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The Problem With ‘Something for Everyone’

Is the proliferation of this meaningless phrase lazy writing — or lazy designing?

There cannot and should not be "something for everyone." A restaurant with a menu the size of the book that claims to offer you American, Chinese, French, and Italian probably isn’t serving up five-star cuisine. A movie focus-grouped to death in order to hit all the "demos" is called Suicide Squad, and we know how that turned out. And a fashion designer — whose mission is to create cohesion, a vision, a unique style — should not be rewarded for putting together a collection as universally beloved as white bread. I haven’t read the words "aesthetic" and "vibes" this many times so that we can praise collections trying to do it all.

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The phrase "something for everyone" plagues menswear blogs, and fashion in general to an extent. I am guilty (and ashamed) of writing it in a headline myself. The phrase pops up too frequently across menswear sites Hypebeast, Highsnobiety, Complex, and GQ. There were at least 45 instances of the phrase "something for everyone" across these sites since 2011 — only once on GQ ("Supreme Spring-Summer 2015 Has Something For Everyone"), four on Hypebeast ("A Bathing Ape's 2016 Fall/Winter Collection Has a Little Bit of Something for Everyone"), 17 on Complex ("Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang Join A Bathing Ape for a New Collaboration That Has Something for Everyone"), and 24 were counted on Highsnobiety before I moved on ("the POOL aoyama’s "IN THE HOUSE" Collection Has Something for Everyone").

Photo: Supreme

This is especially absurd when you consider some of the collections that were being written about. The line is used to describe Palm Angels’ psychedelic spring 2017 collection that features overalls, shredded acid-washed denim, a tiger-print coat, and a rainbow-striped knit tank top. There is something for one person in that collection, and he or she is currently drifting around Venice Beach looking for work. Another post used the line in reference to a sneaker release. It was one sneaker silhouette in two different kinds of camo, blue, and traditional green. That is a pinhole-sized view of "everyone."

The one popular menswear outlet that emerged from this survey unscathed was Esquire. The publication’s style director, Jonathan Evans, says that although it’s not on any banned phrases list, it’s natural to avoid it. "When we do specifically cover something, it's because they're offering something you haven't seen before and hopefully our reader hasn't seen before that we think is valuable," Evans says. "If the only value proposition is that they have something for everyone, it's probably not going to meet the initial criteria of: Should we talk about this or not?"

While it’s an easy phrase for people to gravitate to when grasping for ways to talk about a collection, and that’s on critics, that laziness has to be borne out of something, and that something is probably uninteresting clothes. Speaking only from personal experience, it feels a bit like a subtweet hidden in a seemingly complimentary, "It’s-a-Small-World-After-All" headline. No one would use this phrase to describe collections from Gucci, Vetements, Raf Simons, Rick Owens, or any other slobbered-over designer. There’s no amount of tired end-of-the-day blogging that could lead someone to declare that there’s something for everyone in any halfway decent collection. "What should be celebrated is a specific point of view, something that's different, something that's a breath of fresh air that actually presents something you don't see every day," Evans says. "No one is going to talk about how Comme des Garçons has something for everyone."

And while there certainly are some instances when that phrase is acceptable — GQ describing Supreme’s legendarily massive drops this way is passable, as a range of basic items could certainly have something for everyone — it’s not hard to pin some of the worse offenders on tame collections. "If every brand sincerely had something for everyone it would probably just be a really unfortunate watering down of these myriad perspectives," Evans explains. "So it's definitely not something I think brands should necessarily aspire to, from a fashion perspective."

Photo: Palm Angels

Saying there’s "something for everyone" can really mean there’s something for no one. A bland mélange that incites nothing out of consumers and the people paid to talk or write about clothes — what’s that Kanye West line? "I'd be worried if they said nothing." Fashion designers should be worried about the same — make people love you, or at least hate you.

Although brands might not be pleasing the fashion set with something for everyone, it’s entirely possible they are looking out for their bottom lines. While Evans and I were in total agreement on the phrase — comparing these collections to elevator music or hotel room art, Evans says they can be "almost offensive by virtue of striving to be inoffensive" — Chris Gibbs, a buyer from Union Los Angeles, saw it totally differently. "I have never seen the term ‘something for everyone’ as a negative," he says. "That just means that a particular collection is diverse… Look at ‘high fashion’ brands. In the past, a lot of people would not try and approach these brands because they were marketed and promoted (and priced) in a way that intimidated the average consumer. But we found that we could do a buy that would break down those walls."

Interestingly, Gibbs brings up the exact same brand Evans did to illustrate his point. "Not everything from Comme des Garçons, for example, is crazy and directional," Gibbs explains. "They make a lot of beautiful clothing. And a lot of it is quite digestible to your average consumer."

Buyers, then, might be the reason brands see some virtue in making something for everyone. If a store can sell something to the average dude, the streetwear fan, and the high-fashion guy all at the same time, that means more potential customers. So brands do get rewarded for making more generic clothing and, maybe best of all, avoid the negative feedback as well. "These brands have a lot of pressure on them and I wouldn't be surprised if some of them choose to reign things in and be less specific in their point of view in order to avoid negative feedback and encourage conversation around them," Evans says.

The reactions to "something for everyone" seem more divisive than the collections the phrase actually describes. Stores want something for everyone because it opens up the widest possible customer base. Fashion designers may be tempted to create something in order to cater to as many people as possible. But to editors and writers, it remains a nonsense phrase that conveys there probably wasn’t anything more interesting to say about a collection. It probably doesn’t matter to consumers, who don’t need to consider who a collection is for before making a purchase. But when you as a consumer see that a collection has something for everyone, it’s worth a closer look to see if that means you.

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