Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A user's guide to men's clothing forums: AskAndy, Styleforum, London Lounge, Fedora Lounge

For the uninitiated, let me briefly introduce the world of online men's clothing forums. In 2009, these forums are perhaps not as exciting, novel or addictive as they were back in 2003 or 2004 when I first came across them. But very often these online forums are the "gateway drug" to sartorial enlightenment for many of us. More than a few duckbill-shoe wearers and designer fashion fanboys among us have stumbled upon one or more of these forums and emerged more informed and knowledgeable about the rudiments of clothing manufacture and construction. Some have even refined their sense of judgment or sense of style by reading and participating in these forums.

With the benefit of hindsight and some distance, I have taken it upon myself to compare the forums along a few criteria. A brief comment on my rating categories. "Groupthink" might be viewed strictly as negative. However, groupthink is also a measure of likemindedness, which may or may not be a negative quality. If thought-provoking, it serves to educate. If persuasive, it can confirm or support uncertain conjectures on your part. If the groupthink is silly, then sit back and enjoy the show!


- Laugh/entertainment value: Low
- Level of groupthink: Medium (high for trad subforum)
- Level of forum-specific jargon: Low
- Newbie friendliness: Medium-high (low snark)
- Prominence/influence of "power" members: Medium
- A sampling of my favorite threads: The Neapolitan shoulder explained, soft v. hard tailoring in Savile Row explained by a now infamous tailor, London city gents in the 1950s


- Laugh/entertainment value: High due to insider jokes and/or copious sarcasm
- Level of groupthink: High
- Level of forum-specific jargon: Very high. Recent coinages include the "iGent". In fact, I suspect the amount of insider sidebar discussions on threads among SF veterans can be rather distracting or induce head scratching for the newcomer.
- Newbie friendliness: Low (high snark)
- Prominence/influence of "power" members: High
- A sampling of my favorite threads: "A tale of two shoes" or a photo essay on resoling and refinishing a pair of shoes, London Cut exhibition photos

London Lounge

- Laugh/entertainment value: Low
- Level of groupthink: High
- Level of forum-specific jargon: Low
- Newbie friendliness: Medium
- Prominence/influence of "power" members: High
- A sampling of my favorite threads: The scoop on Frederick Scholte, the "which silhouette?" thread by uppercase featuring several Italian tailors

Fedora Lounge

- Laugh/entertainment value: Low
- Level of groupthink: Extremely high
- Level of forum-specific jargon: Low
- Newbie friendliness: High (low to microscopic levels of snark)
- Prominence/influence of "power" members: High
- A sampling of my favorite threads: Recommended vintage fedora brands, recommended custom hatmakers

So how do you rate the different forums?

For a break from the occasionally overheated self-indulgences of the men's clothing forums, get an invite and check out Fashion Spot where guys and gals but mostly gals talk about their favorite models and designers.


Speedmaster said...

Great summary!! ;-)

Robin said...

I think "iGent" originated from the Film Noir Buff forums... They might be sad that you left them out. :)

Terry said...

I would add Film Noir Buff to the list. A mix of lunatics, marginalized fringe posters, and the occasional lucid, articulate post. The essays by FNB are well written, well researched, and free of commercial or delusional thinking.

sleevehead said...

Speedmaster - Thanks, I may have to spend a bit more time and dig up the most entertaining threads I have read over the years from each forum.

Robin - Indeed, how could I forgot FNB? Yes, I think you're right. I seem to remember SF members borrowing the term iGent from FNB, ironically of course. But I'm not so sure the attempt to appropriate the term ironically has been very successful!

Terry - I have visited FNB now and then as a lurker though not so much recently. For a proper comparison, I will have to sign up and become a full member. Hmm, among lunacy, marginalization and occasional lucidity, which poison shall I pick? :)

sleevehead said...

Interesting - Here's a link to FNB's thread on my little comparison of men's forums.

Anonymous said...

All forums mentioned above are populated by people who think wearing hats, or pocketwatches, or pink suits is ok. For that reason alone, no serious man who wants to look at all "normal" in his daily life should get any advice from any of those forums. The folks who post on those forums are virgins and will stay that way.

Anonymous said...

AskAndy does have a bit of jargon, mostly in the way of abbreviations (OCDB, BB, SPBL, etc.) I would agree that it's less pronounced than at StyleForum.

Robert said...

I actually belong to styleforum! Commented on a couple of threads there, but they seem to do a lot of talking about other things than clothing. I am definitely going to try out those others. Thanks for the suggestion on some other forums. I will check them out.

rothco said...

Very nice post i really appreciate it.

Mens Clothing said...

If a certain thread in a forum is very active, has brainstorming on a certain topic and gives conclusion to a thread, that's where I give a forum a high score or rate. And the best forum for me is the Fedora Lounge.

Adam Smith said...

nice post. Thanks for this interesting information that you have posted here. Keep it up.

made to measure said...

I may have find this a bit late - just want to share my experience with AskAndy. People are nice and easy to joke with, but when fashion is in question, you should be aware that they take this topic seriously - so no fooling around. :)