the high street – it can all start to make your head spin after a while.However, it’s important to remember that modern technology can also allow things to become more streamlined and beautifully simple. We now have the option to download all our music, books and films digitally, ridding us of all the physical clutter that ultimately ends up gathering dust in our lofts. Minimalism is not so much an architectural or design concept, as a mode of thinking in itself. The basic framework is, characteristically, simple to follow: this is about ascetic clothing rather than aesthetic, which means as little fuss as possible.