Published on February 22, 2013 | by Jawad Elattar

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Mirror, mirror on the wall

A young man gets ready for a night out.

The younger generation of men are becoming more conscious about the way they look. [Dilantha Dissanayake]

French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultierfamously said: “What is masculine and what is feminine, anyway?

Why should men not show that they can be fragile or seductive? I am only happy when there is no discrimination.”

The AW13 Men’s London Collections – the precursor to London Fashion Week (LFW) – took place a few weeks before Fashion Week.

An array of designers showcased their collections for the coming season and the exhibition of British brands was in its second year.

Hosted by the British Fashion Council, the focus was on championing menswear and the interest was extensive.

Dylan Jones, Editor of GQ and chair of the Menswear Committee, commented that, “the inaugural men’s week was far more successful than any of us anticipated and we have been overwhelmed by the support and enthusiasm for the project from designers, retailers, buyers and the press.”

The end of metrosexual

But what about the common man? It is brilliant to see that men’s fashion designers are finally getting the credit they deserve from people in the industry, but has this interest filtered through to the average Joe?

It would appear so. In fact, it seems that this has been going on for a while – near on 20 years – with the rise of the ‘metrosexual’.

It is brilliant to see that men’s fashion designers are finally getting the credit they deserve from people in the industry.

Coined in 1994 by Mark Simpson, the term was used to describe a new type of ‘90s man: fashion conscious without being labelled a homosexual, the metrosexual was a new breed of man that was catered for and accompanied by men’s magazines such as GQ and Loaded throughout the decade.

Then the word ‘heteropolitan’ emerged some time around 2005. The metrosexual was old news – linguistically speaking at least.

On the surface, there seemed to be little to separate this label and its popular predecessor. However, a big difference was that the heteropolitan was seemingly less self-involved than the metrosexual.

The rise of the heteropolitan

In 2002, Simpson claimed that the metrosexual “might be officially gay, straight or bisexual, but this is utterly immaterial because he has clearly taken himself as his own love object and pleasure as his sexual preference.”

However, a quick search for the definition of heteropolitan distinguishes them as “neither beer-guzzling sexists obsessed with football, nor are they excessively moisturised pink-shirted effeminates.

“Over six in ten 16 to 24-year-olds like to dress in a fashionable way.” Mintel

“Heteropolitans are an in-between mix that enjoy both the bars and the salons, and are committed to their relationships with their wives or girlfriends.”

Overall, the retail sector saw a drop in overall revenue for 2012. However, when considering the research surrounding menswear the outlook was both positive and informative.

For example, a 2011 report published by Mintel – a London based research and analysis company – showed that the men’s fashion sector was then showing signs of being “the first to emerge from the recession”.

Another notable finding revealed that “over six in ten 16 to 24-year-olds like to dress in a fashionable way,” which, although not surprising, was higher than the general average of four in ten men.

Made-to-measure

The report also added, “several high street retailers such as TM Lewin, Reiss and Moss Bros, have introduced a made-to-measure shirt and suit service as tailoring has come back into fashion.”

These findings were echoed in a report the following year, which stated that, “less than one in ten men struggle to find clothing which is both fashionable and flatters their figure, compared with almost three in ten women.” This is a statistic that – based on current trends – both men and women would find hard to argue with.

Men’s jeans have been getting skinnier, their shirts more fitted, and their image generally more considered.

It has even become known for young women to buy their jeans in men’s shops as they prefer the fit, in the same way that young men are borrowing items from their girlfriends’ wardrobes; jeans, beanies and T-shirts included.

However, with the younger generation of men it feels as if being aware of the latest fashions and investing more time in appearance is less contrived or outlandish than it once was.

Maybe it is because the metrosexuals of the ‘90s and the heteropolitans of the mid ’00s paved the way for the ‘fashionable young man’ of recent times, but this may just be an era in which cultural, social, and sexual stereotypes in fashion have fallen by the wayside.

 

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