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Whether you're sick of tartan or just getting started, plaid's hold over menswear is here to stay—at least for now. In an article published by the Wall Street Journal yesterday, writer Ray A. Smith discusses the Scottish and Irish roots of the bold woven and discusses its current mall-ubiquity using everyone from Michael Bastian to someone's Twitter feed as a source.
Plaid devotees might recall that finding a checked shirt around five years ago was a bit of a challenge—mass-retailers were still coasting on the bold vertical stripes that shot from Paul Smith to the clearance racks of Express post '90s. Then American Heritage happened, J.Crew went hip and Gant came back from the dead—cue that glut of plaid. Some insight:
The plaid mania says a lot about how retailers think when it comes to menswear. A genuine hit that can be sold to all types of men—from those who never read fashion magazines to those who watch live-streamed runway shows—is truly rare. When retailers stumble on something popular, like colorful striped shirts in 2004, they run with it—to the point of oversaturation—on the theory that men don't like drastic change. That's quite different from women's trends, which last for a season or even less. Trends take longer to penetrate a wide swath of men and, consequently, longer to die.
The takeaway: Even if buyers at Macy's and designers at Gant have reached their plaid peak—they're still selling it; at least as long as people keep buying. But in an effort to keep it fresh designers are pushing plaid in new directions: Tonal plaids by Duckie Brown; plaid-over-herringbone from Hickey Freeman; winter madras at Gant; and poplin plaid with suits and ties by Michael Bastian.
And fun fact: Madonna has a signature plaid! Do we see Madonna-plaid Material Girl pants coming soon to Macy's? We certainly hope so.
· Why Fashion Can't Break Its Plaid Habit [WSJ]
· Tommy Ton's Men of Milan, Florence and Paris: Holy Plaid [RNA]