“Are those my jeans or yours?” is not a question my mom would have asked my dad when they were dating. But these days, men’s jeans are getting tighter, their shirts are getting longer and the gender lines in fashion are becoming increasingly blurred.
Over the years, there has been the odd blip on the fashion monitor to indicate that men might begin to embrace a more gender-neutral aesthetic. Fans of the look, harp back to the togas worn by warriors in ancient Rome and Greece, citing bloodbaths like “Gladiator” to rationalize their case.
In the past few seasons, fashion mavericks from Kanye West to A$AP Rocky, Theophilus London and Pharrell have been channeling a gender-neutral aesthetic, pairing dress-like slim shirts and kilts over fitted leather pants. On the catwalks, British designers, J.W. Anderson and Alan Taylor, are leading the charge for the new gender-neutral trend. Both designers have featured kilts in their collections and for his fall 2013 line, Anderson dressed male models in a variety of mini dresses. Speaking to New York Magazine, he explained his rational, “For me, menswear is an experimental ground to play with something. There is scope to be gained there — you can create a new normality.”
Yet, what is sanctioned in “high fashion” doesn’t necessarily translate to the street. “There’s always going to people who will never understand a man wearing a skirt,” says Darryl “Curtains” Jackson, brand director of En Noir. “So I don’t know if the trend will get that far. But then again, people are always looking to push boundaries.”
What about the average guy, will he be rocking a kilt next winter? The feelings in the Mass Appeal office are mixed. “I can accept it but that doesn’t mean I’m going to wear it,” says Brandon Jenkins, 26. Others are more open to the fashion and the message it sends. “I’m into shock value,” says Baffuor Gyamfi, 25. “I wouldn’t do it for pure aesthetic reasons but I like to make a stance on being an individual.”
Whatever their personal fashion proclivities, most guys are more amenable to variations in dress. “It boils down to information,” says Jackson. “Guys are seeing new styles and fashion has become a cool thing to be into.” Jenkins agrees, “Something that would have shocked 10 years ago doesn’t anymore,” he says. “We’ve become desensitized to the Boy Georges of the world. Now, it’s just water, it’s just oxygen.”