It makes sense that Jonathan Evans, the fashion director for East Dane, Amazon's menswear site, constantly fields questions about his style. It's his job to make you want cool shit. And he's happy to give it up when he's asked, say, about the brand of his pocket squares (Drake's, for the record) or his heather-gray Robert Geller sweatpants that are acceptable to wear outside the house. But when it comes to his tailor? You can keep walking. "I'll say, 'Oh, I hear this guy's good,'" Evans says—"this guy" not being his guy. "My tailor's busy, and I already have to wait. If I start giving out his name, I'll have to wait longer."
In the era of the overshare, the style-minded have been tripping over themselves to advertise the particulars of their aesthetic. They open up their closets for The Coveteur, arrange their stuff in precious squares on Hypebeast, and Instagram selfies (in T-shirts advertising "Homiès" or "Ballinciaga") complete with an #ootd hashtag. But there's a new vanity play that rejects this look-at-me approach. Men who have spent years honing their style are tired of doing everyone else's homework, preferring to keep the shop where they got their Nike quickstrikes as close to their chest as their perfectly altered Lubiam suit jacket. "The last five years, there's a new freedom to share personal details," says Eric Jennings, men's-fashion director for Saks Fifth Avenue. "But there's a backlash bubbling up. Men are saying, 'Nah, you don't need to know that. I worked hard for my look.'"
Sean Spellman, a stylist who works with Annie Leibovitz (as well as Details), used to oblige when asked to play style Sherpa, but he grew tired of photo assistants and caterers assuming he was their pro-tip dispenser. "I'm not hired to talk to you about where I buy my socks," he says. "It's like, 'Oh, wait, you've done the legwork? Just tell me!' So everyone goes to the barber I suggested, and people are like, 'Cut my hair like Sean's.' Now everyone has my haircut. People will ask, 'What's your cologne?' And the next time I see them, it's like, 'Oh, you smell like me.' So now I say, 'It's a mix. I forgot what I put on today.'"
What's driving Spellman's overeager apers? The menswear renaissance has brought positive changes, yes (the fact that you can buy slim-cut jeans in a Wisconsin mall is one of them), but it has also led to the same advice being recycled on countless blogs and in magazines (Weleda deodorant won't stain your shirts!). Authentic trade secrets are at an all-time premium, which, in turn, makes hoarding that information all the more satisfying. Call it fashion's new power trip—an unspoken communiqué that clearly broadcasts the message "You can't be me."
Designer Patrik Ervell can relate. Customers often ask him who cuts his hair and does his tailoring. Thing is, the resources he has are not within the average man's reach, plain and simple. His hair is trimmed by the stylist who does the models' hair at his shows, and his tailoring is taken care of at the factory that makes his label's suiting. "It's a compliment that you want to know, but it's not available to you," he says. And even if it were, Ervell wouldn't feel compelled to share. "It's my secret sauce. I don't like to give out the recipe."
Of course, karma, being the bitch it is, can put even the most got-it-together guy in his place. Recently, Evans was between tailors. "Mine dropped off the face of the earth," he says, adding that this was after a long search for one who was a good listener. "So I asked someone who his tailor is. He was like, 'Oh . . . it's just some local guy.'"