You've probably seen him recently, on your new and chaotic "For You" page on Twitter, whether you wanted to or not. He's the "menswear guy," or @dieworkwear if you want to refer to his handle, but you can call him Derek Guy, and his sudden viral fame after posting steadily for years about how men can dress themselves better hasn't been entirely smooth sailing.
"In the beginning I got annoyed," Guy told Motherboard over the phone, explaining that "the default mood on Twitter is just anger, so it doesn't feel good." He's posted about talking to his therapist about an imagined rabble of Twitter users who hate him. But what did he do? Guy's posts are humorous, and helpful, and are largely focused on advice like how larger dudes can wear clothes that fit and look great. Really, he's just algorithmically ubiquitous.
Twitter has gone through several sudden evolutions since Elon Musk took ownership of the site last year in bids to make the site more attractive even as advertisers fled. There was the added metric of "views" in addition to likes and retweets, and the aforementioned "For You" page—a transparent take on TikTok's own algorithmically-curated recommendations page. Musk has made several allusions to changing up Twitter's recommendation algorithm. Guy, through no fault of his own, appears to have been caught up in these shifts—making a few viral tweet threads roasting Jordan Peterson's fashion choices might have had a hand in that, although who's to say?—and as a result has been pushed into the feeds of untold numbers of Twitter users. Similar to the infamous airdropping of a free U2 album on to everyone's iPhone, not everybody is stoked about that.
After seeing him every time I opened up my Twitter app (which is every several minutes), I decided to reach out to him to see how he's handling all this attention.
Who are you?
I’m just a guy that likes clothes and has written about clothes for a while. I guess I’ve gone viral on Twitter.
Are you aware that you're all over everyone's For You Page? You've been all over mine. I saw you tweeting about how much a shirt costs and why it should cost that much. Honestly, I like your tweets.
I literally learned about it yesterday. I noticed something was weird, I want to say a week or two ago, because I would get—I tweet about men’s clothing essentially. I went into Nov. 2022 with 50,000 followers. It grew really quickly because of a series of events from November thru January. Then starting in January I would get replies to my tweets from people who were clearly not interested in men’s clothing. I was, for a while, getting a bunch of people who were replying to me and they weren’t following me. It seemed they had no interest in men’s clothing, they were angry and hostile. I just thought it was weird. I don’t know, it wasn’t an enjoyable experience often.
Then yesterday someone tagged me and I clicked through and it was this thread that was like 'Why is Twitter trying to get me to follow this menswear guy.' A bunch of people replied and said I was all over their For You Page and I thought, 'Whoa, I must be in people’s FYP because of an algorithm.' I went to get lunch with a friend and he was like, 'You’re like every third tweet.' I obviously don’t want to annoy people.
You haven't like, paid to have your tweets promoted or anything?
I’ve never given Twitter a dime. I’ve never paid for a promoted tweet, never paid for Twitter Blue. I’ve been a free user forever.
How are you dealing with the newfound attention?
In the beginning I got annoyed. I would think, 'Why are you replying to me if you’re not interested in clothes?' As my account has grown exponentially, I don’t notice comments anymore because my replies are too much. But, I’ve seen people speculate about whether I have Nazi politics, which bums me out because I don’t. Then sometimes people will hop into my mentions being really aggressive. I think the default mood on Twitter is just anger, so it doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t make Twitter very fun.
But, I think the overall response has been good. I don’t feel like I’ve done anything wrong. So, overall it’s been a positive response. One thing I notice is I’m a little bit more self conscious in how I engage with people. If you have a smaller account, people will retweet me and say something not pleasant. In the past, I would reply to clarify my point. Now I’m really self-conscious about doing that. If I reply to that person, it shows up on everyone’s timeline. One, I feel bad because I feel like I’m pushing myself into people’s timelines. Then people are saying things that are wildly bad about me and I don’t want to attract attention. I am more self conscious about the types of jokes I’ve made on Twitter. Like, I used to make fun of people who wear Untuckit and Allbirds. Now I don’t want to make jokes about Allbirds.
Tech bros wear Untuckit and Allbirds though—maybe some people from Twitter would see it?
That’s the thing - I used to have a niche audience of people who obsess over menswear. I wouldn’t want to make that joke and have people think 'Are people making fun of my shoes?'
You said a lot of people have said not nice things about you. What are people mad about? Are they beefing with the content or with the fact that you're showing up everywhere?
Sometimes it’s the content. I said in the tweet I don’t think the wastefulness of fashion is purely about capitalism, it’s about other issues. I tweeted a couple threads about, like, fast fashion is bad, maybe you should buy thrifted clothing instead. I’ve been making different threads like, here’s how you can buy something large and alter it and get it to shrink down. You can find a big sweater for $10 and bring it home and shrink it to make it fit.
Some people were hostile in the sweater thread. They say 'You’re taking clothes away from people who have larger sizes.' I interpreted it as being hostile. Then I tweeted 'I learned today altering clothes is problematic' and I’ve been so exhausted with people saying you can’t criticize fast fashion or criticize all these things. Then someone reasonably stepped into that thread and said 'This is a convo that’s been happening in womenswear for a long time' and explained it to me, and I left that with a better understanding. Since I’ve been tweeting, a bunch of women have followed me and I’m not normally privy to that world. It's a discussion that has already been fleshed out, but not in the menswear world. I think it’s fine generally for men to buy big sweaters - if you’re a large dude you have less of a hard time finding things that fit. But if you’re a woman reading my thread, you’re taking that information and it applies in a different way.
Have you noticed a difference in Twitter since Elon took over?
I’ve noticed a couple things - when I report tweets that I think break rules, I’ve noticed action taken quicker. If I see a slur and I report it — in the past you’d get a response days later and it’d be like that’s fine, you can use the slur. Now, I’ve reported two tweets and action happened almost immediately which I thought was surprising. I think he just adds - it adds to the toxicity of the environment so even if you’re not saying a slur, I think it’s just like, with Trump - he adds to the general rancor and anger on the site. I think that’s bad. I think he feeds into a lot of these accounts that are anger farming if you will. The third thing I’ve noticed is the For You page.
My Twitter interactions are mostly limited to animals, so I like a bunch of animal related tweets and some progressive tweets, like related to gun violence or gay rights things, so I will like certain tweets. I will never like or reply to political tweets, so, my For You page has been somewhat wholesome experience. I just get photos of cats because those are the tweets I like.
Are you OK being the "Menswear Guy" on Twitter?
I mean, I don’t know. As long as people don’t think—it bums me out that people think I have neo-Nazi politics. Just because I write about suits doesn’t mean I’m a white supremacist. I’m not even white. It bums me out. The biggest block I received was Brian Stelter [formerly of] CNN.
Do you know why he blocked you?
He said it on Twitter. He said 'I don’t want to see any more of this guy’s tweets, no offence to him.' That’s fine, that’s great. It’d bum me out if you saw I was following you and you block me, because I enjoy your tweets. I wish you'd just mute me. If you do not want to see me at all, if the mute doesn’t work, you can block me. I would rather that happen than you be angry in my replies. The angry responses are a bummer.
If you could snap your fingers and get off the For You page, would you?
I overall enjoy it because I am getting a lot of people saying they are taking interest in their wardrobe. That makes me feel good. I feel good when people say I’ve been thinking more about how I buy my wardrobe and what I should be buying. Those positive responses have been rewarding. If I can convert someone to get into this hobby to find joy and confidence in their clothes, it sounds corny, but it does mean something to me.
After this conversation, I walked into my living room where my girlfriend, who had overheard the conversation, said "Was that the menswear guy? I had to unfollow him."
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.