Grace Darlington questions why there’s so much controversy when menswear goes girly
2013 was a big year. The Royal Prince George was born. Andy Murray won Wimbledon. Miley Cyrus gyrated with a foam finger, and most importantly, Kanye West wore a skirt.
When Mr West exhibited the leather Givenchy ensemble on stage during a ’12-12-12’ benefit concert in New York City, media platforms went crazy. Everyone gained an opinion: newspapers repeated adjectives like ‘controversial’ over and over, the skirt gained its own twitter account (@KanyesSkirt for the curious), and artist Lord Jamar even rapped about it, later stating that the skirt ‘had no place in hip hop’. Eventually Kanye asked for the photographs taken of the even to be banned.
But why the controversy? This isn’t the first time male fashion has taken on a stereotypically feminine twist, and it certainly won’t be the last. Rewind back to December 2012 and we see the birth of the megging. That’s the male legging, obviously. The Telegraph claimed the trend was ‘taking the fashion world by storm.’ Celebrities like Russell Brand and Justin Bieber showcased their svelte limbs, whilst retailers such as Uniqlo and Nordstrom stocked the masculine hosiery in a vast array of styles. But the megging didn’t last.
Highlighted by Kanye’s case is a seemingly unfortunate characteristic of male fashion. Put a woman in a suit, no one bats an eyelid. Put a man in a halter-neck (as seen in the JW Anderson SS14 show) and the Daily Mail launches a dogmatic and illiberal tirade labelling the designs ‘atrocious.’ Tailored shirts, ‘boyfriend jeans’ and chunky boots dress a generation of mannequins up and down the high street. We generally embrace the ‘masculine’ trend amongst women, but when there’s a feminine twist on menswear society seems to slowly back away, regressing to a Victorian mentality. Aren’t we all a little bit past the ‘men wear suits, women wear dresses’ phase?
Fashion is a powerful tool in which one can break down gender barriers. Androgynous styling should be embraced by society, not hindered by it. After all, an extension in variety within menswear was long overdue, with similar styles seasonally regurgitated offering a limited selection for the fashion-conscious male. Political statement or fashion statement, a certain satisfaction occurs when witnessing a stereotype turned on its head, and so I think it’s about time we saw a few more skirts on boys.