Men’s fashion tribes: which group do you fall into?
For the modern man, individualism is celebrated and sought-after, although fashion remains tribal and is influenced by lifestyle as much as by taste
From left, ADAM GAFFEY wears a three-piece suit from River Island, shoes from New Look and a shirt from Collar & Cuff; KEITH KENNY wears Dubarry boots, Replay denims, J Lindeberg T-shirt, Replay shirt, and a Guess hooded top; and KYLE CHELDON BARNETT wears a Cos coat and vest, Sun Buddies glasses, Trippen boots, Christopher Raeburn backpack, H&M trousers, and a Craig Green long shirt. Photographs: Eric Luke, Nick Bradshaw, Alan Betson
The Denim Dependant
The Savile Rower
The Couture Conceptualist
Unlike their counterparts in decades past, there is no longer a uniform for the modern man. Individualism is celebrated and sought-after. Men are more aware of the influence of the clothes on their back, and are willing to use their outfits to send a message. Even the most laid-back lad understands that better materials will increase their comfort and that certain styles may not be as flattering as others. (Not every man, clearly, can rock skinny jeans, nor should they feel obliged to try.) But even with all this individualism, fashion remains tribal. Here are three men’s fashion tribes that are influenced by lifestyle as much as taste, and by practicalities as much as trends.
The Savile Rower
The Savile Rower is a new enough man about town in Ireland. He’s a gentleman and a businessman, who understands fashion and is not afraid to use it. This stylish man’s go-to piece is a good suit, and he’s comfortable mixing and matching his pocket square and socks. He exudes poise and wears his clothes, rather than them wearing him.
Adam Gaffey, editor-in-chief of Men’s Fashion Ireland Magazine, perfectly represents this category. “My style changes depending on the events of each day, but I always dress for comfort,” he says. Like any sartorialist, he understands that with comfort comes confidence, and that there is an outfit to feel comfortable in for every occasion.
Gaffey is inspired by London fashion and is a regular in the front rows of London Collections: Men fashion week. His favourite designer is Marjan Pejoski (famous for that swan dress worn by Björk), and the one thing he would never leave home without is his phone. The Savile Rower is typically willing to try out trends, but only within his remit; Gaffey has “been thinking of trying out a jumpsuit look, but that’s a hard one to pull off”. The one thing he will never wear is a pair of flared jeans.
Favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird.
Can’t own enough: Watches.
Signature scent: Dior Fahrenheit Absolute.
Listening to: Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, MNEK.
Staple wardrobe piece: “A nice trenchcoat, over the shoulder or maybe buttoned up. It always works.”
Steal his style: Blue Tweed pea coat €795 Jennifer Rothwell. Southhampton watch €129 Daniel Wellington at Campbell Jewellers
The denim dependent
The dependent is comfortable in his own skin and wouldn’t consider himself much of a follower of fashion, never mind a word he’d never use: “trends”. He loves reliable, traditional materials, and appreciates good tailoring, as long as he’s comfortable. Keith Kenny, a great example of this tribe, explains: “I know what looks and feels good on me and, as a result, I feel confident walking out the front door.”
In keeping with the tribe’s favourite material, Kenny’s wardrobe staple is “a good pair of jeans. Every other item I own is bought to compliment my denim collection.” Replay is his go-to brand when it comes to denim, and he is a fan of DSquared clothing too.
The look of the denim dependent is ageless, outerwear-focused and a touch utilitarian. The lifespan of his clothes is important to him, and he doesn’t mind investing if he knows they’ll last. With this in mind, when he finds what he likes, he sticks to it. “Having found the style that suits me, I prefer to buy quality over quantity,” says Kenny.
The dependent wouldn’t consider himself metrosexual, but he is far more comfortable with looking after himself than the denim dependent of old. “My skin is quite sensitive, so I’ve now realised the importance of spending money on care products,” says Kenny.
When asked about pushing himself outside of his style comfort zone, he admits he has been tempted to wear hats. “But I know they don’t suit me. I still hold on to that dream.”
For fashion advice, Kenny says: “I find men’s editorials to be quite arsey, but enjoy Farfetch and Mr Porter.”
Won’t leave home without: Headphones.
Listening to: Sons of the Sea and the new Incubus EP.
Frequently found in: Honest to Goodness.
Will never wear: Socks with sandals.
Staple wardrobe piece: A good pair of jeans.
Steal his style: Classic fit Billstrong €110 Replay. Dsquared Military Backpack €380 Brown Thomas.
The couture conceptualist lives and breathes fashion. The clothes on his back are art and should be treated with reverence. Fashion designer Kyle Cheldon Barnett embodies this
tribe. “Inspiration can be seen in everything,” he says. “I look at architecture, design, film, fashion, music and art, and they all filter down into some form of personal style.”
The conceptualist has little time for those who abuse fashion. In keeping with this, Barnett says that “we live in an age where men and woman don’t have an excuse to dress poorly. Not everyone has taste, but with the access to Instagram, websites, blogs and so on, it’s easy to build a wardrobe that could work for you.”
For people without a clue, he suggests: “Stay away from prints and focus on your monochromes. I can’t stress the idea of basics enough. I have a deep-rooted aesthetic for all things minimal, and I can honestly say I don’t own one piece of colour in my wardrobe.”
The conceptualist’s Spartan aesthetic also applies to his grooming routine. “I’m very particular when it comes to hair and skin. For my face I use organic avocado oil and nothing else.”
Cos is a beloved brand of the conceptualist. Barnett also loves Acne Studios, Rick Owens, The Row and Yohji Yamamoto as well as Irish designers Rory Parnell-Mooney and Simone Rocha. He would never be seen in a waistcoat – “they just look horrendous on me” – and wouldn’t leave home without “a pair of decent sunglasses. My Sun Buddies Type 2 by Très Bien complete my look.”
Last big purchase: A Craig Green black kimono.
Style tip: If you’re ever in doubt, don’t buy it.
Most visited website: Tres-bien.com, Style.com, Trendland.net.
Would be played in a film by: “Tilda Swinton, my modern-day muse.”
Listening to: Depeche Mode, Miss Kittin, Future Islands.
- Instagram: kylecheldonbarnett
Steal his style: Leather Satin Bomber Jacket €1450 Paul Smith at Brown Thomas. Black kimono €425 Craig Green at Nowhere, 64 Aungier Street and www.anowhereman.com