What does it mean when a menswear line launches, explicitly courting women into wearing their shirts?
Yesterday, Brad Corona and Brian Nicholson launched Jack Robie an online-only collection of "Better Shirts". While the handsome ready-to-wear dress and sport shirts are engineered for and marketed to men, photos on the site suggest that women can also wear these shirts for that just-rolled-out-of-my-boyfriend's-very-nice-bed look. The website even lists the model's sizes: Paul is 6'0'', size 40R, and wears a Medium; Sarah is 5'9", size 4, and wears a Small. (I bet these two snuggle well together.)
So, why would a menswear brand feature women wearing their shirts?
- Plain and simple, men like looking at women in various stages of dress. These ladies might as well be in the shirt of potential purchase.
- Men fantasize about many things, but one near universal is a lover wearing his dress shirt around in the morning, all roughed up with smudgy eyes, tousled hair and a mug of coffee in hand. This particular brand, Jack Robie, is named after Cary Grant's stylistically iconic character in the 1955 Hitchock film To Catch a Thief. While we never see Grace Kelly in Grant's dapper white shirt in the film, the buyer sure can imagine it.
- By featuring women in the shirts on the site, the brand becomes aspirational and trades in the dream of the successful man with his great job, good style, and beautiful woman. Basically, this lifestyle thing is all wrapped up in itself. As in, the shirt makes the man.
- On the flip side, the actual buying power in fashion is with women. If a woman can imagine herself sharing in the wearing of a shirt, she might buy one as a gift for a boyfriend in the hopes of getting to bum around in it.
- Women who have been exposed to good fashion will appreciate small luxuries like mitered cuffs and mother of pearl buttons. When looking at a man wearing the shirt (or when wearing that shirt in the morning), they know that a man attentive to those details connotes a certain lifestyle.
- A shirt that looks somewhat tailored on a woman implies a slim fit for a body conscious urban man: Jack Robie's shirts have a trim cut around the man's chest and high armholes so they lay nicely under a suit jacket or show off a masculine upper body when worn alone. The designers were also getting annoyed at their work shirts' too-long lengths, so they've tailored the Jack Robie line with a shorter fit and subtly sloping scallop in the back. If a man's not swimming in his shirt, neither will his girlfriend.
- Women have been wearing menswear for decades, and they just might be buying these shirts themselves. (Take a look at the slideshow for our favorite female style icons in their men's shirts - from Marlene Dietrich to Audrey Hepburn to Kate Moss.)
To view Jack Robie's entire collection of off-the-rack luxury menswear and shop for yourself, visit www.jackrobie.com.