Skirts in menswear? Amsterdam trade fair makes a case in support

March 22, 2019 0 By HearthstoneYarns

Despite numerous efforts to introduce the skirt as a wardrobe
staple for men in the Western hemisphere, it has seldom left the catwalks
since the 20th century. The summer edition of Amsterdam fashion trade fair
Modefabriek provided the garment a stage in one of its curated areas. Could
this be a sign that the garment will manage to liberate itself from its
current niche market?

Large black and white banners featuring
skirted men were hung over the fairground to endorse the garment. Promotion
of the skirt could not come at a more opportune time, as gender boundaries
presently soften .
Amidst booths displaying menswear that will be found in fashion retail
stores next season, it reads “Dress a like a man, wear a skirt” on the
walls behind the labels that blur the lines between what’s considered
masculine and feminine apparel.

“For a lot of men wearing a skirt is way out of their comfort
zone. It’s very feminine for them”, Amsterdam-based designer, Spike
Spijker, said at Modefabriek. “I hope to contribute a bit to the acceptance
of the men skirt again.”

Spijker, a bearded man wearing a black
skirt, himself, paired with white converse sneakers, has been curating the
themes of the menswear section at Modefabriek for several seasons. After
featuring suits and trench coats in the past, he decided it’s time to start
a discussion about men skirts and recruited other brands and companies to
join the cause. Spijker also included a skirt in the uniforms of the
Modefabriek staff designed to boost the prominence of the theme. The A-line
skirt can be worn by both genders and was made from canvas cotton, a
workwear fabric, in a shape suitable and comfortable for men.

Beyond gender clichés

As the fashion retail landscape changes
with the new technology on the horizon, trade fairs are also forced to
rethink their business model. For the past few editions, Modefabriek has
sought to show “more than fashion”, developing into an inspiring venue
appealing to all fashion professionals, beyond strictly a business meeting
for buyers and brands. The fairground aims to offer inspiration beyond the
business for next season, hence triggering a discussion about men
skirts.

During a time when traditional gender roles are questioned
and mainstream retailers like Asos and H&M come to embrace unisex
collections, Spijker thinks that the discourse about gender neutrality
could also help the skirt leave its current niche in menswear. “My opinion
is that men should be able to wear what they like”, he said.

Dutch
menswear designer Sophie Roumans defies Western clichés of masculinity in
her designs on the fairground. The black, skirt-like piece from her 2017
collection presented at Amsterdam Fashion Week was inspired by the Boubou,
a traditional garment worn in various parts of Africa.

Dress like a
Man, wear a skirt

No conversation about skirts in menswear is
complete without mentioning the Scottish kilt. Even though Sybren Vis, the
owner of House of Carynette that shows in the curated section, insists that the kilt isn’t strictly a skirt.
A kilt is an officially recognized male garment in the European Union, a
skirt can be worn by women and men, he explained. As opposed to a skirt, a
kilt is a male dress that follows traditional procedures and derives from a
so-called great kilt or “Feileadh Mòr“ in Gaelic.

Watch the
video to learn more from Sybren about how a traditional great kilt was
worn.

Following their passion for playing bagpipe, Sybren and his partner
Annette Plantinga, began selling Highland outfits and accessories in their
shop in Leeuwarden, in the north of the Netherlands in 2001. She is also
training to be the first certified kilt maker in Europe outside of
Scotland.

“For
me, the skirt has been an ideology for some years because I see more men in
the world wearing a skirt than trousers. Only in the Western world, in
Europe and the U.S., do men wear only pants“, Gerold Brenner, clad in a red
checked shirt and dark blue denim skirt, from Zurich, Switzerland said. An
Instagram personality with more than 15,000 followers, Brenner worked as a
designer for German and Swiss fashion companies before starting his own
label, to focus on making a more sustainable fashion industry. His pieces
include denim skirts from recycled fabrics and shirts hold together by the
sashiko technique, a traditional Japanese craft to mend clothes.

French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier famously advocated men skirts on
catwalks over 35 years ago. Today’s acceptance for the skirt in menswear
may also come from the contact with other cultures, where it’s common among
men, said Brenner: “We live in a multicultural world with people familiar
with the traditions of wearing skirts. This is new and therefore I see a
chance, people are more open-minded now.“

Another ambassador for
the men’s skirt on the floor, could be found in Davide Giannuzzi, the
designer behind Mr. Kirt from Milan, Italy. His label only sells
skirts for men made with mostly natural fabrics, each piece is individually
stitched after it has been ordered.

In
the end, it may also be more about the design than the idea of wearing a
skirt, said Spijker. He is thinking about including his men skirt design
for Modefabriek into the collection of his label Jouez Les Enfants, which
works with vintage and deadstock items. He received many inquiries to buy
his skirts and the staff who wore a skirt as part of their Modefabriek
uniform loved to wear the airy garment on a hot summer’s day. “There is
also a need,” he said. “There are a lot of men who would want to wear a
skirt but cannot find the right one. For me, it was also a good experience
to design a skirt.”

This story story was written with the
assistance of Caitlyn Terra; video editing: Joanna Mania.

Read more:

  • Photos: FashionUnited