For years fashion has been associated with Paris, New York, Milan, and women walking down the catwalk in designer couture dresses. However, the fashion machine has changed over time and it now includes the male image. Today, men are seen as fashion plates just like their female counterparts and sneakers are an important part of a man’s wardrobe.
You may recall the popular term metrosexual which was coined in 1994. Metrosexual references a man (especially one living in an urban, post-industrial, capitalist culture) who is especially meticulous about his grooming and appearance (Wikipedia). It’s usually a straight man who I believe has successfully embraced his masculinity and expresses it with his sense of fashion and style. Since the birth of the metrosexual, men are generally much more fashion-conscious and concerned with their appearance.
In New York City the metrosexual has mastered coordinating colors and has successfully achieved the fashion craze, color-blocking. However, there are still a handful of men in the world who are still struggling with the term fashion and have no clue what style means.
Nevertheless, fashion is about self-expression and I believe I have a simple answer for the man with no clue. Building your fashion wardrobe with a cool pair of colorful sneakers can spruce up any dull outfit. It’s similar to what women do, high-low. The high-low concept is easy, it’s a strategy to pair your high-end designer items with less expensive items.
When I think about high-low for women the first thing that comes to mind is footwear. Women are relentless when it comes to their shoes and no matter the cost, if they like them, they purchase them. The modern-day male can relate to a woman’s shoe fetish because a man’s footwear not only builds a wardrobe but can define the character of the man.
“Sneakers go back a long way. In the late 18th century, people wore rubber-soled shoes called plimsolls, but they were pretty crude—for one thing, there was no right foot or left foot. Around 1892, the U.S. Rubber Company came up with more comfortable rubber sneakers with canvas tops, called Keds. By 1917, these sneakers began to be mass produced. (They got the nickname sneakers because they were so quiet, a person wearing them could sneak up on someone.)” (FactMonster.com)
From the introduction of Chuck Taylor All-Stars in 1923 to kids wearing sneakers as fashion statements in the 1950s to Michael Jordan’s agreement with Nike in 1984, sneakers have really taken their place as fashionable pieces to show one’s sense of style. From flashy to your basic casual sneaker, how a man styles his sneakers says a lot about him and his sense of style. A stylish pair of sneakers worn with fashion-forward jeans and a t-shirt along with a cool blazer or statement jacket will propel a man who was once throwing foul balls in terms of fashion to instantly move from the sidelines to Page 6 of the New York Post.
Even gay men struggle with finding their signature styles. Our options are endless. There are endless racks of fashions that either work for us or against us. “Style” is a state of mind and can either empower or destroy us among our peers. Working through all the available options is tough but can be accomplished.
Giorgio Armani always thought of the t-shirt as the Alpha and Omega of the fashion alphabet but I beg to differ. A man’s choice of footwear is a power play; a fashionable statement that no other fabric or garment can duplicate. Men are complex characters but it’s the type of shoe they select and their attention to detail that embodies the essence of a man.
A man with the right pair of sneakers (shoes) is often viewed as a risk-taker; a man unafraid of failing in terms of fashion. And a fashionable man is ahead of the game.
I believe building an outfit around a pair of sneakers (footwear) is the easiest and simplest way for a man to become a style and fashion icon.