Jamie Wdziekonski from OhJamie.com
Skinny jeans on men have not had a good name. “Aren’t his jeans too tight?” seems to be the most common question on people’s lips. But what people are really saying, and what the central argument against skinny jeans on men is, “shouldn’t guys give some room to breathe ‘down there’?”.
Perhaps it comes down the reason some believe that humans are on their earth – reproduction. If we take into account the findings of a 1986 scientific study that suggested wearing tight pants or underwear could lower a man’s sperm count – it really does beg the question, why put yourselves through such pain? What possible advantages could skinny jeans give to its wearer?
But of course, fashion has never been about advantages of health, or safety. After all, what advantages do high heels bring considering they’re a proven danger? Why did women in ancient China bind their feet? Why were Victorian women wearing corsets that bruise their ribcage?
Is the simple answer to all that (and to why men wear skinny jeans) is because we’re all slaves to fashion? And believe it or not, men are just as impressionable to the latest fashion trends as women, even if they don’t admit to it.
In 2001, Hedi Slimane left Yves Saint Laurent Homme to take the reins at Dior Homme, he forever changed the shape of menswear. By slimming down silhouettes and choosing lean, lanky male models instead of traditional bulky types, Slimane not only changed men who were involved in fashion – Karl Lagerfeld famously lost 42 kgs in 2001, saying that he “wanted to dress differently, to wear clothes designed by Hedi Slimane”, and he’s kept that weight off since – but society’s perception of male body image.
Dior Homme, Autumn/Winter 2001-02 by Heidi Slimane
Jamie Wdziekonski, photographer and fashion blogger behind OhJamie.com tells us that he wears skinny jeans because it’s aesthetically pleasing.
“To be honest though I have no idea why guys started wearing skinny jeans. Straight cut or loose fit jeans make my legs look big and chunky. I guess it also in a roundabout way ties back to the whole androgynous look?”
“I definitely don’t think the skinny jean will die out anytime soon though,” he added.
But somewhere between 2001 and 2012, the skinny jean or slim trouser cut went from being a high fashion trend to being an everyday piece in men’s fashion.
“It’s interesting, because the skinny jean has become so ubiquitous for men that many shops don’t sell any other cuts anymore,” fashion writer Nadia Bailey tells us. “It’s not a style that suits my boyfriend – he favours a relaxed fit or even a bootcut – but many shops have dropped those cuts from their stock.”
“It may seem like an obvious point, but skinny jeans tend to suit skinny guys – and men who have a more muscular shape or indeed, a curvy shape (yes, men can have curves too) don’t look their best in the skinny shape.”
“Personally, I love skinny jeans on guys, but I recognise that they don’t work for everyone – my boyfriend included.”
Over the decades, men’s body shape has change that the size of male mannequins have shrunk to reflect this trend. Below are the measurements of famed British mannequin maker Rootstein, and it’s obvious how their chest and waist size have dropped dramatically in the last 50 years.
1967: 42″ chest, 33″ waist
1983: 41″ chest, 31″ waist?
1994: 38″ chest, 28″ waist
2010: 35″ chest, 27″ waist
Simply casting ourselves as vulnerable animals influenced by the awe of fashion isn’t very reassuring, but asking why men wear skinny jeans is akin to asking why women wear sky high heels – cause we simple look good in them.
Perhaps it is a trend that turned into an everyday fashion look thanks in large part to the needs of the youthful guys and creative men who wear them . Whether it’s in the name of comfort or to achieve an androgynous (or asexual) look, who’s to say its right or wrong? It’s fashion.
We would love to know what you think of men who wear skinny jeans – share your thoughts below.
By Arthur Chan with Helen Lee.