The Genteel
July 8, 2020


J.W. Anderson Menswear S/S 2013. Source:
 Marc Jacobs skirt
Marc Jacobs, in one of his famous skirts.

Masculine and feminine trends have been merging since the 1960s, with designers regularly challenging how we see masculinity and femininity - most recently with ex-Olympian Casey Legler, the first female to be signed exclusively as a male model.

But with the recent surge of menswear houses, including Comme des Garçons, J. W. Anderson, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy and Rick Owens, sending their male models down the runway in skirts, can we expect to see this style on the high street anytime soon?

Men and women have been wearing skirts since the dawn of civilization, a perfectly acceptable and practical form of clothing in many countries. The Scottish kilt and the Indian lungi are accompanied by a long cultural history and, likewise, the maxi and mini skirt, have one too.

From the petticoats of the Victorians, to the office pencil skirt, each style comes with its own social history. Long, luxurious skirts of past centuries symbolised the wealth and status of the wearer. Conversely, tight, short skirts evoked confidence and power in the '80s. In the western world, the skirt has been feminized - it was even slang for a woman in the 1800s.  A skirt shows off a woman's waist, her legs - her shoes - and accentuates her figure. So, where does it fit into the modern man's wardrobe?

Marc Jacobs claims the skirt is "comfortable" and makes him "happy." Kayne West wore a Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci leather kilt (skirt) on numerous occasions since its first appearance on his Watch the Throne tour with Jay Z in 2011. But celebrities and everyday people alike have faced backlash for supporting the trend.

[Men's skirts aren't] for the faint-hearted, but the runway is meant to be fashion forward - and often challenging.

In Russia, 44-year-old scholarship student Vladimir Fromin was expelled for refusing to wear trousers to class. Jon-Jon Goulian, author of The Man in the Gray Flannel Skirt, has worn women's clothing since the age of 16 and has been ridiculed all his life for not, "keeping with what one expects of a real man." Even West has faced jibes from fellow rappers Chris Brown and Lord Jamar. While they might not be the epitome of good taste, their opinion seems to represent the masses. And, according to The Sun, Kanye has now asked Getty Images to remove any photos of him wearing the garment.

It isn't a style for the faint-hearted, but the runway is meant to be fashion forward - and often challenging. Since 2008, the skirt has made a significant appearance in menswear collections. At the most recent fashion weeks, the trend has continued to challenge preconceptions. J. W. Anderson's A/W 2013 collection at London Fashion Week caused a stir, with male models stepping out in scalloped mini skirts, strapless tops and knee high boots. The move was even more daring than his S/S 2013 collection, which saw flower-print mesh tops and trousers, and models carrying clutch bags.

Comme des Garçons have continued to challenge social convention with their F/W 2013 collection; made up of brightly coloured jackets, tunic style dresses and long shirts over cropped trousers - not to mention wigs. Givenchy's S/S 2012 collection saw tropical prints and matching skirts, and their latest S/S collection, although somewhat more muted, continues the trend with the skirt-over-trouser look.

Rick Owens' "Smock Dress."

So, how does the trend filter down to us mere mortals? When H&M announced its intention to sell the "man-skirt" from spring 2010, it never appeared in their stores - perhaps it was a step too far for the common man. Even among designers, many of the "skirts" that appeared on the runway during this year's fashion weeks were a layer, or drape of fabric, between the all-too-typical top and trouser.

The skirt-over-trouser concept seems to be a safe conceptual ground, like Givenchy's so-called "introductory skirt" or Rick Owens' S/S 2013 collection -  athough his "smock dress" could be considered a little more daring.  Other designers such as Juyoung's RESURRECTIONFear of God LA and RAD by Rad Hourani also offer more wearable versions of the "man-skirt".

The concept might be refreshing to some; after all, when it comes to fashion, men have been stuck with the same silhouette for a long time. With the sheer number of menswear designers trotting out skirts on the men's runway, is social change on the horizon?

While these may be baby-steps in the grand scheme of things, designers will continue to push the social boundaries, and, with any luck, so will our high street stores. The trend's success would mean more than a change in the male wardrobe - it would be a break in the social stereotype. We no longer consider the trouser as an exclusively male garment, so why not the same for the skirt.



Sign up to receive a weekly dispatch from The Genteel.

About Us

The Genteel unearths the forces shaping global fashion and design through the lens of business, culture, society and best kept secrets. 

More about us

Our Contributors

A worldwide collective of contributors currently form The Genteel. On a daily basis our team dispatches thought-provoking and insightful articles from the streets of Oslo, Toronto, Beirut, Moscow, United Arab Emirates, Seoul and beyond.