Who decides which clothing items are reserved for women, and which are reserved for men? Throughout history and geography, the answers change almost constantly. Take the pants debate, for instance: in the mid-19th century in the US, a widespread feminist movement slowly but successfully normalized pants for women. Around the same time in Scotland, a romantic revival of Gaelic and Highland culture brought back the men’s kilt.
In 2021, the question of masculine versus feminine clothing is once again worth asking, and this time, it’s about crop tops.
Interestingly enough, the crop top hasn’t been a garment reserved exclusively for women for very long — rewind to the 1980s and ‘90s and you’ll find more than a few Hollywood heartthrobs sporting a crop top. Look to Will Smith in the popular sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Johnny Depp in the horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Marky Mark (Wahlberg) in his iconic Calvin Klein campaign with Kate Moss. The male crop top was once an embodiment of youthful confidence and male athleticism — an article by The Guardian even labels the male crop top as a symbol of “all-American jockism.”
Bringing back men in crop tops
Today, men’s crop tops are coming back, albeit with a different connotation. When worn by men, the crop top now symbolizes a rejection of “toxic masculinity” and gender norms, and even an embrace of body positivity. So the trend forecast is in: this Spring and Summer, the many variations of the garment, along with the different designers creating it, will be cropping up in Europe and the US.
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Crop tops, Spring 2022’s next menswear trend
Brands like Telfar, Eckhaus Latta, and Barragán who specialize in genderless fashion have been partially responsible for establishing the male crop top trend, creating garments to be worn by any gender. We’re also seeing menswear brands like Ludovic de Saint Sernin and Lazoschmidl who design from a perspective of soft masculinity creating this garment. Additionally, crop tops are commonly styled with wide-legged pants and street style accessories like the bucket hat or chunky sneakers.
Indeed, the men’s crop top can be designed and worn in many ways depending on the designer and the consumer. For instance, one stand-out fabric was featured in the collections of Eckhaus Latta and Camiel Fortgens: ribbed knit.
Among US audiences, ribbed knit is forecasted to rise in visibility by +6% in Spring 2022 compared to last year. And Europe, the fabric will rise by +11%.
If a brand caters to both markets, they should indeed note such differences in order to adjust trend assortment. If a brand caters to one of the two, they should note the corresponding data to best satisfy their customers. Ultimately, for brands with a male audience that leans toward edgy trends, it’s worth considering crop tops’ Spring trend forecast in Europe and the US. Who decides which gender can wear what? Consumers do.