When Versace sent male models down the runway last January wearing highly stylized lingerie outfits, some observers figured it was just a Milan Fashion Week stunt, and that the famed Italian brand would never bring such products to market. Well, so much for that theory.
The latest offerings in Versace’s Infinity Loop men’s underwear collection include black fishnet briefs, lace boxers and, best of all, a sheer mesh bodysuit. We’re still waiting for those patterned tulle tops, and when they arrive it’ll throw the men’s undershirt market into a tizzy.
I suppose we could grumble that Versace is simply filching the kind of eroticized stylings that Body Aware has been selling to fashion-forward guys for over 25 years, but let’s face it, this is Versace we’re talking about. And when one of the world’s biggest fashion trendsetters moves into new territory, people take notice.
And other fashion designers are paying attention too. For instance, DSquared, the young hipster fashion brand out of Canada, jumped in this year with new men’s styles in lace and tulle (below).
Is all of this just a trend, or are we looking at the first stages of a new fashion revolution?
And let’s be clear about what these runway brands are up to. These aren’t costumes or fetish gear or an attempt to enter the trashy erotic apparel market, although to say this is highly eroticized would be an understatement. It’s a deliberate attempt by some provocative brands to expand the men’s underwear market – and expand people’s attitudes about it at the same time.
For so long, there’s been a conspicuous double standard in the way the two sexes view their undies. For men, underwear has been dominated by rigid stylistic conformity and all-business functionality. For women, lingerie and underwear certainly have a functional purpose, but that’s just the beginning: women today have embraced the concept of high-quality, fashion-centric undergarments that express their individuality, their personality and their erotic selves.
Women get an enormous amount of pleasure from wearing sexy, fashionable underwear that only they (or their lucky partners) ever see. Isn’t it about time men wised up and recognized what they’ve been missing?
Of course, the move toward more fashionable undies only seems dramatic here in North America; in many European countries the men’s market has been much broader, much less conservative, and much more accepting of flashy, even feminine, styling. And in many ways, that’s what Versace and others are trying to do: export a European laissez faire sensibility that will persuade guys to lighten up about their underwear choices.
Will lacey bikini briefs and see-through mesh cup-holders ever become part of mainstream style? Will all American men finally pick up on what Body Aware customers have known for a long time, that the brightest peacock gets all the attention?
Stay tuned, this should be fun. And in the meantime, be sure to check out some of Body Aware’s newest cutting-edge styles.