In our continuing series of interviews with industry leaders, we speak with UK fashion photographer Rob Pattinson about his work and the future of men’s plus-size fashion.
The Growth Of Online Shopping For Clothes
“It wasn’t like this 10 years ago,” Rob says. “I mean, back then, it was really difficult to find the clothing you wanted and that was comfortable. I think the growth of online shopping means that now, if you see something you like, you can go into a bit more detail and find out if it’s available in your size. Back then, you either had to buy what was available in your size, or you had to find the closest match. Now, with measurements available, you can be sure that you’ll get what you want.”
Indeed, measuring for clothing can be a frustrating experience, as you never know what size you’ll end up with. As a result, many people end up buying clothes that don’t fit them properly. To avoid this, shop for clothing that’s one size larger than what you normally wear. For example, if you usually wear a medium shirt, visit a site that offers custom sizing and ask for a large shirt. With this approach, you’ll be sure to find a size that fits you perfectly.
Why Fashion Photos Matter
“Fashion photography is all about showing how clothing looks on different people,” Rob says. “It can be quite technical and involve a lot of set-up. After the shoot, you have to go through all the images and cut out the ones that don’t work. For example, if you didn’t get a good profile shot of a shirt, you’ll have to scrap it.”
He continues: “The main difference between editorial fashion photography and commercial fashion photography is that the latter is usually commissioned by brands and companies trying to sell clothes. In an editorial fashion shoot, you’ll be offered a wide range of clothing and accessories to choose from. In a commercial fashion shoot, you’ll have a brand’s clothing line narrowed down to a selection of only a few items.”
The Importance of Fit
“There are three basic measurements to consider when buying men’s clothing,” Rob says. “These are the inseam, the shoulder and the chest. Make sure that the clothes you buy are comfortable, fit well and are the right size for you.”
As a general rule, it’s best to choose clothes that are one or two sizes larger than you normally wear. This way, you’ll be sure to find something that fits you perfectly.
Fit is also important whenever you’re on the Internet, as you’d never know what measurements the website’s operators add to the clothes they sell. Some sites, such as My Geek Wardrobe, for example, add an extra 14 inches to the height of their clothing. This means that, for someone who stands 6 feet tall, the majority of their clothing will be way too short.
To ensure that you get the right fit every time you buy clothes, try on a few different styles and makes before making a purchase. Also, look at the size of the people in the ads or on the websites’ social media accounts, as this will give you an idea of what size you should be looking for.
Where Does Style Come From?
“The style of a man is mostly determined by three factors: how well he dresses, how he wears his hair and how he carries himself,” Rob says. “These three factors are what make up what is known as a man’s style. In the same way, the style of a woman is determined by the way she wears her hair, the clothes she wears and how she carries herself.”
This is why, when you look at a fashion photo, you’ll immediately be able to tell what style the person in the image is wearing. However, this doesn’t mean that the style of the person is discernible from their face alone. Take, for example, the photo below. Without getting too specific, you can see that the shirt the man is wearing is loosely fitted and has longer sleeves than the ones pictured above it. His hair is also styled differently and he’s posing with his hands in his pockets. Even though he’s not showing us his face, you can still tell from these stylistic elements that he’s a very stylish man.
This brings us to our next point. It’s important to note that even though the man in the photo is wearing a stylish outfit, not all stylish men are admirable characters. There are some pretty awful individuals who go around dressing and styling their hair in a way that makes them appear stylish. Make sure you keep this in mind the next time you’re presented with an opportunity to criticize a man for being too stylish.
Style Across The Globe
“Men’s style is pretty much the same everywhere,” Rob says. “What differs is the range of items available and how formal or informal the attire is. For example, if you go to an Asian country like Singapore, you’ll notice that the men there dress fairly Western-style, with lots of collars and button-ups.”
That being said, he acknowledges that there are some substantial differences. “If you go to Southern Europe, such as Italy or Spain, you’ll notice that the men there are generally more casual than their Northern European counterparts,” he says. “For example, you’ll see lots of leather jackets and lots of denim.”
As for the women’s styles, they’re also pretty much the same across the globe, with the obvious differences resulting from different cultural influences. However, what sets the women of different countries apart is their engagement in social activities. “In some countries, such as Italy and Spain, you’ll see lots of women in heels and cocktail dresses,” Rob says. “In Asian countries, such as Singapore, you’ll see a lot of skirts and a lot of ethnic wear.”
This is something that many Western men are still unable to accept. Many of today’s popular lifestyle blogs, for example, focus heavily on the style differences between East and West, often criticizing the former for being too formal and the latter for being too casual.
But as our Western culture becomes more and more influenced by other cultures, we are seeing men and women wearing clothing from all over the world, not just parts of it. This multi-cultural influence is perhaps most prevalent in sportswear, with many big brands, such as adidas and Nike, incorporating different cultural designs and making them a talking point among people of all cultures.
“I think that, in general, men are more receptive to change than women are,” Rob says. “If a man doesn’t like how he dresses or the way he wears his hair, he’ll usually have the motivation to change it. A woman, on the other hand, will usually need convincing.”
This, combined with the fact that men are more physically active than women are, leads to the growth of menswear in countries where there is already an established women’s wear industry. “In places like Japan and Korea, you’ll see the opposite of what you’d expect,” Rob says. “In Japan, for example, you’ll see a lot of women wearing stylish outfits and carrying themselves in a way that is very feminine. And, in Korea, you’ll see lots of men, particularly those in their 20s and 30s, wearing loose, comfortable clothes and carrying themselves in a way that is definitely masculine. This is most likely because a lot of the Western influences on these countries came through its exports, not through immigration. In other words, a lot of the fashion industry in Japan and Korea is a direct result of the fashion habits that the West introduced them to. As a result, you’ll see a lot of men trying on a more feminine and stylish look and a lot of women trying on a more masculine and fashionable look. This is one area where you can certainly expect to see a lot of change in the coming years.”
On a lighter note, let’s move away from serious matters for a moment and discuss some of the fashion-related items that you can purchase that will allow you to express your personality. For example, if you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then you can’t go wrong with matching your outfit to the theme of the film you’re watching. If you’ve seen a James Bond movie, then you can’t go wrong with a funny quote or phrase in some form or another. And if you’re a fan of Harry Potter, then you can’t go wrong with some wizardwear. These are just some of the many examples of how you can incorporate your interests into your wardrobe.