The David Bowie tribute jacket presented by Gucci at the recent autumn/winter Milan menswear fashion week, which subsequently took over social media, had the industry swooning. But the cut and designs may have regular men wondering what all the fuss was about.
It’s an extreme example of “genderless” style, but the trend has been going strong for several years on runways and editorial pages of the fashion world, says Vogue International columnist Suzy Menkes.
High-end houses such as Louis Vuitton, J.W.Anderson and Lanvin have been turning out head-turning gender-fluid looks, while celebrities like Will Smith’s son Jaden, who stars in Louis Vuitton’s spring /summer ‘16 women’s campaign, live in a world in which “there are no codes on who should wear an evening gown as regards to the division between sexes,” she explains.
“Preconceptions about clothes have changed mightily, and it now seems perfectly normal for a man to wear a giant sweatshirt with animal prints or landscape views. In contrast to past demonstrations, blurring the genre today is not a provocative statement — it’s just a way of life,” says Menkes, who also wondered if this could apply to a generation with fewer prejudices and less purchasing power.
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And shoppers are responding. According to the latest Business of Fashion report from 2013, the luxury goods market for men grew from 9 to 13 percent. The NPD Group, a U.K.-based market research firm, reported that in the U.S. alone, sales of men’s apparel rose by 5 percent in 2013 to over $60 billion — outpacing womenswear.
Luxury brands like Hermès, Lanvin and Prada are opening more dedicated stores than ever before. LVMH, the conglomerate which has a stake in all of the aforementioned labels, invested $135 million in the menswear category.
“Now that men are more concerned with dressing better, looking better, they do not have to be gay to consume fashion,” says Colombian designer Juan Pablo Socarrás, speaking of the new menswear fashion phenomenon. “There are many icons on social networks who now have a world of information accessible for those who seek their identity through this. Look at [soccer players] Cristiano Ronaldo or [Lionel] Messi posing for big brands.”