For most of fashion history, fashion has been seen as feminine and an interest for women and was for some point dismissed as unserious and inferior. Yet both femininity and masculinity are still defined and valued through appearance. Clear gender characteristics and strong opposing definitions of the sexes should belong in the past. The lines of segregation is blurrier than ever. Yet the discussion about how far men and women can push the freedom of self expression is still controversial. So where does the definition of ‘femininity’ and ‘masculinity’ even begin or end? With these perspectives in mind, this case explores further into why there is a demand for modern masculinity and how the company will turn it into a reality through sustainable practices.
Over the years, there has been a typical perception of men dressing in restrained, gender appropriate clothing styles is seen as masculine while upholding traditional male values. For instance, they could only wear between a variation of charcoal, navy and sage suits and athletic gear. However, in today, majority of men do not wear much of tailored clothing outside of those professional situations that demand it. According to a research project called ‘Refashioning Masculinity’ that was conducted in 2017, between the ages of 22 and 78, only a small amount chose navy suit and white shirt for work, while the rest preferred more colourful choices that represent their identity (Dr B. Barry, 2017). Even though work codes are still quite traditional, the demand for modern menswear outside of work is evidently high. In the past, clothing also allows men to showcase how their bodies align with the stereotypical traits of masculine like being seen tall and toned with a perfect physique. This tend to cause men to often revaluate their own clothing decisions to keep within the masculine norms and engage in unhealthy and unnecessary diets and surgical practices (Dr B. Barry, 2017). Even though there has been a shift in this way of thinking, it is still not enough. That is why fashion is the vital tool to disrupt the boundaries of masculinity and transform into something new and show that it is okay to be more feminine.
In order for menswear to evolve and move away from the mainstream perception of male identity, the creative industries are exploring different ways to portray the complexities of manhood and emphasise the softer, more sensitive and vulnerable qualities of modern masculinity. The Book of Man is an online support network that consists an extensive team of writers and experts who offers advice and inspiration to modern men (Martin, 2019). They conducted a study on masculinity called ‘Men Are On The Edge’ which revealed that 69% of men aged 25–44 in the UK feel misrepresented by brands, stating that the usual look on masculinity are no longer relevant with contemporary life (The Book of Man, Altheo, n.d). The results also showed that 52% of men feel they need to comply to stereotypes, yet 65% believe stereotypes are dangerous to society (The Book of Man, Altheo, n.d). This proves that stereotypical traits of masculinity such as strength and physical performance are out of touch with consumers and there is a cultural movement calling for these values to change.