The wildly popular blog Fuck Yeah Menswear has developed a cult following for its hilarious musings on men’s style. Benjamin Schor talks to its creators about their new book.
“I was the stallion of steez. I was the consigliere of crispiness.” “Have you ever poured out some cashmere socks? In honor of how far we’ve come.” “PTSD—Post Tailor Sprezz Dishevelment is off the charts. The onset symptoms began last season.” These, ladies and gentleman, are the hilarious musings of Fuck Yeah Menswear, a wildly popular blog that this week becomes a book.
Since 2010, its creators, Kevin Burrows and Lawrence Schlossman, have turned FYMW into a leading blog dedicated to satirizing men’s style through the art of poetry. By now, any web-savvy guy with the slightest sartorial inkling has checked out a Tumblr fashion blog at least once. But FYMW precedes the entire movement that is, season after season, constantly growing and evolving. Even GQ recognized early on that “while it’s unclear if the free verse of FYMW signals the end of ‘Steez’ as we know it—we approve.”
Over the past two years, Schlossman and Burrows have anonymously written posts that have completely ridiculed yet celebrated the scene they are a part of. “There was room for a satirical voice in this sea of two-inch cuffs,” Burrows tells The Daily Beast. Their style ranges from epic raps on the “Sprezz” and “Steez” to abstract poems on the “Dope” and “Crispy” (See Gallery for definitions).
Schlossman, 25, is the creator of another popular fashion blog, How to Talk to Girls at Parties. Burrows, 24, is both the creative director of The WindMill Club, an online neckwear retailer, and a production coordinator at DreamWorks Animation. They were longtime admirers of each other’s work, and both detected a growing sense of self-importance within the menswear community online. With FYMW, they concocted a way of taking the conversation about men’s fashion in an entirely new direction. Using long-form poetry, they crafted something that was simultaneously satirical and celebratory of the art of dressing well. Initially, the authors maintained anonymity to avoid offending their peers. Yet both are quick to acknowledge their prose wouldn’t be so effective had it not been for their love of the menswear subculture. (Burrows now credits Schlossman for originally coming up with the idea of creating a sartorial equivalent to Hipster Runoff, the popular indie-music blog famous for taking no prisoners.)
It’s no secret: Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, and countless fashion blogs have democratized the once-exclusive fashion world. Now, users troll online photos for inspiration on how to style themselves—rather than seek instructions from the pages of fashion magazines. And men are no exception: they now gravitate toward Tumblr’s thriving “menswear” hashtag to share street-style photos and styling tips. FYMW is, in some ways, the progenitor of menswear on Tumblr. (Schlossman says he advised Tumblr to create the menswear hashtag.)
Though they had an immediate audience when the blog crackled to life in October 2010, Burrows and Schlossman credit posts on menswear fixture (and JCPenney creative director) Nick Wooster and another on Triple Monk Strap shoes (yes, there is such a thing) as early successes for the blog. As time passed, they found themselves in the unique position of being both collaborators—and competitors. For the first year, they would wake up every day to find each other’s posts, which started a friendly rivalry of sorts. But once the duo, "decided to combine powers like Voltron," explains Schlossman, the brand became more refined and the concept was taken to a whole new level. Burrows adds: “We were able to capture an audience from the very beginning that evolved with us over time.” In fact, when their identities were revealed in May of this year, people were surprised that FYMW was more than one voice.
After coverage in GQ interview and National Poetry Review, the guys ran a proposal by a handful of book agents in spring 2011. They immediately responded to their idea. Though Schlossman was doubtful they could make a publishing deal come to fruition, he credits Burrows for having the initial vision. “I thought it was this fun thing that we get to do ... Kevin was the real driving force into having the foresight that this thing was bigger than maybe I thought it was.”
The authors think that their material will be even funnier in book form for readers who have never visited their blog. “My dad’s friends were losing their shit over the chapter ‘Ocean Soaking Your Denim,’ but when we told them it’s a real thing that people do [to maintain a cool fade], they freaked,” says Burrows. “I ocean-soaked my jeans last week! Very serious, very earnest. There’s nothing more purifying for your soul—and denim.” But Schlossman and Burrows knew they could only tackle the book by offering newcomers and aficionados alike a real guide they can reference when facing the occasional sartorial conundrum. One can find a complete breakdown of the various styles that prevail in the menswear community (Heritage, Ivy Trad, or Hypebeaster, anyone?). And like any decent bottle of wine, each poem only gets better over time as readers become more familiar with its context and glossary of terms—conveniently located in the back of the book.
FYMW’s future seems bright—but equally uncertain. Continuing the blog will be a “play it by ear” situation, the authors say. “It was a special thing at the right time that was done the right way,” says Schlossman. “Now, people more than ever are hyper-aware of what #Menswear really is. Other people are trying to co-opt our style. I won’t say they’re copying it, but people are attempting to further what we did in their own way, which is interesting. To us, the book is the definitive, final statement that could be made about this idea but can also serve as the bridge to whatever comes next.” For what it’s worth, they reassured me that that Fuck Yeah Menswear will always be there to respond to the next trend—no matter what comes around the bend.