As someone who loves fashion, from the haute couture and the ready to wear collections to the mainstream high street and the alt fashion scene, I know there’s nothing better than falling in love with a garment, imagining all the different ways it can be worn and slotting it in to your wardrobe and your personal style. However, if you’re looking at men’s fashion, then there is little to be excited by.
Image – Straight jeans vs slim jeans, spot the difference
In 2014, leading fashion writer Haley Freeman claimed that menswear is either “weird or boring”. Men’s fashion week consists of various trouser length and thickness of ties, or totally off the cuff unwearable garments. There is simply much more to play with when you’re a womenswear designer. Women have however many different styles of skirt available to them; maxi skirt, mini skirt, midi skirt, A-line, body-con, I could go on. Men don’t even get skirts to wear.
This is especially true if you’re into alt fashion. You have three choices if you’re a guy and you want to look different. You go punk and wear lots of leather and safety pins and big boots; you go 90’s, wear big baggy pants with bits of fabric inexplicably hanging off it and a bowling shirt; or you go trad goth and wear velvet and carry a cane with a skull on it. Other than that, you can wear jeans and tee shirts and hoodies, big woop.
For guys, I think the main way they look alternative is through their hair (both on their heads and their faces) and body mods, which of course are huge indicators, but they don’t work for everyone. What if your beard doesn’t grow or piercings are frowned upon at work?
When an alt gal fancies a bit of online shopping, you’ve got big brands like Killstar, Iron Fist, Disturbia, Gypsy Warrior, House of Widow, UNIF and DollsKill, etc. There’s lots to choose from. The women’s sections are always bursting with something new and there’s always a look book to get excited by. When a guy wants to buy something new, the men’s sections at these same places are either empty or full of graphic t-shirts, stuff that’s modelled on women and accessories.
Since the dawn of goth, people were and are androgynous and men wore women’s clothes and vice versa, so there are no qualms about wearing something modelled on a woman. Despite this, it’s clear that women are catered to first. Killstar, for example, have just launched swimsuits. There are seven options for women, and one pair of Baphomet board shorts for men.
So if you’re feeling a little bit stuck for inspiration, fashion-wise, where do you go? For me, I head to Pinterest, Instagram and various bloggers and vloggers. If you’re a man? Good luck finding anything worthwhile. Half the images that come up when you search #gothguys on insta are just selfies and the rest are girls using the hashtag to get more likes. I’ve asked around on my Twitter, on my blog and my circle of friends and can I find an alt menswear blogger? I think you know the answer. Menswear bloggers are thin on the ground anyway, let alone ones with alternative vibes. If you are one or know one, then please, prove us wrong!
image @Killstar – range of women’s swimsuits
It’s a vicious circle. Designers don’t like creating men’s clothes because it’s perceived as not very interesting. You can’t do much with menswear (apparently), so they don’t really bother. This means there’s not much that’s inspiring menswear bloggers and the regular joes of the world head to the high street or mainstream brands and filter on black. This in turn means that the brand probably don’t get as many sales on their “menswear” therefore discouraging them from making it.
Except, and I’m probably being presumptuous here, most of the people running these brands are men, aren’t they? There’s so much that could be done that doesn’t even stretch the imagination. There’s potential for an alternative take on formalwear, workwear, swimwear, casual button down shirts and more. And I’m not even thinking outside of the box here. Why aren’t they doing more?
There are a few brands doing good stuff with menswear. Dustrial, for example, has some interesting graphic tees and hoodies inspired by science fiction and science fact, guaranteed to get a conversation started. If you’re looking for something a bit more fashion forward, then Virgin Blak are a good place to look. With a very high fashion, couture menswear feel (along with tee-shirts), they have lots of different, interesting cuts and designs, from knife pleat crop pants to cowl-neck tees.
Which are your favourite brands for menswear? Do you have a favourite menswear blogger?