Making a Statement in Oxford Lads New York
Thanks to the 90’s metro-sexual portmanteau, whether gay or straight, today’s modern man wants to look and feel good about his appearance. With messy man-buns and beaded bracelets stacked to the hairy forearm, masculinity is constantly evolving and being redefined. Nowhere is that more apparent than in men’s fashion trends. Men are becoming more comfortable with wearing color, jewelry, prints, and form-fitted cuts that accentuate the male body. Even if you or your man (for the gays and hetero ladies reading) is conservative and never going to grow a man-bun or sport pink sneakers with bejeweled studs on them any time soon, the desire for an exciting middle ground is palpable. To all the men (and/or the women who shop for them) who enjoy expressing themselves through their wardrobes but also care about comfort and flattering fits, Oxford Lads New York is the brand you’ve been looking for.
For the longest time it seemed like men had only two options when it came to printed leisure wear: either boring plaids in “masculine” traditional colors or Hawaiian floral shirts in pastels. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not denigrating plaids or Hawaiian prints, in fact over the years both have been revolutionized by designers such as Burberry or Dolce & Gabbana—offering refreshingly unexpected color combinations. But for every 30-something guy on a budget wearing a classically drab plaid or Hawaiian shapeless box-of-a-shirt, there are definitely more sophisticated choices out there like Oxford Lads.
Drawing inspiration from his extensive travel, love of window-shopping and people watching in foreign environments, Alan Truong launched Oxford Lads New York in the summer of 2010. Partly an homage to the Generation Y rebel, in just 5 years this native New Yorker has created a global brand selling his innovative clothing in Switzerland, Germany, Japan and Korea to name a few. Here in the US, stores like Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters can’t seem to keep the merchandise on the wracks. In an interview Truong gave Tigertree he explained the origin of the clothing line’s namesake.
“When I traveled to London and Sydney, I came across Oxford streets in both these cities, and I sat down at Starbucks to enjoy my Frappucino and people watch — and I could see that these guys do exist. I saw the many preppy/hipster ways that guys used to create very interesting mix and match looks — preppy but at the same time incorporating skateboard/street styles. Their looks were effortless, interesting and didn’t scream expensive. These guys are my audience and that’s how the name ‘Oxford Lads’ came about.”
I buy most of my Oxford Lads pieces from a fantastic men’s clothing store in West Hollywood called Brick and Mortar (their merchandise is available for online purchase as well). Over the summer I bought a whimsical short-sleeve shirt with a collage of European doors all over it. I also picked up these blue and white polka dot shorts that are made from stretchy cotton that goes with my body as I move.
What I love about the brand is the unique way bold but tasteful prints and patterns are paired with traditional styles easily found in a “typical guy’s” wardrobe without being over-the-top or garish. For example, one might find a denim shirt with an Aztec microprint embroidered in clean geometric lines all over it. The designs are subtle but at the same time intriguing and elevated. It’s really a marriage between urban street-wear prints and preppy country-club basics—accessibility with a little subversiveness to liven it up.
The colors are vibrant and the fabrics are high-quality ensuring that they will last for years to come—justifying the higher price point. Lightweight silk blends perfect for warm weather with schools of fish, collections of feathers, vintage magazines, animal prints, abstract florals or polka dots are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the plethora of options offered in each collection. Truong goes on to say in his Tigertree interview that, “ men are creatures of habit, so there has to be some element that’s predictable. So I always look for something classic and familiar, which I can then add my own twist to it — that’s how I approach my designs.”
With years of experience in women’s apparel production and working as a cutter in costume design, Truong’s understanding of fit is evidently superior. Shirt-patterns are cut and designed to compliment the male shape allowing room for the typically broader chest, arms and upper back. At the same time the shirt is narrowed in the lower back area around the waist, which gives that sexy upside-down triangular look without being tight like a leotard. The clothing hugs the body in all the right places but is still loose and relaxed. The pieces can easily be dressed up or dressed down interchangeably. I’ve yet to walk into a room wearing an Oxford Lads shirt or pant and not get tons of compliments. People seem eager to spark up a conversation about the uniqueness of the brand.
Make a fashion statement and add a piece of Oxford Lads New York to your wardrobe. The fit and feel will not disappoint.
All photos taken by Gerardo Guillen @gerardoguillen