Hot Take: Dancing on Four Pins’ Grave

The #menswear frat house known as Four Pins has shut its doors, giving us hope for the future.

We are in the age of metamodernism, in which irony and sincerity overlap, existing and self-activating along a continuum. Wes Anderson is often cited as an example of New Sincerity, but belongs more to the metamodern camp: Yes, this movie is coy and overdone and relentlessly arch, but it’s stirring my cold black heart into warm goo all the same. We snicker when Raleigh Sinclair tells Maggie, “Well, I wanna die,” but we feel his sadness, too.

This was never the case with Four Pins, whose overeducated denizens talked about “alphets” with the same “Get it? I’m being bro-y” hamfistedness as Kissing Suzy Kolber circa 2006, which for those keeping count was a full 10 years ago. Then again, it was only this sense of excruciating self-awareness that kept Four Pins’ writers and commenters from veering into Chet Haze territory, so praise the Lord for unintended virtue.

To be sure, Four Pins was an excellent blog, but at this point, that’s a bit like being the tallest midget in the circus. Blogs tell us What, sometimes How, but never Why. Four Pins excelled at documenting What, whether fashion-week style coverage or the latest in embossed jerseys from an obscure Russian streetwear brand. It combined the What approach of Hypebeast or Gear Patrol or Uncrate with the heavy cream of vintage internet snark, whipped into a froth of dorm-room slang that was adopted by a highly engaged community. In that sense, Four Pins’ “voice” might have even approached vernacular — a legitimate accomplishment, except that this vernacular was only ever used when speaking in character. With Four Pins, there was always the option to change clothes in the bathroom before your parents picked you up from school, or to resume speaking “normally” when the boss stopped by your desk.

There will always be room for What. Fashion is built on it, after all. What is what’s next. But hopefully in the future there will also be more room for style, for Why. We need a middlebrow middle ground between the go-nowhere playpen of Four Pins and the ivory-tower abstractions of material-culture studies.

(Allow a paragraph of shameless self-promotion: It’s nice that Styleforum just did yet another write-up of a What-style Horween tour. But haven’t we had enough of those already? I thought so, which is why Someone Else dug into the Horween company archives to see the zebra-cordovan loafers and German “fish bag” that Nick and Skip Horween have kept throughout the years, along with Isidore Horween’s citizenship papers — all of which shed light on Horween’s unique Why. Likewise, Someone Else could have published the 109th story about Shockoe Atelier expanding from jeans to a full menswear collection. Instead, we discussed the reasons Why that jeans-to-menswear transition reflects 40 years of fashion-industry adventures for the Lupesco family, and we did it while ruthlessly critiquing the Shockoe rebrand. By digging into Why, in both instances we addressed and fully fleshed out What and How, en passant.)

Dearly beloved, let us remember Four Pins as the friend who held your Givenchy sweatshirt in place while you did a keg stand. There’s honor in that, even for those of us who have always loathed frat culture. Hopefully, the shuttering of Four Pins indicates that we’re now ready for something different, if not indeed something more — namely, Why.

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