A model struts the runway at Rick Owens. Photo: Getty Images
Menswear, like all fashion, is cyclical. But can it also be ambisexual? Fifty years after Rudi Gernreich sent Peggy Moffatt out into the world in the first unisex bathing suit (the grandmother of the #freethenipple campaign), the man-skirt is having a moment.
Rick Owens has been flirting with hemlines-for-dudes for years now, progressing from dropped crotches to full-on skirts. This recent Fashion Week, a number of designers sent man-skirts and -skorts down the runway. Owens delivered, as per usual (and boy, did he ever). Ditto Junya Watanabe. Yohji Yamamoto brought forth a denim skort, the kind Carly Simon would have worn in the ‘70s, tucked into tall leather boots. Riccardo Tisci sent his models out in skirts that were adorned with Jesus. Marc Jacobs is a fan. They’re big at Hood by Air, and, judging by Instagram, with the crowd that gathers around Fashion Week.
Has the man-skirt’s time come? It’s even spreading to sitcoms: On the new show Schitt’s Creek, one of the central characters wore dropped crotches almost exclusively. And is it any accident that one of the year’s biggest memes has been the campaign against manspreading, a.k.a. shaming men into being more demure with their leg positioning on public transportation. In a man-skirt, they would have no choice.
A model at Yohji Yamamoto. Photo: Getty Images
Menswear types are of two minds.
“The embrace of the long tee and long shirts for men has, along with the basketball short, transitioned from the catwalk into everyday street style. So why not a skirt?” says Jamie Huggins, a stylist who has worked in New York and London. “Men will embrace this transition as menswear continues to saturate the market and continue to show the women we are right behind them, if not neck-and-neck, in the fashion world.”
“I see no future in it,” says Brendan Sullivan, a suit enthusiast, Lady Gaga’s former DJ, and author of the book Rivington Was Ours. “They’re like harem pants. Might look cool in a silhouette, but the idea of getting measured and getting a bespoke skirt made seems too far out of reach to be practical.”
Historically, it’s not a terrible stretch. The Founding Fathers wore jeggings. Washington crossed the Delaware in a fierce cape that Rick Owens would love. In the ‘60s, bitter old men ranted that you couldn’t tell the boys from the girls: Tight clothes and long hair were for women. But the boys and girls figured it out, and civilization continued, with a lot more options for conditioner.
A model at Junya Wantanabe. Photo: Getty Images
I worked my way through college at a chain that sold preppy men’s and women’s clothing. Every spring, the skorts (for women only, at least purportedly) flew out the door. Comfortable and functional, customers crowed. You can fall down drunk without any cooch shots, my eminently practical female co-worker added. As someone who’s always been into menswear, I’ve had my experimental moments — I may or may not have owned a reflective-silver Spiewak jacket in the ‘90s — but I find the man-skirt uncomfortable today, too performative.
But maybe I need to drink more. Man Skirt Brewing is a traditionally macho brewery in Hackettstown, New Jersey. It was started by a guy who hates pants, but loves the comfort and practicality of Utilikilts: A rugged cotton version of the Scottish heritage item with Carhartt-style pockets for your tools.
We may be witnessing a slow rip in fashion’s space-time continuum: A trend that’s simultaneously avant and bro. Talk about fast fashion.
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