Op-Ed

Metrosexmania: Will It Affect Men’s Fashion?

David & Victoria Beckham

David & Victoria Beckham

DALLAS, Apr 21, 2004/ FW/ — British writer Mark Simpson coined the term “metrosexual” in 1994 in an article he wrote for the UK national newspaper, Independent.

It did not cross the Atlantic until July 2002, when he wrote the article “Meet the Metrosexual” on Salon.com, in which he cited British soccer star David Beckham (photo at left) as the poster boy of metrosexuality.

Here is Simpson’s pithy definition from that article: “The typical metrosexual is a young man with money to spend, living in or within easy reach of a metropolis — because that’s where all the best shops, clubs, gyms and hairdressers are. He 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. Particular professions, such as modeling, waiting tables, media, pop music and, nowadays, sport, seem to attract them but, truth be told, like male vanity products and herpes, they’re pretty much everywhere.”

“After ‘Meet the metrosexual’ aired on Salon,” says Simpson, “metrosexuality went from being a visually to a textually transmitted disease — the word seems to have become even more popular than the phenomenon it describes.” There are now over 24,000 Google hits for the term.

Like most urban myths and legends, the term “metrosexual” had taken on a new meaning from what Mark Simpson had originally defined it. To some, the term metrosexual is a straight male who is a fashionista and in touch with his feminine side, i.e. in the heart and mind of a metrosexual, Venus and Mars coexist in harmony.

Metrosexmania had reached phenomenal proportions that it has even touched Middle America — in a recent hilarious episode of SOUTH PARK, all the town’s males turn metrosexual after watching an episode of QUEER EYE.

Here in Dallas, where most men still consider wearing a tie as the epitome of dressing up, there are advertising in the Dallas Morning News from men’s stores saying, “We cater to metrosexuals.”

So, this question is begging to be asked, “Has the metrosexmania reached the fashion runways? Is the metrosexual even present on the catwalk?”

My answer is NO! The metrosexual phenomenon has had no effect at all on how menswear designers dream, plan or execute their collections.

Designers get their inspirations from a lot of things – history, everyday life, philosophy, art, popular culture.

Strictly catering to the metrosexual had never been seen on the runway. Collections cater to men in general. There are NO collections strictly for gay men, or straight men or bisexual men… Just men!

And the more I think about it, the more I cannot imagine Giorgio Armani, Prada, Gucci, Versace, Fendi, D Squared and all the other menswear designers showing in Milan announcing that they cater to metrosexuals.

The metrosexual by nature is a fashion follower. He might not be a fashion victim at all. But he does not define fashion. He is just more confident going inside a store to choose his clothes, that’s all!

My husband, whom I will describe as a regular Joe and the farthest from being a metrosexual, always needs me when he goes shopping. Except for basics, such as underwear and socks, I buy his clothes. (Being a fashion editor has its advantages.)

Of course, a metrosexual does not need a wife, or a girlfriend, or even his mother to go clothes shopping. He knows what he wants and what will look good on him.

So, he goes to Armani or Prada or Gucci store armed with the knowledge of what’s hot and what’s not in men’s fashion.

But does he define fashion? Not even in a long shot. David Beckham, the accepted poster boy of metrosexuals is a fashion plate, but he does not define fashion for men. The fashion designers do.

Tom Ford

Tom Ford

Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford (photo at right) during his days at Gucci, Miuccia Prada and Jil Sander are some of the names that come up to mind.

Even popular culture, in general define fashion, the way that hip-hop had affected it. Sometimes a rock band will. Remember the Beatles with their mop heads and the Seattle rock bands with their grunge look?

Though the world had gone gaga over the metrosexual, and the media (including this publication) had written in-depth articles about him, the thread connecting the metrosexuals is still so thin that they cannot be a “political action group” (as in Washington D.C. PAC) even if they want to.

An individual metrosexual can affect fashion if he has the right “job.” If Tom Ford (see photo above) is a metrosexual (I don’t know if he defines himself as a metrosexual or not), then a metrosexual has affected fashion.

So what has the metrosexuals done for menswear? They have increased sales! It sounds so commercial and mercenary, but that can be it.

Though let it be said that even before the advent of metrosexuals, the men’s grooming industry, which includes clothing is about $6 billion or more a year in the U.S. alone.

[MARI DAVIS]