The notion of masculinity is being redefined in line with our generation’s liberal beliefs on identity. The rigid walls of gender normativity are being broken down in favour of fluidity in sexuality, gender and personal expression. Menswear has experienced a significant shift in the last few years largely in response to the changing social environment.
Caring for one’s appearance is not only a subject reserved for the realm of the womanly. In support of the growing market for Menswear labels, NewGen Men was established in 2009 to nurture young talent. In our interview with Course Director for MA Fashion at CSM, Fabio Piras, last year, he admitted to be increasing the numbers of menswear on the MA. “In fact, the applications for menswear this year are beyond anything that one could ever imagine. The energy of London Collections: Men and the fantastic success of Craig Green [who graduated from the MA in 2013] are partly responsible for that.” The last two winners of the L’Oréal Professionnel Creative Award at the CSM MA show, John Skelton and Harry Evans, were both Menswear Designers. This says a lot about the burgeoning creativity and interest towards menswear in response to the growth of the market.
Luxury designers like Jean Paul Gautier, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo have a long tradition of creating long shirts or skirts paired with tailored jackets and other structured pieces in their mens collections. Menswear labels like Hood By Air or Gypsy Sport continue this tradition by pushing skirts and other traditionally female-exclusive clothing to men with more accessible price points and mainstream appeal. Light materials in vibrant colours like pinks, yellows and oranges are spotted down the runway of mens shows, alongside looks embellished with traditionally feminine elements like floral motifs, lace and bows — modelled by a mix of men and women.
While things like strappy six inch stiletto heels may always remain in the realm of the pain tolerant woman, it may be safe to suggest that the relationship between Menswear and Womenwear is no longer expressed as contrasting boundaries, but rather as a gradient.