For centuries, fashion dictated societal status and how much class a man had. Dressing nice meant something for males. Fashion trends became the focus of many up until the early 20th century. Over time, this phenomena of fashion evolved into a social stigma. The idea of paying attention to what occurred in the fashion world took on a negative connotation within society. In 2016, no reasons should exist for men to not like fashion because it is socially acceptable for men to take an interest in fashion.
A century-long stigma
The stigma that men liking fashion makes them appear feminine began in the early 20th century. Commercial marketing began to create gender-specific advertisements certain from World War II onward. Hollywood perpetuated this idea around the same time as well.
“I think this has to do a lot with the turn of how men were seen in movies such as adopting new heroes in movies like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood and even James Dean, these rough and tumble M*A*S*H-style men who didn’t have time or energy to look good” said Melanie Kim, senior art major. “Fashion was then seen as some superfluous thing that women do.”
This stigma deeply embeds itself in society because women and homosexual men predominantly run the fashion industry. This unfortunate association happened solely based on the fact of how many women and homosexual men work in the industry. Because of this, men have feared negative sanctions within society if they deeply care about fashion.
An all-inclusive art form
Fashion should not cause fear. It exists as an art form. The hybrid of wearability and artistic expression surpasses just wearing pieces of cloth and walking down a runway. Creative directors of fashion houses like Marc Jacobs and Yves Saint Laurent have designed clothes for people to both marvel at and wear.
It is perfectly okay to like fashion as a guy. Fashion essentially exists as the backbone of how humans function in society. Without it, what would people wear? Humans would not know how to present themselves.
Men also run a lot of the fashion industry. Many of the top fashion houses in existence today have men as their creative directors. Although women and gay men seem to run the industry, there is a niche for straight men.
“I think it’s important to emphasize that there are men in the fashion industry. The stereotype is that a lot of them are gay in the fashion industry,” Kim said. “For the straight man to get involved in fashion, it looks different from Vogue, but it can still happen.”
Taking an interest in fashion parallels taking an interest in any other form of art. Liking fashion differs in no way from enjoying paintings or sculptures. The universal nature of caring about the arts cannot segregate fashion just to certain genders or sexual orientations just because of societal norms. Fashion belongs to all people, men included.