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A Holmes-like figure in late Victorian dress strides through the centre of historic Richmond, where kings and princes once trod and Good Queen Bess threw vast banquets. And yet this man in a black Inverness cape, grey spats and bowler hat goes unseen. Eyes are turned downwards towards a small screen on which cats dance and beautiful women recline on white sand beaches. But which is real? The man who made his own clothes and seeks to experience the past in the walk up to Richmond Hill, with its elegant Georgian mansions that look down on the river Thames. Or, the individually tailored virtual reality, created by artificial intelligence, that tracks you and preselects your preferences? Bricks and mortar and flesh and blood seem tangible and yet the throng are not amused. A slim-bodied communications device 'pings' and elicits an immediate response from the owner who looks relieved that they are still in the game. The question is: what game? What is this and where are we? Some dystopian future in which we can no longer differentiate between fantasy and reality or what cultural critic Jean Baudrillard called the 'simulacra'?
Here at Men's File we emphasise self-reliance and artisanal skills and celebrate any tendency to face into the wind and rain and feel 'the real'. Once again, in this issue we present a gallery of individuals for whom participation is preferrable to observation and with whom this magazine moves forward to the sunny uplands of experience and away from the shadowy hinterland of the virtual. We visit Goodwood Revival and take some of the most stylish at the event into the studio in order to scrutinise their fashion. We visit a mountain in Bavaria that provides more than enough of the twists and turns required for any great historic hill climb and we stay a while in the foothills at the HQ of the much-lauded Pike Brothers. From Sweden we feature a unique silver Streamliner that débuted at the VHRA event on Pendine Sands and in Berlin we meet a group of silver surfers navigating the Seek trade show. Back on Savile Row we note the recently established JP Hackett and a reincarnation of Mr Fish in Marylebone. In short, we trace the paths of style pioneers as they journey across Europe, Asia and North America and attempt to translate their raw creativity into something social, historical or cultural.But are we so serious? In a time when jokes are no longer funny, we still laugh with our antihero Even Steven, featured in our back page cartoon created by the inimitable Maxwell Paternoster. Let's take that humour with us wherever we go and turn up our collars, face into the rain and move into the future... - Nick Clements