Op-Ed

Milano Moda Uomo Spring 2009: Looking for a Hero

Balthier from Final Fantasy XII

Balthier from Final Fantasy XII

DALLAS, May 21, 2008 / FW/ — With Milano Moda Uomo Spring 2009 in the horizon, but everyone going gaga over the upcoming ‘Sex & The City’ movie, the usual interest for menswear had been eclipsed with the high profile coverage of women’s fashion, albeit it is for a movie.

Which brings us the question – does menswear need a new hero? And, I don’t mean a designer, but a new icon, be it fictional characters like what Carrie Bradshaw and friends did for womenswear or real life heroes like David Beckham, the de facto poster boy of metrosexuals.

Still, metrosexuality did not really sit well among men. Except for the urban male who had embraced metrosexuality without question, the regular American male who drives a truck, an SUV even a sports car did not see themselves as metrosexuals. They just saw themselves as men.

Their heroes remain to be sports stars from Kobe Bryant to Andre Agassi, yet though the appeal of sports heroes are universal, they are not really worshipped because they are fashion plates. They are admired because of their game play.

Perhaps, that is the key to men’s fashion. Unlike women who admire great dressers like Nicole Kidman and Angelina Jolie, men in general could not be bothered with what Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise are wearing because they are expected to look good.

Yet, the likes of Kobe Bryant, though they are always dressed well are not expected to be fashion plates. They are expected to be great at their games, which brings us to another world, open to everyone but mostly populated by men – video gaming.

The video game world has a lot of heroes and there are too many of them to mention here. Quite frankly, it will be hard to name all of them because the video game genres are as varied as the movies. Still, it will not behoove us to mention the 14-year Final Fantasy series by Square Enix (formerly Square Soft) wherein their heroes and heroines have captured the imagination of both teens and adult gamers.

On its latest installment Final Fantasy XII (the 13th installment is due in North America late this year), one of the main characters Balthier had captured the heart of both male and female gamers, albeit the female gamers make up only a very small percentage of the gaming industry.

I won’t go into a review of the game (here is a link for a fashion review of Final Fantasy XII), but needless to say, Balthier’s total look, which of course includes his outfit, had gotten everyone’s attention. (See photo above, courtesy of Square Enix, copyright Square Enix)

Maybe, that’s what menswear need, a fictional hero that will not grow old. The same way that Marvel comics gave us Superman and Batman, our childhood heroes that have actually inspired real clothes worn by real men, perhaps, Balthier is something that the internet generation needs. After all, they have been born and raised in the digital world.

(For those of you who have not played Final Fantasy XII, here’s a video clip)

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