Two or three years ago if you asked me what I thought about men’s fashion, you would have received, at best, a mild look of irritation. I had some vague sense of matching shoes with belts. But otherwise, I was three jeans-five shirts-two sneakers kind of guy.

Much of that changed after I met Veronique Nichanian, head of menswear design at Hermès, for a Mint Indulge interview. Nichanian spent the better part of an hour telling me how to understand the idea of men’s fashion shorn of its intimidations.

And the modern fashion industry is nothing if not intimidating. Like a bad curator at an art gallery, the men’s fashion business can use messages and images that are exceedingly complex and imprecise. For instance, I asked Nichanian, how do I make sense of a men’s fashion show? As an utterly “normal" consumer of men’s clothing, with neither the body nor the budgets for high fashion, how do I process the avalanche of pictures of articles that assault my senses several times each year from Milan and Paris and London?

Nichanian sat down and gave me a whole new perspective on clothes and models and trends and fashions. This issue of Indulge is, in many ways, a tribute to that conversation I had with the high priestess of Hermès’ menswear.

Nichanian told me that the trick to make sense of it all is to think of it in terms of utility. Think in terms of how you use your clothes and how you wear it, instead of how it looks on the model or how it is draped on the catwalk. And, most importantly, she said, one had to think of it in terms of value. You have to construct, she said, a wardrobe that was built for utility and matched your lifestyle. If your job, like mine, involves sitting and typing all day, you probably don’t need four good suits. But you could use one great suit that you wear for special occasions. A good wardrobe, she said, was not one that was full of expensive branded pieces, but one that served the owner in the course of his daily life. It gave him comfort when he sought comfort, it gave him poise when he seeks poise, and it held a secret arsenal of excellent clothing for special occasions. And all this put together, can be achieved on any budget.

This issue of Mint Indulge is all about functional fashion. It is packed with ideas and trends and concepts. But most of all, it is meant to help you achieve that precisely balanced, sensible wardrobe.

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