Smile and find out: the unexpected rise of crotchless pants | Fashion

Not content with exposing our diaphragms Y chests this season, fashion has found a whole new area to expose: the bottom of the train.

Step into this summer’s funniest trend: chaps, those crotchless overpants once exclusive to working cowboys and, of course, actors playing cowboy.

Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner set the cultural benchmark for chaps in the 1960 western The Magnificent Seven: nothing like a pair of rugged suede chaps to add that potent swagger.

After all, if you want to symbolize the tough exterior of a cowboy, costume designers turn to the boys: Also see Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays aggressive alpha-male rancher Phil Burbank in Jane Campion’s Oscar-winning film The Power of the Cowboy. dog.

Take off your underwear, though, as high fashion has done in recent weeks, and the vibe is much more Village People.

This week, the American designer Thomas Browne sparked gasps and laughs at Paris fashion week when he closed his menswear show with a raunchy cowboy character dressed in beautifully tailored but fabulously risque tweed chaps with a matching jockstrap, cowboy hat and boots .

A model walks the runway during the Thom Browne Spring/Summer 2023 Ready to Wear show in Paris.
A model walks the runway during the Thom Browne Spring/Summer 2023 Ready to Wear show in Paris. Photograph: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Meanwhile, the Parisian menswear brand White House sent models in ranch-style chaps that exposed their bikini lines and buttocks. And a couple of weeks ago, the American rapper Megan Thee Stallion She broke the internet by showing off her bum in chaps-style jeans while modeling Mugler’s latest collection.

What could explain the sudden arrival of “assless” guys, as they’re called in America? In part, says Lorna Hall of trend-spotting agency WGSN, “it’s about the Western revival of 2000s fashion and style.” Chaps are a useful development if you feel like you’re not communicating your rodeo vibes with just double denim, suede fringe, and cowboy boots.

But of course it is more than that. It’s about sexuality and our new possession of it, says Patricia Maeda of trend forecasting agency Fashion Snoops. “That aligns with the post-pandemic emotional shift where women want to celebrate life and their bodies.” Men too, hopefully.

Twerking, and its glorification of the humble butt, has played its part in normalizing the exposure of the nether region. Chaps have proven to be a fashion favorite for twerkers including, doja cat Y Lizzo – since they offer an uninterrupted and delicious view.

Doja Cat performing in Indianapolis in January.
Doja Cat performing in Indianapolis in January. Photograph: Michael Hickey/Getty Images

So does fashion really expect the rest of us to wear chaps, or just have fun when celebrities do? (Choose your choice, from Cristina Aguilera repeating his love for the boys at LA Pride earlier this month for BeyonceThe denim cropped version of Ivy Park.)

Certainly, Thom Browne is interested in “whoever wants to use them, use them and have fun doing it”. And while they’re not exactly rolling out of stores, interest is up: Depop reports a 10% increase in searches for chaps between May and June. They are mostly worn by civilians at festivals, where the usual rules of sartorial decorum don’t apply, if you can pull it off. nakednessyou can take out a bare swag (Etsy even has a “festival boys” section).

“It’s about post-pandemic hedonism and the strong need to party,” says Hall. However, if you’re wondering why anyone would want to wear butt pants to a party, the connection, adds Hall, is the party element of Pride and the LGBTQ community. “There’s a subversive, sexy element to chaps, but it’s light and fun.” If proof is needed, watch Ru-Paul’s Drag Race and his “boys on the catwalk” category.

Think again, though, if you think this trend is one that will sit quietly. Trend hunters predict it’s going to take over: “All of these things influence how we push the edges of what seems reasonable to wear,” says Hall. “Look at Rihanna and what happened to the maternity clothes.”

While it’s best to leave the butt-baring version for festive attire, adds Maeda: “We’ve seen new interpretations of the item taking shape, particularly in denim, that are much more wearable and de-fetishized.”

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