Clothing innovation has always required a highly visible public profile, significant resources and more than a casual interest in the subject matter. Before there were designers attempting to create markets, some men who simply liked to dress changed how the game was played with new styles for themselves that were were widely copied. The late Duke of Windsor, for example, popularized items as diverse as Fair Isle knitwear and suede oxfords.
There are few individual men with the required combination of taste, visibility and interest to be innovators in classic menswear today. Most of those who have everything required are content to stick with the tried and true, limiting themselves to the occasional experiment with a new tailor. I admire the style of Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones because he is one of the rare exceptions who pushes the envelope without taking things to excess. Not content with his Huntsman double breasteds and shoes resurrected from the archives, Mr. Watts has commissioned several very individual shoes from George Cleverley these past few years.
In the photo, Mr. Watts wears one of them, slipons in black crocodile with a blue buckskin apron. We may like or dislike his choices just as we have with every style leader who has come before, but innovation still thrives.