Bending The Rules
|Words by Dmitri Ruwan:|
If you take a look around you there’s something brewing: a new wave of energy, and an undercurrent of unbeatable force. Call it what you will, a movement like no other is underfoot; that of the millennial man’s fashion choices. Men are no longer satisfied to stand in the background as their spouses inherit the spotlight, and why should they be? The new generation of male celebrity culture has taught us that making a fashion statement is no longer just a woman’s prerogative.
Kanye West is a prime example of this; though many are quick to shift the focus onto his rather outrageous public remarks and antics, men’s fashion today simply wouldn’t be the same without Mr. West. The rapper’s penchant for sporting ripped jeans, Givenchy skirts and distressed Yeezy hoodies has not only resulted in an influx in the production of athleisure-inspired pieces, but he has created a ripple effect across the wardrobe choices of men all over the globe. Why else do you see men wearing their denim jackets just ever so slightly off-shoulder? Kanye did it first.
A new wave of nonchalance has permeated the formality of our lives. Be that as it may, hoodies and ripped denim aren’t all it takes to break through the proverbial glass of conventionalism. After all, what’s better than pairing this new sense of casualness with the adventurous flare of a rock star? Jared Leto utilises the power of metamorphosis; the actor and musician is a known chameleon when it comes to his character specific movie roles. Pay close attention and you’ll notice how he incorporates this into his gender bending style choices. The actor, whose current label obsession is Gucci, pairs vintage rock star T-shirts with silk bomber jackets and washed denim for daytime, while red carpet and more formal events are treated to a cacophony of vibrantly printed suits and embroidered capes. Though the looks are at times too avant-garde for the ‘average Joe’, there is a sense of celebration to the freedom we have earned. Why shy away from hand-appliqued begonias across tapered trousers when you look so darn good in them?
Acclaimed musician A$AP Rocky portrays a world rife with cultural struggles, LED lights and endless parties as seen through the eyes of a club kid. A walking beacon for the revival of Eighties-styled denim, Adidas tracksuits and oversized coats, what truly sets him apart as a visionary is his unique ability to pair colours and layers. Proving that bubble-gum pink, lilac shearling and ruby red aren’t just for the fairer sex, A$AP Rocky has provided a much needed re-awakening of the senses, which isn’t to say that men haven’t been experimenting with fashion through the decades. Elvis was a pioneer for a very particular shade of baby pink and James Dean basically invented the leather jacket. However, while women’s fashion has often been used as a medium to express both freedom and individuality, men are often segregated into a column of archaic rules.
Remember the uproar that occurred when famed footballer David Beckham wore a sarong during the 1998 World Cup? Make a mental note that this was also the same year that Tom Ford’s controversial campaign imagery for Gucci was all the rage. Just five years later, Jean Paul Gaultier sent male models in skirts down the runway in his 1984 show ‘And God Created Man.’ The show cited inspiration that ranged from the traditional Scottish kilt to Japanese hakama, and was considered outrageous at the time. For all their cultural significance these pieces were deemed ridiculous when presented as a more wearable-look, and while it’s safe to say that in 2017 we aren’t voting to remove the rules governing men’s style entirely, we’re certainly moulding them to reflect our broader understanding of masculinity itself.
The real difference begins with abolishing the stigma that is associated with the act of dressing. It is no longer silly, frivolous or effeminate to take 30 minutes between deciding whether you’d rather purchase the new Yeezy sneakers or that badass Balmain bomber. It’s perfectly acceptable to notice the difference between cashmere and polyester-blended knitwear just as much as it is acceptable to pair a backpack with your formal suit or don a Rick Owens cape. The sense of rigidness that controlled our aesthetic as men has finally been lifted and while these celebrity icons serve as beacons for that change, they come from a long line of unsung heroes that proved evolution is our strongest asset.