Last week, it was Michael Bastian's lacrosse-inspired collection for Gant, as well as the opening of yet another old-timey barber shop in Brooklyn. Then Jessica Biel popped up on the cover of Vogue, looking fresh faced and yes, All American, in a denim vest and blazer. Which got us thinking...when is this Americana bubble going to pop already? If the typical lifespan of a trend is three years, is the latest era of head-to-toe denim, speakeasy-inspired cocktails, ironic mustaches and Filson satchels nearly through? I like Americana for a number of reasons, especially the history behind it, but the immutable law of fashion cycles tell us this fad's number will be up soon. And that demise will impact a number of industries, including fashion, retail, dining, and drink.
Minnesota-based Red Wing Boots, for example, had its most profitable year ever in 2008--that's 105 years after the company was established. Another old-school brand--L.L. Bean--has also attempted to cash in on the heritage card. In September, 2009, the Maine-based company hired Rogues Gallery designer Alex Carleton to head up its new Signature collection. Boutiques like Smith and Butler in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, mostly sell heritage brands or vintage Americana pieces, many of which have been manufactured in the US. And since Taavo Somer opened Freemans restaurant, a log cabin-inspired venue in 2004 on New York City's lower east side, other similarly styled spots have sprouted across the country, including Lodge in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco, and Ye Rustic Inn in Los Angeles. Despite the fact that shop owners and restaurateurs continue to ride the trend, even die-hard Americana followers don't think this will last forever. Michael Williams, editor of the popular blog A Continuous Lean.--which focuses on American-made fashion, textiles and furniture--does agree that the Americana bubble will indeed pop soon enough. "I think Americana is a trend most likely at its peak or near the height of its popularity," Williams told us. "But, while the bubble may soon burst and many will go back to their drop-crotch Rick Owens, it is my feeling that a substantial appreciation for Americana will persist. There are always going to be guys [and women] that want American made suits or boots or flannels, no matter what the fashion of the moment."