Saturday, February 7, 2009

Men At Work

It’s about time! If you haven’t heard the men’s fashion world has been and seems to be continually expanding! If you haven’t read the reports: menswear sales have increased by 2.3% compared to the 3% drop in womenswear since last May 2008 (AP). The Associated Press recognizes men's renewed interest in fashion by new silhouettes and an interest in an updated wardrobe which they say is even leading some stores to change how they market to men, who are now increasingly buying their own clothing.

You can see this is having a direct effect on designers and labels such as The Olsens for The Row, Christopher Decarnin for Balmain, Gareth Pugh, and Alexander Wang who have all announced recently that they are expanding their lines to include menswear. Even Balenciaga has taken notice by boldly including menswear in their last women’s show in Paris back in October ( Not to mention, London just added 13 additional men’s shows to their fashion week line-up at the end of February. Just in case you needed more support-look nowhere else than to the suffering magazine market that has recently introduced many new men’s fashion magazines(i.e. Vogue hommes japan, Nylon guys, Man About Town, etc.) and VMAN’s expansion from a bi-annual to a quarterly release.

This growing market seems to reflect a creative movement in the industry that has been made up of designers who all seem to be pushing the envelope with men and the way they dress. This can be seen across the board in the very recent past and most notably in the immergence and apparent successes of Thom Browne’s “short suit“, Tom Ford’s highly fitted and sexualized namesake garments, Hedi Slimane’s “thinning” work for Dior Homme, Alexander McQueen’s theatrical approach and Miuccia Prada with her delicate sometimes daring perspective- all of which seem to have sparked this period of flirtation through innovation and experimentation between men and fashion that slowly continues to flourish.

What does this all mean for the guys? Hopefully that we are slowly gaining more equality, visibility and modernization not only with ourselves, but within the mainly female dominated fashion sphere. What do I say? It’s about time. It seems men are finally recognizing and accepting that they have just as much interest in looking good and playing with their style… and why not? We have been stuck with such monotonous color schemes, expected looks, and predictable shapes for so long. Jeff Blee, a furnishings merchandise manager at Brooks Brothers, says that if anything, menswear is getting more colorful even calling it’s future “exuberant.” (MR Magazine).

As the future is concerned I only see growth of men’s’ role in fashion even in spite of the economy. Take a look at hockey player Sean Avery and football Player Stewart Bradley both who have recently taken steps outside of their stereotyped sports role to pursue a place in fashion. Bravo, we need more men who aren’t afraid to question traditional roles and stand up for the things they enjoy. As menswear continues to grow- support it and get up men, be yourself and get to work.