The Urban Lumberjack Look: Classic American Style or Off-Season Halloween Costume?

The latest in an ongoing series in which we debate current style topics with an intensity that is—we'll be the first to admit—a little out of proportion to the actual significance of the issue at hand.

Photo: Gastrochic

Buffalo check me out.

On Jan 14, 2011, at 8:52 AM, Tyler Thoreson wrote:

Gents, I would like to extend a warm welcome to our inaugural guest participant in Reply-All, noted branding guru, A Continuous Lean blogger, and MANual contributor Michael Williams. Also looping in Pesko, in case he cares to chime in from Firenze—which, based on what I’m seeing, seems to have gone work boot crazy. And now onto our topic…

Lots of Paul Bunyan lookalikes out there these days. How we feeling about that?

On Jan 14, at 9:18 AM, Michael Williams wrote:
I think it has a lot to do with the Discovery Channel. All they do is glamorize blue collar jobs—fisherman, lumberjack, mechanic—and force buffalo plaid on unsuspecting Manhattan creative types. I suppose some rugged waxed canvas is a good wardrobe choice if a guy ever needs to walk through some heavy brush to get to his favorite latte spot.

On Jan 14, at 10:08 AM, Christopher Wallace wrote:
I love a work boot as much as the next man, but it is wild to see them tramping through Pitti. Americana done gone global, I guess, and a little plaid is a lot less offensive than an Applebee’s, but I worry about the sameness.  Call me crazy but I want to see some future-forward flash on the fashionistas in Italy. In NY, on the other hand, I’m all for the rough-and-ready attire. In fact workwear is only half-stepping—I’m ready for someone to bring back a little Mad Max to the streets.

On Jan 14, at 10:43 AM, Jared Flint wrote:
Oh, there’s some Mad Max out there. Just go out to The Standard or any GrandLife property after 2:00 a.m. and ninja goths are thick on the ground. As I’m sure Pesko will see, Le Marais is littered with black-clad drop-crotches. I think you just gotta mix and match. Want to sport that oversized buffalo-plaid Woolrich coat? Perhaps shave. Kind of repeating myself here, though. But seriously, WilliamsGimme! Coffee is in Ithaca, it’s woodsy up there: venison meatballs and soy lattes.

On Jan 14, at 10:53 AM, Josh Peskowitz wrote:
Can’t wait for the Paris vampires. As for the lumberjack thing, everything in moderation is what I say. Putting the whole kit on will make you look like a herb, but elements of the outdoors thing mixed with something more urbane is still a win. Take the Monitaly booth (the same guys that do the excellent Yuketen shoes) I just came from at Pitti for example. They were doing suit jackets and cuffed trousers in Carhartt canvas and Canadienne coats in Hudson Bay wool. It’s a good look. Not too literal. Since no one who wears all that stuff needs to, there is an inverse authenticity relationship.

On Jan 14, at 10:58 AM, Christopher Wallace wrote:
Viktor & Rolf’s inspiration for Monsieur FW11 is “lumberjack meets tuxedo.” Serious balance required.

On Jan 14, at 11:00 AM, Jared Flint wrote:
My FW11 inspiration is The Great Gatsby meets The Deer Hunter. Except no Russian roulette. Or way more, I haven’t decided yet.

On Jan 14, at 11:14 AM, Michael Williams wrote:
This fall I am only going to be wearing stuff from the Dsquared x Rochester Big and Tall collaboration collection. But seriously, I saw a man on the train today carrying a Klein Tools bag in the crook of his arm like it was a Marc Jacobs bag.

On Jan 14, at 11:21 AM, Jared Flint wrote:
Was he accessorizing with a Camus or Fitzgerald?

On Jan 14, at 11:26 AM, Michael Williams wrote:
He wasn’t reading, he was watching The Situation’s workout video on his iPod Touch.

On Jan 14, at 12:21 PM, Andy Comer wrote:
Oh hey, sorry guys, I was out sharpening my Scandinavian forest axe. Just settling back in here with a nice cup of Stumptown. But seriously, what’s with the whole axe thing?

On Jan 14, at 12:23 PM, Jared Flint wrote:
I heard Costello Tagliapietra uses axes to cut their dresses. Now THAT’s urban lumberjack.

On Jan 14, at 12:28 PM, Christopher Wallace wrote:
Don’t joke about such things. My flatmate has some Best Made finery hanging outside his bedroom—though we do live in that Outer Borough where it is de rigueur to split the finest 100-year-old heritage poplars for a fire while Fresh Direct is bringing you two pounds of Oscetra for the weekend.

On Jan 14, at 12:47 PM, Tyler Thoreson wrote:
While I don’t always love the over-the-top execution, I do love what this trend represents. Which is: a hunger for things of substance (literally—these fabrics are thick) after a decade where we all obsessed a little too much over Britney Spears (remember her?) or how many mega-pixels your smartphone had. If people are going to take things to lemming-like extremes, better great old American brands than man-skirts or something. Because man-skirts are my thing, baby.

On Jan 14, at 12:59 PM, Michael Williams wrote:
I think you are right, Tyler. At the end of the day this urban lumberjack thing is just guys pulling back some of the masculinity that they lost during that whole “metrosexual” thing.

On Jan 14, at 1:18 PM, Tyler Thoreson wrote:
Great point. It’s a little ironic that when guys go too far in the anti-“metro” direction, they can easily end up undercutting the manliness they’re trying to recapture…

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  1. Benjamin says:

    Ah, as a (former) GQ podcast subscriber, I certainly appreciate these types of unscripted editorial banter … thanks!

  2. Evan says:

    Never have I been happier to spend the next few seasons in combat gear than now (thank you Afghanistan). “Haute Bûcheron” should never be a term the world becomes familiar with. This really should be banned unless you are actually required to carry an Axe as a part of one’s job description.

  3. Noah says:

    I think one of the most interesting aspects of this urban lumberjack look is that the first men I saw dressing like this in NYC (after the Japanese tourists) was the gay fashion community. It reminds me of trucker hats in the early 2000’s and leather in the 70’s and 80’s in that both were supremely masculine types of clothing or accesories, but were co-opted with a bit of tongue and cheek humor by the stereotypically least masculine groupe. I suppose even if it is a somewhat ironic path, much of fashion works this way, moving from a specific group (say, the bikers, truckers, or lumberjacks), to a cultish hip group (hipsters in trucker hats 10 years ago), to mainstream fashion where the ironic twist of adopting this particular style is completely lost. Personally, I love mixing in a bit of the lumberjack look and I think its even better that men’s culture is simultaneosly moving foward in technology, but also looking back towards a more tangible romantisized past. Its a good time to be a guy who likes his clothing!

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