Men's fashion trends change slowly, often painfully so. But, clearly, there's been a push afoot in these first years of the 21st century that harkens back to the start of the 20th, what with all the so-called heritage brands, bushy beards, pomaded hair and plaid shirts. For me, it's always like some sort of divine stylist plucked George Bernard Shaw, that Irish terrier of a playwright, out of London's Fitzroy Square and dropped him down in Wicker Park, Logan Square or Pilsen.
Exemplifying a needed dose of fresh, clean modernity is Noah Zagor, whose new store in Chicago's trendy Logan Square neighborhood, Meyvn, is a definite step away from what he calls the "old-fashioned haberdashery."
It's that forward motion, that push, that helped Zagor choose as the location for his 900-square-foot store at 2627 N. Kedzie Ave. Designed by Ryan Bardsley, who is one of his business partners, Meyvn has a serene look more in keeping with an art gallery than a men's store.
The store's counters, tables and racks have a simple, bold look that seems more sculptural than mercantile, with various items of clothing casually but carefully arranged. Wide plate glass windows, unadorned save for a wide band of smooth river stones along the bottom frames, blurs the line between the store interior and the neighborhood outside. That's appropriate. Zagor says he, Bardsley and their third business partner, Tony Kim, who is also known as the DJ and producer Tony Trimm, are neighborhood residents and that the store takes its cues from Logan Square.
"I don't want to pigeonhole myself,'' says Zagor, whose vision for Meyvn translates into soft, comfortable clothes that are subtly colored, sanely tailored, and sparked with all sorts of wonderful details, from the subtle gleam of white leather "Original Achilles Low Top" sneakers from Common Projects of Italy (perhaps the store's most recognizable brand) to the knitted pocket adorning a light blue chambray shirt from Paris' Monsieur Lacenaire line to a textured weave of blue and white threads on a pair of "Traad" shorts by the Danish brand, Soulland.
"Not everyone works in an office anymore, so the great blazer, the great tie and the great wingtips, are not applicable anymore,'' replies Zagor.
Zagor, has stocked Meyvn to be a lifestyle resource for customers with grooming products, limited-edition photography books, music, art works and even some pieces of furniture.
Here's how he views this summer:
What's the direction of menswear today? "You can do almost anything you want as long as it is with conviction," says Zagor, who believes in a mix of high fashion, streetware and classic clothing. "The unifying factor is interesting, unique designs, subtle, with great details."
"Instead of literally interpreting, like wanting to look like a 1960's professor, there's something inherently modern in taking that and moving it forward," he adds.
Is the beard over? "The beard as a trend statement has probably reached a pinnacle,'' says Zagor, who grew his before the trend and has maintained it some 10 years. "People who have it as a trend will let it go. People who own it will keep it. It's all about how you own it."
What's the most important piece that a guy can have in his wardrobe that says ''I Get it''? "The hottest thing is the bomber jacket, that silhouette. Another thing is unique hemlines, like longer (shirt tails) so layering becomes interesting."
Fashion do's? "Be willing to try new things," says Zagor, stressing men need to retain a sense of self and pride in the way they look.
And fashion "don'ts? "Don't wear things that don't fit. There are a million types of fits, cuts, silhouettes to play with,'' he says.