Peacocks on Parade
Samuel Mulia, WEEKENDER | Fri, 01/06/2012 2:16 PM |
A fashion designer, tall but with a slight paunch, confesses his difficulties in finding a suit that fits.
“Everything today is so tight fitting, very feminine – just right for you,” he tells me.
He is absolutely right, on all counts. Legendary suit-makers, those who once religiously held to their classic cuts, are having to go with these times that are making men appear more like women. This is why one boutique in a Jakarta mall is offering a made-to-order service for men with bellies, men who cannot run to save their lives but who want to keep up with changing fashions, even as fashion has passed them by.
Why has the taut-and-tight trend taken over? From my observations, young men frequenting malls, clubs and restaurants (not to mention music stars) have taken to wearing super-tight, slim-fitting pants and shirts that accentuate their thinness.
I am as confused about the change as I am about the prerogative of young people today to comment on the opinions of their elders. I have to ask myself if the food they are eating is different from my diet when I was growing up.
The Korean “wave” of boybands may have something to do with it. It has certainly led to the rise of similar local bands, made up of boys who are pretty, even beautiful – very different from the coarse, bad-boy types we used to see on the stage.
I hear a little voice somewhere screaming: “They must be gay!” It’s a widespread assumption acknowledged by a manager of SMASH, one of the first in this country. I too once thought the same – that a penchant for being pretty meant a man was gay – until a recent visit to Seoul.
All around me were young men who were dead ringers for boyband members. They were finely turned out and easy on the eye, but there was nothing effeminate about them. I heard that Korean men have their own eight-step ritual for facial care, outside of the cosmetic surgery intervention that has made the country famous. I asked a 33-year-old professional, married without children, whether he followed the routine.
He roared laughing, but eventually he admitted to taking care of his complexion, even though it did not extend to eight steps. Korea seems to be a newcomer to male grooming compared with Japan, where the cleaning of nails is a priority and men have their eyebrows plucked. If that trend catches on here in Indonesia, singer Krisdayanti will have a whole new group of lookalikes.
Men are slimmer, their clothes are more form-fitting, they are particular about cosmetics and their accessories could be borrowed by their girlfriends or sisters. Men now carry tote bags originally designed for women without raising eyebrows (OK, maybe one or two).
Not everybody may agree with this “feminization” of men. For me, the most important part of this change is not about men trying to get in touch with their feminine sides, but rather how it is teaching me to adhere to the old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover”. And it’s not our right to judge, bringing down our imaginary gavel on the choices of others and attempting to deem if men are sufficiently masculine.
Without those judgments, you will be able to study why trends in ties have changed over time and why the trend today is for slim-cut pants over flared ones. You will be able to match three or four colors in one look, feel free to wear shocking red pants and a blue checked shirt, without fear of hearing the term “flamboyant” trailing behind you.
can only happen when you and I let others decide what is right for
them. For grouping everybody together blinds us to the beauty of the
world, in all its diversity.