Hey, I'm as big a fan of Mad Men
as the next guy, really. Sadly, my wife and I have fallen really on the show, leaving off somewhere mid-third season. But we are planning on catching up real soon, because it is an amazing show.
Sure, there's the great set design, the beautiful early '60s costuming, the solid writing, and, of course, all those great characters. But, heck, I was sold by the first episode when they referenced the famous
Volkswagen 'lemon' ad
, which is generally credited for shifting the tone of
advertising to a more 'hip' sensibility in the early '60s. (If interested in this subject,
look up Thomas Frank's Conquest of Cool
book... yes, I'm a nerd for this stuff.) Over 50 years later, advertisements have pushed the idea of 'hip' way past its breaking point.
And, what's hip these days? Yup, you guessed it: Mod! (To paraphrase my wife, "'Mod' is this season's black.") And what show is delving into the American 'Mod' era of the 1960s? Yup, you know it: Mad Men
! So, it makes perfect sense to sell people a hip new line of clothing inspired by 'mod' as filtered through Mad Men
It really is weird, if you think about it, though. One of my first posts, way back in 2011, gave slight mention
of the influence Mad Men
was having on men's fashion. It wasn't the only influence, but it was a good one! Finally, suits were more fitted, lapels were slimmer, trousers were more narrow. No, Mad Men
wasn't having a direct major influence on men's style, but it was contributing to a changing approach to a 'new' look for men. Words like 'retro,' European fit,' and 'slim fit' were tossed around to describe this look.
My guess is that, in time, people are just going to refer to this look as (the catch-all) 'mod.' And you'll probably be able to thank Mad Men
and Banana Republic for that. You see, the big news all around is that Banana Republic has released an official Mad Men
-licensed 'mod' line of clothing! Yup, Mad Men
is about to have a very direct influence on men's style.
People are going to be walking around in clothing inspired by the clothing worn on a television show inspired by the clothing worn by real people in the 1960s. Talk about 'life imitating art imitating life!'
Now the weird thing is how the whole 'mod' thing plays into this. You know the basic history of the culture that developed with English youth in the 1960s and remained relatively 'underground' until the media exploitation of "Modsversusrockers." This, of course, led to a commercial bonanza with 'Swinging London,' the 'Swinging Sixties,' and a whole world gone 'MOD'!
Soon, 'mod' found its way to the United States, no longer really used as a noun to describe those English kids, but rather as an adjective used to describe pretty much anything new and 'hip.' And the the American youth ate it up! Feeding them all the 'mod' they wanted were companies mastering all those new hip techniques of advertising.
Stuffy old adults just looked upon this as another teenage craze. In time, though, even those adults fell into the Mod pool. After a few years, their uptight clothing choices became more free, youthful and, yup, mod!
|Modnick slacks & shirts for the older man. |
(And remember, in the 1960s, 'older man' probably meant anyone older than 25!)
And this is where Mad Men
comes in. Think about it. The characters on Mad Men
aren't young (by 1960s standards). The 'mod' look they're about to be wearing in this new season is what people their age would have been wearing in the 1960s, a look that was no longer that cool with 'hip' American youth. If you were an American kid in the 1960s, would you have wanted your parents dressing like you?
Now, don't get me wrong... you all know I LOVE the Mod look! But let's be real here. Banana Republic is releasing a 'mod' line of clothing based on what un-hip
adults would have been wearing in the United States in the late 1960s.
|I know, Pete Campbell, right?|
And, boy, is Banana Republic going for it! "Mad For Mod
" is the tagline for the ad campaign. But mad for what kind of 'mod'? This type of '
Hey, look, the clothing isn't bad, really. For new clothing, it's quite nice. You wouldn't expect anything less from Banana Republic, which has developed a well-earned reputation over the years. But when it comes to "Mad For Mod," I'm not sold. Other than a slim fit, the men's line doesn't do a whole lot for me. The women's line looks a bit nicer, of course, what with the geometric shapes and bright colors and all.
But what all this does is make me wonder what this means for those of us already into this Mod thing. Are you going to walk around in Banana Republic Mad Men® (yes, all rights reserved) attire?
My wife pointed out a key reason why she'd avoid the women's selections
of this new 'mod' line: "Are you kidding? The minute you show up in one of
those pieces, everyone will know. 'Hey, she's wearing a Mad Men dress!'" Heck, imagine showing up to a party in your new chic Mad Men-approved dress and finding one or two other women in the same exact dress? Quelle horreur!
Plus, for me, it'd be a little weird buying clothes based on a fashion designer's interpretation of 1960s styles found on a television show taking place in an era I've been interpreting on my own all this time. It'd be like rockabilly people buying a line of clothing based on Happy Days. Steampunk people buying a line of clothing based on Wild, Wild West. Or, I don't know, gothic people buying a line of clothing based on Twilight (don't know if this analogy makes sense, but I like it)
But hey, always look on the bright side, right? When you're walking down the street you'll be hearing a lot less "Hey,
it's a Beatle!" Instead, that'll be replaced with "Hey, it's a Mad
Men!" And, you won't have to bother explaining what you're about to strangers anymore. "Oh, I know what a Mod is. Mad Men, right?"
The flip side of that is that in a few years time, when mainstream fashion has moved away from the "Mad For Mod" look, you'll get to hear comments like, "Hey! 2013 called. It wants its Mad Men clothes back!"
But in the end, if I'm being honest with myself... yeah, I'll probably be looking for one of those Mad Men ties in the sales bins.
Besides, somehow we survived The Nanny going 'Mod' in the '90s. We'll survive this too.