Is men’s fashion the strangest it has ever been?

Three models parade in Valentino Haute Couture AW21, GmbH SS22 and Fendi SS22

Over the past decade, men’s fashion has evolved from one trend to another. He fell in love with couture, he adopted the laid-back-cool style through style icons like Kanye – whose Haider Ackermann era is required reading – A $ AP Rocky and Pharrell, and in recent years he has welcomed the “sweet boys”. and what has been widely dubbed a ‘new masculinity. For SS22, however, that “sweetness” morphed into something altogether more cheeky: unrestrained, ostensibly odd flamboyance. As previous trends – whether they started on catwalks, on social media, or through celebrity styling – have migrated into stores and people’s wardrobes, the jury is out on whether the man from the street is quite ready for the bold, nude silhouettes we’ve recently seen on the runway.

Yet while the season’s collections were certainly less dictated by conventional menswear standards, they nonetheless tapped into an undercurrent of flamboyance that has always existed in men’s style – just look to Prince, Sir Elton John or Dennis Rodman for proof.

At Fendi, this translated into a break from their usual codes, usually heavy on tailoring and focused on classic masculine silhouettes with quirky twists, instead showcasing ultra-short jackets and waist chains. At Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton’s womenswear designs have been welcomed into the house’s menswear repertoire, with her iconic ruffles exploding with bespoke piece stitching and an embroidered tank dress added to the mix. At Saint Laurent, Anthony Vaccarello leaned into the flamboyant aesthetic of Monsieur Saint Laurent himself, while Acne Studios embraced the on-trend Gen Z style and brands like GmbH continued to keep homosexuality. at the heart of their aesthetic. So there you have it, the trend’s popularity boom is an undeniable fact. But what motivates him?

A model parading in Fendi SS22

Image courtesy of Fendi

The simple answer is that as our definitions of gender expand and evolve, so does the mandate of fashion. As a stylist Tabitha sanchez note, “men’s fashion today is heavily inspired by queer people who have been using fashion to break out gender binaries for as long as fashion has existed”, and as queer people continue to discover and express facets of their identities through fashion, people take notice and embrace them as aesthetics, ultimately turning them into mainstream trends – all the crop tops and halter tops we’re seeing right now for the hot summer – boy, for example.

For Iolo Edwards, founder of the forum and Facebook post High Fashion Talk (HFT), this can be attributed in large part to the crumbling of some fashion boundaries in recent years, with many having “a lot to do with the recalibration of dressing according to gender.

Further evidence of this cultural shift can be found in the rebirth of queer celebrities such as Lil Nas X and Troye Sivan, who are more open and playful with their style, as well as Gen Z’s adoption of genderless style trends. in the wake of a Y2K Recovery. As such, now is a great time for brands to take a similar approach in their men’s clothing. Not only is there a market appetite, but there is also a real opportunity for brands to showcase more adventurous menswear in the same way they do for women in celebrity marketing. It’s something that brands like Giambattista Valli, Fendi and Valentino are taking advantage of by coming up with exuberant men’s couture looks that were almost done for a while on the Harry Styles red carpet.

“It’s worth asking why aesthetic brands rely on homosexuality and flamboyance when deciding what their ‘free’ and ‘at risk’ modern man should wear. “

Beyond that, however, it also speaks to the general mood for freedom and risk-taking in post-pandemic dressing, something that has also characterized the AW21 shows. From Iolo’s perspective, while comfort was at the center of the collections on display at the start of the pandemic, there has been a ‘full 180’ of them, with people now wanting to look their best after being locked in for so long. . This seems to have been on the mind of Silvia Venturini Fendi, who told Vogue that she wants to “give this man a sense of freedom” this season, and that “now is the time to break the boundaries”.

Still, it’s worth asking why aesthetic brands lean on homosexuality and flamboyance when deciding what their “free” and “at risk” modern man should wear. This is particularly relevant when considering the very real risks visibly homosexual people face when they choose to present themselves outside of heteronormative expectations.

A model wearing Alexander McQueen SS22

Image courtesy of Alexander McQueen

Still, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the change we’re seeing on the slopes is encouraging. One question worth asking, however, is: are people actually buying it? The short answer is apparently yes. Federico Barassi, Vice President of Menswear Purchasing at SSENSE, said that while this trend is still “niche compared to core or commercial offerings, there is momentum, opportunity and openness for more. experiments in men’s fashion ”. Categories in which they have experienced particular growth include skirts, heels, and accessories like small handbags, which the Canadian e-commerce platform has been offering for many seasons and is “happy to see being of.” more and more adopted ”.

That Federico would be able to offer such a confident endorsement of this open-minded turn in menswear makes sense. SSENSE is, after all, a favorite retail destination for Millennials and Gen Zs to find trending pieces often from little designers. 34 years old. He also notes that, as big brands continue to take a more liberated approach to their men’s clothing, there is keen interest in “supporting emerging designers who have authentically and consistently made this aesthetic a core part of their DNA.” , offering Dion Lee, Phlemuns, Ludovic de Saint Sernin and Telfar as examples.

Of course, even among names like these, what you see on catwalks and in editorials isn’t always what ends up in stores. Fashion has a habit of showing one thing and selling another, and as trends spill over into social media – or in cases like this, stem from it – what we see URLs are not. not always what we get IRL. The ways we socialize have changed dramatically over the past couple of years, with our interactions shifting to online spaces that naturally facilitate self-expression. “People are not [physically] entering spaces where toxic masculinity can restrict what they feel comfortable or, sad to say, wear it safely, ”says Iolo, citing TikTok as a standout example.

So how does this boom in the most daring versions of menswear seen on catwalks and on our screens translate into what your average man on the streets wants to buy? Iolo argues that “only a small minority decide what to wear on a catwalk,” a fair fact – but that’s where influencers and celebrities come in. It is, after all, what we see on the podium that determines what we see them. wear on red carpets and in media appearances, and “people want to buy the clothes they see on their favorites.” It has a huge impact. [On social media] you can find someone whose identity and gender you can relate to, which many people often need in order to give themselves permission to self-actualize, ”he continues, adding that“ there is has always had play and gender distortion in fashion, but what was once warned with an attempt no homo is now much more self-confident and confident.

It’s a change he’s seen in the outfits shared on HFT. While not everyone suddenly dresses “more flamboyant or more womanly”, those who certainly want to feel more comfortable doing so. In her opinion, however, it has a lot to do with the increase in popularity of the second-hand market among Gen Zers and Millennials, as people who once felt out of fashion can now “shop more.” adventurous ”and then resell them. This is something he has noticed among people with a higher number of followers, who wear something and then sell it to one of their influenced followers.

“There is an undeniable cultural shift to adopt fluid approaches to gender and sexuality. It is important [that brands] recognize this change – whether subtly or shamelessly. – Federico Barassi, Vice President of Menswear Purchasing at SSENSE

It remains to be seen whether all of this will translate into the commercialization of SS22’s most popular collections as they first appeared to us. As Federico notes, “some styles are shown for runway or editorial purposes only and sometimes never go into production,” while “brands like Dion Lee take what we see on the runway and make sure that it is part of their retail offering “. What he remains confident about, however, is that the trend will gain popularity and become more common as customers become more familiar with styles and silhouettes.

“There is an undeniable cultural shift in brands and customers to adopt fluid approaches to gender and sexuality,” he notes, adding that “as the purchasing power of Generation Z increases, there is is interesting to see if brands will adapt and dispel gender binaries across their collections. It is important that they recognize this shift, whether subtly or unabashedly. Of course, only time will determine if the trend becomes whether or not the next evolution in men’s fashion, and as social distancing blocks and restrictions give way to IRL socialization, it will be interesting to see how this seemingly general interest in flamboyance affects the way men dress. every day. The Gist, however, speaks to one of fashion’s fundamental truths. “No matter what gender and how you identify yourself, clothes are for everyone,” Tabitha says. fashion is fun, dressing is fun. Or in other words, fashion is about having an old gay time.

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