The evolution of men’s fashion

Kazeem Kuteyi, staff

As of late, men are becoming more conscious about their personal style and their place in the world of fashion. More than ever, men are now taking unconventional risks when it comes to their clothing choices. There has been a shift from basic hoodies and regular relaxed-cut jeans, to more sophisticated items such as blazers, designer v-neck shirts and tapered jeans.

Jonathan Alarie, store manager of British brand Topman/Topshop located at Yorkdale Shopping Centre, offers his own perspective when it comes to the changing world of menswear. “Men are little more conscious that they look better and cooler in fitted clothing, and that oversized clothing doesn’t do anything for them,” explains Alarie. “When you look six years ago, 99 per cent of people weren’t wearing skinny jeans. I think it’s the information age and people are aware because they see it on blogs and it’s blasted everywhere.”

It could be said that the evolving nature of men’s fashion is a result of what the media portrays. It’s no secret that the media is very influential when it comes to shaping the minds of society, and it is no different when it comes to defining what is and isn’t “cool” in fashion. Giovani Spartaro, manager of Tommy Hilfiger in Yorkdale Shopping Center, echoes this sentiment, “Television is a big part in everyone’s life. When you see how someone is dressing or what they are wearing, you want to be like them.”

Is men’s fashion as a whole really evolving, or are we just making assumptions based on a fashionable wave of a certain few? Terence Sambo, owner of popular UK fashion website and attendee of London Fashion Week, believes that this is just another step in a constantly-changing industry.

“I think what most people fail to see is that even men who wore XL tees and baggy trousers were portraying a certain style. That was the sartorial code for that time,” explains Sambo. “Personally, I feel that men have been stylish ever since the 50’s and that has not changed. Skinny jeans and fitted clothing is the sartorial code for now, so most people are obeying it.”

At one point, the media did portray that wearing baggy clothing was cool, as did celebrities. For instance, Kanye West once wore oversized bape hoodies and multi-coloured sneakers, but his fashion has also evolved into higher couture brands like Givenchy, Celine and Balmain. Kanye even wore a Givenchy leather kilt a few months ago on his North American Watch The Throne tour, making it known that he is serious about taking risks with his fashion. New York based men’s magazine, Complex Magazine, recently published an article on some fashion risks men should take. For example, wearing running tights under shorts, brightly coloured gloves and layered camouflage pieces. Of course, these fashion choices might seem a little too daring for many.

Alarie explains that one does not have to be overly daring in order to be considered stylish. “I don’t know if it’s about risks. I think it’s about the unknown and giving everything a shot,” says Alarie.

“Guys are coming into Topman trying skinny or coloured denim, they’re a little more adventurous with their fashion. It’s not about wearing just a suit. It’s about the socks and the pocket square.”

Menswear is coming into its own individual realm where it is more and more acceptable to care about fashion and appearance. Previously, this type of idea was only explored by women, who have enjoyed the concept of new fashions for quite some time. The unfortunate part of up-to-date fashion is that it can change almost instantly. No one entirely knows where menswear will be headed in 2012, although fashion bloggers like Sambo have their own ideas.

“I might be biased, but I think loads of people are starting to trade the dressy looks for more functional sporty look. ‘Sports chic’ is a relevant term now,” Sambo says.

Whatever the case may be, menswear is certainly coming into its own as a part of culture. Fashion is not just for women anymore.

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