Josh Peskowitz was a key player in the first wave of the #menswear movement that started around a decade ago and since then he has become a highly influential figure in the global menswear industry. He began his career writing for magazines like Fader, Cargo and Esquire before becoming men’s fashion director at Bloomingdales. Now Peskowitz has co-founded the iconic menswear boutique Magasin in Culver City, Los Angeles. Scandinavian MAN talks to him about how men’s consumer behaviour around fashion has evolved and how the retail landscape is changing.
What made you leave New York for Los Angeles and did you have a clear sense that LA was ready for what you want to do?
— When thinking about opening a store and knowing all of the things that are happening in Los Angeles, it just seemed like a safe bet. I knew that the world was ready for what I wanted to do. I think that in this day and age, with the access to information that’s available and worldwide shipping, I thought that there would be a group of people who would be interested in what I was doing and what we were doing, wherever it was.
Obviously, you want to be part of a local community, and there is one that is developing here in Los Angeles. I think that there’s much more exciting independent retail here than there is in any other city in the United States currently.
What was the concept for Magasin and do you feel that you’ve been able to convey it?
— It’s always a work in progress and the fun- ny thing about vision is that it changes, but the core message of what we’re trying to do here at Magasin remains the same, and that is to sort of be the puzzle pieces that are missing. Whenever you get that whole table puzzle out and there are like four or five pieces that are missing. And you’re like, ‘shit’. Those four or five pieces you can find here at the store.
— When you go to a traditional store, the way that it’s set up, and the way that a customer can navigate through it, is completely and utterly different from how a person actually wants to shop, and how they dress themselves, particularly a man of discerning taste.
— We don’t merchandise by brand, we don’t merchandise by category. We put it together in a way that people wear clothes. The people that I admire the most, the ones who, I think, have the most distinct and refined sense of style, don’t wear any one category of dress. They’re not ‘street’, or ‘designer’ or not ‘tailored’.
— They sort of take elements from each of these different disparate kinds of ways of dressing and put it together in a way that suits them. I think that there are not any stores that address that.
What is happening with men’s consumer behaviour?
— Now we’re in a stage where men – certainly not all men, but I think a very good portion of them, are saying, ‘I still care about sneakers and I still like wearing a sport coat and some of this workwear stuff. But I also really like some designer clothing. I like some of these designers and I’m interested in pattern. I love these textures and I’m now feeling more confident about playing with shape and colour’.
— As those things amalgamate into one, I think that you are entering a phase of fashion in general, but men’s in particular, where there is no one style. It becomes about self-expression because everything that’s ever been in style is all in style at one time. Now what you have to do is figure it out for yourself.
Has there been a cultural shift as well – is it more acceptable for a guy to care about his clothes now?
— Yeah, I think, first of all, women more and more demand it of men. Obviously, men have always demanded it of other men, in a romantic sense, when that is the case. I’ve watched it happen in the store and outside, where women are judging men by how they dress. Once that becomes the standard, men are going to start dressing better. [laughs]
It’s one of those interesting things, because if you look at it not only from a sociological perspective, but also from a zoological perspective, the male is the one who needs to attract attention in the animal kingdom. The birds of paradise have to have the flyest feather display and do the little dance the best to get the female bird of paradise. The peacock is the peacock, and it’s the same for moose and elk.
Virility is displayed. Humans, we don’t have feathers. We don’t have fur. What we’ve got is our tattoos and our clothes, and that’s what it comes down to. To act as if dressing is frivolous is to do a disservice to its basic function in society, and also in life.
It’s really going back to the idea that being well-dressed and presenting yourself in a good manner is actually showing respect to the people around you.