In celebration of this year’s Pride, we're showcasing a special series – Pride Voices – to explore the many sides of LGBTQIA+ life and queer culture today, as told by people from the community.
Jockstrap whale tails at Thom Browne, barely-there tank tops at Rick Owens, itsy-bitsy leather shorts at Prada and Egonlab – looking at the SS23 menswear shows in Paris and Milan, it doesn’t take the sharpest eye to clock that menswear these days is louder and prouder than ever; it’s here, it’s queer, and you’d better get used to it. Those that aren’t quite ready to add a Gucci butt plug pendant to their everyday accessories needn’t worry – there’s still plenty out there to appeal to more chaste tastes. But the uptick in clothing that’s historically been coded as queer bears noting.
Granted, fashion’s sexual awakening isn’t taking place in isolation. After all, it exists in a constant complex dialogue with pop culture. This visible embrace of more risque dress styles owes a lot to the flourishing of figures like Lil Nas X and Troye Sivan – both of whom shamelessly place the expression of queer desire at the heart of their public images and identities – or to Gen Z tendencies to think – and dress – less in line with inherited heteronormative structures. Worthy of celebration as this boom in queer visibility is, it’s not without its own issues. While it’s certainly a progressive step, the values that underpin how queer menswear is presented are, on closer inspection, anything but. It prompts the question: what is queer menswear at its core – and who, exactly, is it for?