• Fashion showdown? J’accuse!

    • Conventional depiction of well-dressed man.
    • More realistic depiction of well-dressed man. Image credit: iStockphoto
    Date:8 November 2012 Author: Alan Duggan Tags:,

    As one of South Africa’s fashion icons, I’m outraged at my exclusion from GQ magazine’s annual “Best Dressed Men” showdown. I have no axe to grind with its editor, a nice guy who does a good job, but it needs to be said that this one glaring omission makes rubbish of the entire competition. I’ll go a step further: they deliberately ignored me because I would have blown them away.

    Compounding the error, a recent issue of Business Report ran an article about the GQ event in which three of the country’s “most stylish businessmen” discussed their sartorial idiosyncrasies – again, without consulting me. First up was Khaya Dludla of Ernst & Young, who proffered the following gem: “Most of all, don’t be a label whore.” He went on to advise all men to own something by a person named Paul Smith, whom I’ve never heard of (unless he’s that hyperkinetic Brit who collects toy robots, rabbits and sugar cubes?).

    It got worse when GQ asked this question: “What is a man’s greatest asset and how should he show it off?” Obviously caught unawares, Dludla wittered on about clothing, humour, alcohol consumption and “sensitivity”. Duh, Dludla! A man’s greatest asset is clearly his willy, and it’s best shown off in the shower.

    Rens Rademeyer, general manager at Bentley South Africa, asserted that Bentley salespeople should always wear clothes designed by the same Paul Smith (he also confessed to once owning a Paul Smith bathing costume; go figure). Confronted with the “man’s greatest asset” question, he got it even more wrong, opting for such wishy washy concepts as “perseverance and willpower”. Sorry, Rens: it’s still the willy.

    Finally, it was the turn of T-BO Touch, described as a DJ and chief executive at Trademark Entertainment, who really lost the plot. Asked which item he would save from his wardrobe if his house was burning down, he cited his passport (perfectly sensible) and his imported Roberto Nuevo underwear (seriously weird). As if this wasn’t enough, he went on to reveal that Ephraim Molingoana was the only designer that “understands how to fit my body”. Frankly, this is not the sort of thing I’d care to confess in a public forum.

    Against that, we are informed by Men’s Wearhouse, which conducted a nationwide survey of clothes-conscious Americans last year, that well-dressed men are not only viewed as sexier, smarter, more successful and better-liked, but also fare better in relationships. Here’s the thing that really gets my goat: they also found that females will sacrifice a lot for style.

    Apparently 80 per cent of women would give up something in their lives – such as going out for dinner, using their cellphone or even having sex for an entire year – in exchange  for a better-dressed partner. And an astounding 85 per cent think a guy who dresses well is sexier than one who has a lot of money.

    While you ponder this, I respectfully submit my own, eminently more sensible responses to GQ’s questionnaire, and strongly urge the organisers of next year’s “Best Dressed” competition to get in touch while there’s still time:

    Any advice on becoming a best dresser?
    Never tell people you’re wearing a certain label, no matter how much you paid for it. If a particular label actually gives you a frisson, you’re one small step from wearing moisturiser and getting in touch with your feelings.

    Which international celebrity stole your look?
    Chuck Norris.

    Every man should own a…?
    Multitool with an attachment for sawing off people’s legs in the event of an emergency.

    Every man should own something by which design label?
    Bosch.

    What’s the most important thing you ever learned about getting dressed?
    This isn’t original, but it remains good advice: put on your socks before your shoes.

    What is a man’s greatest asset and how should he show it off?
    Been there…

    How does your work influence your personal style?
    It informs and resonates with everything I wear, from my auto-darkening welding helmet to my non-skid boots.

    What can you say about the way that South African men dress?
    They manifest the understated style and endearing self-deprecation that we’ve come to associate with megastars such as Donald Trump. My jealousy knows no bounds.