Despite their status as the new white collar villains of our day (or probably, because of it), startup founders have one more victory to tout: fashion icons. At least according to Banana Republic, which is now using a very warped notion of Silicon Valley chic to sell beige fabric.
It's a given that most of the adult male human population doesn't know how to dress; it's why Banana Republic exists. But in Silicon Valley, where rules are anathema, there's only one fashion mandate: dress every day like it's the first day of 9th grade. Unlike their Wall Street counterparts, who at least have the decency to walk into a Brooks Brothers and say Make me look expensive, Californian software engineers still conflate Steve "Jobsian minimalism" with "looking like garbage." The conversion of Mark Zuckerberg from slob to celebrity has not helped.
Nor will this Banana Republic email promo help, rebranding the "Upper Middle Class Guy" look the "Startup Guy." If only it were true! We'd take milquetoast khakis, rolled up to avoid the swelling of the Pacific Ocean, over the truth:
This is Paul Graham, who dresses like your stepdad on a trip to the beach, speaking before a class of startup guys. These are The Startup Guys. Look upon my cargo pants, ye mighty, and despair. If Banana Republic were honest, The Startup Guy lookbook would consist of this: t-shirts with startup logos, giant shorts, purple-on-brown New Balances, ballooning blazers, and bootcut jeans. It is a mess. We forgive them for their mess because they are smart—and when you create a supervortex of wealth, hubris, mild Asperger's, and hackathons, what more can you expect?
Let us expect nothing. But let us not try to sell it to others.