By Josie Gudgeon
Generally, throughout a lot of articles, I have mainly spoken about women. Women’s clothing brands and the work that seamstresses put into creating various garments. However, I feel there are a few amazing men in my life, but I don’t feel that men are celebrated enough; Especially in the fashion industry.
Often men are actually just as into the fashion industry as us women and they pride themselves on their appearance. I know that my partner regularly takes longer than me grooming himself in the mirror although he may not care to admit that. Therefore, I feel that the variety of their clothes on offer shouldn’t be any more limited.
But are all men different? Do they express their personalities through fashion? Speaking to my partner about this as a typical guy, he would say “I don’t express myself through fashion”. But, is this true? Looking at the men in my life, I look at what they all wear and what’s in their wardrobe. From my partner to my dad and my brother, I do not believe any of them have the same style of clothing in their wardrobes. They may not realise it and think they are expressing themselves through fashion because they’re not as enthusiastic about the fashion industry as I am. However, subconsciously the clothes they have chosen to wear are clothes that suit their personalities.
So, why is the menswear section not as large in shops? The fashion industry offers limited choices for men on how they can express themselves. When compared with women’s fashion, men’s choices of clothing, shoes and accessories have been limited in comparison to womenswear. But, are men partially to blame for this? As they don’t embrace the trends, read fashion blogs or magazines. Men are rarely encouraged to talk about fashion to their male friends. Men use the internet to provide inspiration for fashion and to seek clothing advice. This way men never have to openly admit to being interested in the fashion industry.
However, because men use social media platforms such as Instagram for their fashion inspiration, the “#Menswear” is the platform that the majority of men go to look for inspiration. Although, this has led to men looking at the same few photos of grey T-shirts and navy suits, creating a very mundane grid within men’s fashion. As a result of this, the fashion industry is pushed into providing the same dull neutral tone basic staple garments for men as this is what they are led into wanting.
Why does women’s wear get more attention? Because it can be gorgeous, weird, game-changing, and desirable. There are many styles, shapes and patterns to elaborate and differentiate within women’s style. However, menswear on the other hand can be one of two things: weird or boring. There is limited scope for the styles and designs that can be created in menswear. And if you push the styling “out of the box”-so to say- then it becomes weird. I feel that too many men have the fear of breaking the norm of black t-shirts and jeans. So little men wear the fun colourful designs which are put onto shop shelves due to their fear of being judged.
A lot of men stick to global conformity of wearing safe brands. I feel that a lot of today’s brand’s logos have doubled in size, taking over half of the t-shirt. But do we really need logos to tell us what to wear? I feel men look to a brand or an artist i.e. musical artist for inspiration for what to wear. Rather than what they actually feel looks stylish.
We can’t blame shops for having so little space for menswear, as most men don’t want to break the norm and feel most comfortable in simple staple basics.
However, we are now faced in an era where traditional concepts of masculinity and femininity are changing. Increasingly the distinction between menswear and womenswear is becoming less important. Brands are under a lot of pressure to ensure they are as respectable and diverse when influencing gender dynamic fashion. Alessandro Michele the creative director of Gucci states that “It seems only natural to present my men’s and women’s collection together. It’s the way I see the world”. Designing both collections simultaneously allows him to pull concepts from one to the other. He went on to say: “It’s more interesting, sometimes, work on the menswear. You can really shout because menswear is more of the rigid. When you try to manipulate the code of a man’s wardrobes, you can do something really new. It’s pretty interesting. I started thinking about an idea of beauty that, for me, it doesn’t belong to men or women. It’s almost the same; that’s why I put a few men’s looks on women and the reverse.” Michele has been the creative director at Gucci for over 5 years and has used models of both genders in all of his shows.
However, shifting away from are luxury brands, have our high-street brands moved to these conformities? On the 23rd on March 2017, H&M launched a new unisex brand “Denim United” which consist of denim pieces like jeans, jackets and overalls. Along with other basics like tees, jumpers and extra-long button-downs. Marybeth Schmitt H&M spokesperson states: “fashion should always be inclusive”. She goes on to say: “It is very natural for us to launch a unisex collection as fashion is constantly evolving and intersecting, today we see there are no boundaries in democratic style.”
It will be interesting to see how trends change over the coming months and years. Particularly as transgender awareness is on the rise in all aspects of the social sector. It will be fascinating to consider if concepts such as both men’s and women’s sections will be seen as one within shops. Will all clothing be gender-neutral? Will men and women shop as one? Maybe this is how the fashion industry is conforming. But are these approaches too radical?
How do we think masculine men will feel if we conformed to the gender-neutral fashion industry? I think we need to keep in mind that there is a lot of men with a staple and basic style who may not want to conform to a radical fashion scenes, and although they may have little space within shops this provides them with the neutral tone basic style garment which they feel comfortable in and for a large proportion of men in society this is how they feel.