I'm So Bored with Men's Fashion
This post should start with a disclaimer: I'm not talking about actual fashion here. I'm talking about what is available to most men in most department stores across the parts of the country that aren't New York or L.A. I'm talking about the kind of clothing that your typical middle-class dad has access to. When you're reading this, think of a guy in Green Bay, WI instead of a guy in Brooklyn, NY. What is he wearing? Now we're on the same page.
Another disclaimer: No hate to Cameron Dallas. He generally dresses extremely well and his style should be an inspiration for any guy out there reading this post.
So - on to the good stuff. You heard it here first. I'm *so* bored with men's fashion.
There are a few reasons as to why I'm frustrated with men's fashion. My biggest issue is stagnation. To be frank, the offerings for men in middle America haven't changed much in decades. Sure, color schemes have shifted and the sizes of ties have differed, but men essentially have the same options for clothing year after year. Shirts and pants reign supreme in department stores - and there is very little variation.
Think about the boys (or men... depending) that you sat next to in your college lectures. These men were probably wearing some sort of look derived from this formula: shirt + pants = outfit. The shirt could be a t-shirt or a button-up and the pants could be jeans, khakis or sweats.
Now that I'm thinking about it, it might be easier to get dressed as a boy.
So what's the problem? How did we end up with such few options for fashion for your typical guy?
The first issue is the fashion world's view of the middle-class man. Based on what I have witnessed in department stores across the Midwest, it is clear that the fashion industry does not think that the average man has an interest in his clothing. They don't believe that he cares about following trends, or emulating what he sees in GQ.
This is in contrast to the industry's view of the average woman. Although it takes a while for trends to trickle down from the runway to the mall, it is clear that retailers are concerned with making women feel fashionable. Fast-fashion sites have an even quicker turnaround on trends, which gives women affordable, of-the-moment options.
For example, my mom can go to the mall and find a piece that has adapted a trend or two from the past season's runway shows. My dad? Not so much.
Another issue with the current state of men's clothing is the men's high fashion world. Unlike women's collections, which consist of stunning clothing that can be commercialized and made available at a mass market level, men's fashion produces clothing that is not translated for the mainstream consumer.
Menswear designers have found it so difficult to create something "new" that they have turned to ultra-creative design elements to stand out. However, these trends can push the envelope too far and make clothing difficult to commercialize. If a department store or fast fashion retailer doesn't believe that they can sell it in mass quantities, they won't make it. This is why mainstream men's fashion remains stagnant season after season.
The current trend toward non-gender-binary silhouettes is an example of this. Men working the runway in skirts for the past few seasons has been revolutionary. However, most men in America are still not comfortable with the idea of feeling a breeze, if you know what I mean. Large retailers know this and refuse to move away from tried-and-true pieces like your good ol' shirt and pants combo.
So what comes first - the consumer or the retailer?
The obvious answer is that we will just have to wait for consumers to be ready for these types of trends to become mainstream. However, the fashion industry knows that consumers need to be primed to purchase certain things. Customers don't "like" clothing inherently - they like it because marketing tells them why they should like it. Fun, right? :)
Fashion needs to speak to men in a more realistic way. GQ has recently been doing a better job at trying to target your average guy (less extreme affluence and more "normal" affluence), and men's health publications have begun adding fashion into their content mix. However, we have a long way to go from this perspective.
A simpler way to begin to help new and exciting men's fashion trends seep into the general conscious is to explicitly celebrate male celebrities who try something new on the red carpet. The more that we can point to specific examples of stylish men like Harry Styles and Scott Disick (who I think has been wearing relatable, yet interesting clothing as of late), the more confident the average guy will be in trying something new.
Another thought that I had - why aren't more men on Pinterest? I know that it is a growing segment for the platform, but I think that if more men were users, there would be more awareness of how other men are dressing. That's the first step in developing a sense of style: finding someone you admire and learning from what they wear.
Men's fashion has a long way to go before it is on par with the variety found in womenswear. However, if fashion publications find a way to speak to the average man in a way that is exciting and relatable, change can be spurred in this stagnant industry. Let's all cross our fingers and hope that this means more Harry Styles lookalikes are in our future!