Metrosexual, a term coined by journalist Mark Simpson in 1994, examines the hybridity between the words heterosexual and metropolitan. It describes a sense of style typically worn by heterosexual male-identifying individuals who aren’t afraid to express themselves beyond fashion’s feminine and masculine aspects and style confinements. It may include makeup, jewelry, and more androgynous accessories paired with male-coded outfits such as suits. Its used to describe men who enjoy shopping and style without feeling their masculinity is compromised. Some have hailed it as the death of toxic gender norms in fashion and society.
In 2002 it began with David Beckham reference as the world’s first and most public metrosexual man, and ever since, the term was the go-to description for men with good attention to style, from Giorgio Armani to Brad Pitt. Male Icons like Pitt or Hugh Jackman have embraced this term and encouraged men’s normalization of skin care regimens and keeping up their physical appearance.
Fashion events like the Paris or London Fashion Week have been pushing the boundaries of gender norms since their advent in the 1940s. Previous to this, stores had put on private shows, but in 1943 New York put on the first week-long series of shows. The year 1943 was the height of the second world war, and women were beginning to wear more typically male clothing, such as pants and overalls, as they had to wear practical clothing for work. The fashion shows that year showed women in button-ups and blazers, a far cry from just ten years before women wore form-fitting clingy dresses and furs. Fashion week made its debut by being on the cutting edge of fashion trends and has continued to strive for this ever since.
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Today, such an example of this is Men’s Fashion Week, which started in 2012. This alone shows the evolution of a male attitude about fashion. The presence of a fashion show explicitly directed towards Men and male trends is revolutionary as it recognizes that the male population can actively enjoy style. This is one step of many we are taking to break down outdated and rigid gender norms. Men’s Fashion Week is not the only example of this fluidity of male stylistic trends either; take the show Queer Eye. Called initially Queer Eye For The Straight Guy at its debut in 2003, the name accurately describes its target audience and general motif- typically homosexual fashion trends being worn (and rocked!) by straight men under people’s guidance that are any sexual orientation.
Photo credit: lifestylebyps.com Androgenous fashion and metrosexuality overlap a good deal. Hats, jewelry, and dyed hair are an example of this. It is no longer uncommon to see men, especially in cities such as LA and New York, wearing form-fitted clothing, embellished scarves or hats, and jewelry or piercings that were, until recently, considered feminine. Jewelry companies have begun to target advertisements towards men on Instagram, TikTok, and other social media sites. While studies have shown that men aren’t likely to look at a fashion magazine, seeing Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, or Jaden Smith in a ring or a gold necklace makes them far more likely to purchase one themselves. Between 2012 and 2017, men’s fine jewelry sales went up 22%, according to Euromonitor International, as stated in a NY Times article. Rings and Necklaces lead sales, and gemstones are increasingly included in men’s high fashion trends.
Celebrities have embraced these trends, mainly because their appearance is a core aspect of their celebrity persona for many. Heartthrobs such as Johnny Depp and Ashton Kutcher spend hours on their hair, makeup, and other stylistic choices. As mentioned above, Jaden Smith has become notorious for wearing metrosexual fashion trends, from jewelry to hairstyles to shoes.