As we start the new year, it’s time for new goals. Historically, DC has not been a place of fashion but it does have a timeless style. The beauty of the DMV area is the diversity of its people. They come from not only across the U.S. but from around the world. While this offers many strengths, there is a lack of coordination and consistency in attire, even in this ‘one company town’. The one real upside of DC is the requirement to dress up. While many other parts of the country are moving toward a casual environment in the workplace, Congress maintains its Brooks Brothers conservatism with navy and charcoal suits along with white or blue shirts. With that being said, any organization, be it lobbyists, think tanks or trade associations all must adhere to the culture of ‘The Hill’. Well, at least that’s the case when they have appointments.
DC’s wealth has mostly resided in the suburbs of Virginia and Maryland. The District has a long history of violence and crime with pockets of impoverished people but recent policies are changing those neighborhoods through gentrification. As more organizations seek to influence Congress, more money flows into the DMV with real estate development and trickle down changes with more way for one to spend their money.
This has a major impact on menswear. Congressional staff pay has been deflationary over the decades so while these young professionals are required to wear a suit to work, they often times lack the resources to make long-term investments in their wardrobe. Once they reach the outside with a trade organization or lobbying group, that changes.
The menswear industry has many opportunities in the DMV area and some companies are taking notice. Newer suit brands like SuitSupply and IndoChino have set up shop in DC or nearby Northern Virginia. They offer made-to-measure suits for prices far below what consumers are used to paying. At the same time, there are several independent retailers and customer clothiers vying to put custom suits on DC’s most influential.
When it comes to voting, people are much more likely to trust their friends and family over a billboard or commercial. This same theme is slowly taking root in the menswear arena as well. Men are looking for a relationship, not just an advertisement. They want to know what they are wearing fits correctly, complements their physique and changes their mindset in all activities. I believe businesses, small and large will seek to redirect marketing funds toward fashion influencers. These people have a captive audience and whether or not their know their followers, an online relationship is one that is strong enough to build trust. In come the DC Dapper Dudes.
Committed to style and fashion, the DC Dapper Dudes are looking to change the landscape of DC and help others dress for success in whatever their endeavors may be. With different backrounds and professions, each gent offers a unique perspective to the industry. In addition, they seek to make a long-term impact in the community. In a place that seems to be rife with negativity, there’s no doubt that time with these men will put a smile on your face.
On Saturday, January 6th, these gents met up for the first time at Kyirisan which is located just two blocks from the Shaw station along the green line on DC’s north side. Hosted by Barnette Holston of DC Fashion Fool, the event went from 10-2 and there was a lot of learning to be had. The boys started the morning off with a photo shoot outside in the frigid cold with shots along the sidewalk and in the streets. The photographer and fashion blogger at Comme Coco, Jennifer Jean-Pierre, did a heck of a job corraling the group and taking snaps without wearing gloves. We’re thankful she didn’t lose a finger or two!
Upon finishing the shots, the gents went inside and started the meeting. The first point of order was uncovering the purpose for everyone being there and what the group is supposed to achieve for each person. Within the DC Dapper Dudes are makers, retailers, influencers, custom clothiers and brand ambassadors. Each man’s mission is different and personal but as a team, readers and the Greater Washington DC area benefit from the knowledge, the best place to shop for deals, how to acquire unique handmade goods and more.
Around noon, the gents were served coffee along with mini cinnamon rolls and croissants which were nothing short of tasty. Shortly thereafter, bloody marys and mimosas rolled out along with our choice of brunch entree. I opted for the pork belly hash but the menu quite frankly had too many good options to choose from.
As the meeting progressed, our friend James at Hugh & Crye gave us complimentary pocket squares. You can see me sporting it in NYC at a coffee shop. Barnette also hosted a business card raffle with prizes from various vendors.
As the meeting drew to a close, we had to decide what comes next. The group plans to meet once a month and hold educational sessions related to a specific part of the industry. In addition, we each have a commitment to build up each other through our websites, social media accounts and keep each other abreast of what is happening in the menswear industry. There is no doubt that this is the beginning of a movement to help the men of DC not only dress better, but lead better lives.