“We want the world to see femininity as a choice.”

Is Gen Z changing how we view male fashion?

Are the men of this generation re-defining male fashion trends? From wearing makeup to flaunting their midriff with a crop top, what does my generation think about the feminine- masculine trend?

Gen Z, people born in the mid-Nineties and early Noughties, is paving the way for this experimental movement. In the past few years, popular fashion brands have been progressing, viewing fashion as more gender fluid. This has attracted a younger audience. Ann Demeulemeester’s (try pronouncing that without having your dosage of morning caffeine) 2020 spring/ summer collection featured a Parisian sailor look, with a long robe cinched in at the waist to create a feminine silhouette. (see below)

Ann Demeulemeester Spring 2020 Menswear Collection 
Even brands like Dior and Gucci have gotten in on the trend. The Dior Fall 2020 male collection features an abstract array of textures, patterns, and colours combined with psychedelic hats and flowers that scream feminine beauty. (see below)

Dior Men Pre-Fall 2020 Menswear Collection
However, it’s not only the fashion world that has seen a rise in androgynous clothes.
Social media has played a big role in feminizing menswear. One Tik Tok star, Harrison O’Farrell, followed by 320k, is paving the way for a new take on male fashion. One fan said, “He believes in equality, he believes that love, clothes, and responsibilities have no gender,” Young stars like 17-year-old O’Farrell are what makes Gen Z so powerful in the fight for eradicating male toxicity and gender roles. 

O’Farrell wearing a dash of makeup in his current Tik Tok profile.
Despite the forward-thinking of people like Mr O’Farrell and the shift in modern fashion, not all Gen Zers agree. A 23-year-old said, “I’m a traditionalist, I’ve been brought up with traditional views.” When asked about his opinion on men wearing feminine clothes he remarked, “Most of the men who dress in women’s clothing have psychological scarring.” He represents a different view, one that believes there’s been a drastic change in the media representation of male fashion. It is being used as a way of pushing unusual views on impressionable teens. “I’m not saying it’s an illness but it’s not normal,” claimed the Gen Zer. For him, fashion should remain separate for different genders.
Opinions have often been divided, past generations think that the act of dressing more feminine is intrinsically linked to sexuality, those men who wear dresses are called transvestites or gay. Why would straight men wear silk dresses and pleated skirts? The trend goes a little deeper than just men in dresses. The consensus, especially within the male population, is that to wear such a thing as a feminine blouse you have to be queer. Although many queer designers were the influence behind a lot of brands branching out into a ‘softer,’ masculine look, this trend isn’t exclusively for the queer. Proponents for the androgynous style adopted by fashion brands and celebrities alike see gender as a game and sexual orientation as something that shouldn’t define what you wear.
In an interview with L’Officiel Harry Styles (pictured below) opened up about gender norms, “In fashion and other fields, these parameters are no longer as strict as before, and it gives rise to great freedom.” The singer/ songwriter has always been clear that there are no labels. For him, life is about embracing your individual self and not letting others dictate how you should dress or who you should date. 

Harry Styles Debuts the Mary Jane for a Men
Much like the 26-year-old singer, there are Gen Zers who celebrate the feminine-masculine trend, a 17-year-old advocate for gender fluidity in fashion opened up about what it means to her. “It’s inclusive, you know? It shows change is happening. Not too long ago men that dressed like that would’ve been called transgender, which is a completely different thing.” In her baggy t-shirt and freshly applied lipgloss she went on to say that men who dress more feminine are, “comfortable in themselves, which is way more attractive.” 
As a female who often dresses in more of a masculine way, she too has experienced hate, at a young age she remembers being judged for going out in a male t-shirt, “to me it was just a t-shirt and I couldn’t understand why anyone would have an issue with it.” At the time she was only seven and remembers asking her mum why someone of the opposite gender kept pointing to her t-shirt and asking why she was wearing it, “my mum, the legend that she is, simply said it doesn’t matter, it’s just a t-shirt.” Reflecting on this poignant moment, she says “genders are a boundary, you can be what you want to be, clothes are all made of the same fabric, they’re just clothes.” 
While fashion becomes even more experimental, it’ll be interesting to see where the feminine- masculine trend will go. With experts saying that fashion shows aren’t expected to return to pre-COVID-19 form it is less likely we will be seeing more flashy prints and styles on the catwalk. Digital alternatives are taking over so it seems like Gen Z will be at the forefront of a massive change in the fashion industry. Although acceptance and the boundaries of what society perceives as, ‘normal male behavior,’ are being pushed it is still questionable whether the feminine side of masculinity will continue to be embraced. Whatever happens, 2020 has been the year of change and the resounding message is to express yourself however you want.
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