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IT boys and the Fashion Industry in 2017

January 4, 2018

A Little Dictionary of Clothes, Accessories and Men of the Moment

If menswear of the previous years has thrown you into a nebula from which you see no way out, then you definitely need a guide. Below you’ll find an extremely practical one so you’ll know who and what matters in the stylistic landscape of the season. You’re welcome!

Ripped, almost torn apart jeans, Yeezy sneakers, beanies, dad sneakers, Instagram posts tagged with #MyCalvins, über-skinny pants wore exclusively with cowboy boots or Vans, products superimposed with the Supreme logo and the hairstyle which lead to an increase in hair ties’ sales, the man bun, seem to have taken over men street style. 

Meanwhile, on the runway, big fashion houses like Gucci propose all-denim outfits with patches, they bring back clothes with epaulettes, as shown by Vetements, or produce crop tops for men. Other initiatives, such as RompHim, a male jumpsuit, raise over 350.000 dollars on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform. Therefore, questions such as “What is going on with menswear?” and “What is menswear direction?” are perfectly understandable. 

Currently menswear seems more demasculinized than ever before (and anyway, what does “masculine” mean today?) and seems to be running away from any kind of convention. Still, before examining the influences and the directions of menswear, it is necessary to go over the vocabulary required for such conversation. Therefore, I am proposing you a short dictionary of men style and contemporary pop culture. 

#MyCalvins. The hashtag associated with the Calvin Klein brand counts more than half million Instagram posts in which customers show how they wear their CK underwear.

A$ap Rocky. American rapper and music producer. Most famous member of the hip hop band A$AP Mob and one of the unofficial Gucci ambassadors. 

Beanie. A thick and long sock-like hat, frequently worn in an unpractical way only on the tip of the head.

Brooklyn Beckham. The oldest son of David and Victoria Beckham, Brooklyn has already published a photography book. Considering his family, his connections with the fashion world are not few; Brooklyn being the cover star of multiple magazines such as Miss Vogue and a Fashion Week front row attendant. 

Crop Top. Literally, a cropped top. This garment’s dimensions are slightly bigger than a woman’s bustier, in effect leaving the abdomen bare.

Fedez. The Italian rapper of the moment, currently engaged with  Chiara Ferragni, the most popular fashion blogger and entrepreneur. He is one of the biggest Supreme fans, and their products appear even in one of his latest videos, Senza Pagare. 

Harry Styles. The unofficial leader of former boy band One Direction, who meanwhile became a solo singer, actor and style icon.

Jared Leto. The soloist of the pop rock band 30 Seconds to Mars, Jared Leto is the image of Gucci and an artist who was never afraid of bold clothing choices.

Justin Bieber. Canadian singer turned famous during his teenage years, now one of the most well known pop artists in the US.

Kanye West. American rapper, music producer and clothing designer. His first collection, for F/W 15, received mixed reviews, but along the seasons, Kanye established a name for himself in the fashion world with highly watched and debated shows, his catwalk presentations becoming one of the most looked forward shows of NYFW. Kanye is also married to Kim Kardashian, a constant figure in the fashion industry and the most widely known person to wear clothes designed by him.

Man Bun. Masculine hairstyle which entails long hair to be tied in a bun (usually on top of the head).

Nick Jonas. The youngest of the Jonas brothers, Nick became a solo artist, actor and model, having recently shot a campaign for Calvin Klein.

Nike Huarache. Model of sport shoes originally launched in 1991, easily recognizable after its heel area, which ends with a thin layer of neoprene that looks like a sock.

Pharrell Williams. Besides the fact that he is a musician and producer distinguished with 10 Grammys, Pharrell is also one of the boldest artists in what regards his red carpet appearances. 

Romphim. A short jumpsuit for men in pastels colors and funky prints. The crowdfunding campaign got viral on the Internet, bringing into discussion the fact that are no reasons for which only women should be allowed to wear short jumpsuits. 

Supreme. Initially a brand dedicated to the young skate and hip hop subculture, Supreme rapidly became one of the most loved brands thanks to its multiple collaborations with Nike, Air Jordan, Vans, Levi’s, Comme des Garçons and the most recent one, Louis Vuitton. The ques for the new products are already famous, their collections being so sought after that they get sold out in less than 3 minutes.

Vans. American brand dedicated tk skate shoes, today very much present in youth’s closets. 

Vetements. French brand created in 2009 by designer Demna Gvasalia. The Georgian origins of the designer have become the signature of the brand, being associated with the eastern european and soviet influences of the clothes and the styling.

Yeezy. (1) Collaboration between Adidas and Kanye West for a line of sport shoes. So far, the collaboration gathers three models: Boost 750, Boost 350 and Boost 950. The shoes get sold out in as much as 90 seconds from the moment they become available online.
(2) Kanye West’s clothing line.

Zayn Malik. Another former member of One Direction, Zayn is now a famous solo artist and at the same time, a trendsetter, alongside his girlfriend, Gigi Hadid.

At a more detailed analysis of the elements and participants from fashion’s chess table above I am sure you have noticed some patterns. I have identified three:

Brands love It Boys
The first pattern refers to the two sides: the fashion houses and IT boys. And although there is nothing new in the fact that most fashion houses pick someone from the showbiz industry to represent them, the examples above indicate a more niche approach of the brand ambassadors typologies. They are no longer people everybody knows, but some influencers who would have adopted anyway the aesthetics and the products of the brand. Concrete examples in this case may be Fedez, never separated from his red Supreme duffle bag and his logo t shirts or A$ap Rocky and Jared Leto and their closets full of Gucci. Therefore, the transition from fan to ambassador or image associated with the brand comes naturally and credibly. This aspect further leads to more exposure for the brand, which is not a surprising effect of using brand ambassadors, but in this case it leads to the authentic diversification of the audience. Would rap music lovers have worn head to toe Gucci had it not been for the influence one of the genre’s most popular icons had?

In the dictionary above there is an intentional high number of references to two subcultures which now have a special influence on fashion: the skate culture and the pop-rap culture. Although the two categories don’t normally overlap with the clothing and accessories industries, men’s closets include increasingly more sporty, casual and even athleisure pieces, in the shape of sneakers, sport shoes, sport hats, beanies, jogging pants and hoodies. So, through ambassadors from skate and pop-rap cultures, companies specific to those niches, like Supreme and Vans, bring into the mainstream elements typical for those areas.

The Family Tree
And, finally, I cannot ignore the personal links that IT Boys have with key people in the fashion industry. With a mom awarded with the CFDA prize in 2015 and with one of the world’s most stylish men as a father, there was no surprise that Brooklyn Beckham got influent in the fashion world, even becoming the photographer of a Burberry campaign in 2016. Moreover, his younger brother, Romeo, was the protagonist of a Christmas themed video for the same fashion house back in 2015, when he was only 13. Another stylish man who developed ties to the fashion industry is Zayn Malik, whose girlfriend is one of the most well paid models in the world. Together, they were the protagonists of a Vogue US cover in which they both sported… nothing else but Gucci. Should I further mention the Vanity Fair Italia cover with Fedez and Chiara Ferragni, fashion world’s number 1 influencer as declared by Forbes? Or the multiple Harper Bazaar’s covers with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West?

All these patterns indicate the fact that fashion is in a perpetual change, that we are constantly redefining what style, masculinity and elegance mean and that brands should listen more to subcultures if they want to stay relevant and even more, if they want their name to be on everybody’s lips.

Article originally published in ELLE Romania, ELLE Man supplement, November 2017 issue, number 240

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