As society as a whole shifts to a fluid and vibrant post-pandemic style, a distinct focus on body conscious and experimental styles have worked itself into the male wardrobe — and yes, that includes crop tops.
Stemming from athleticism and necessity, crop tops boomed during the ‘80s and ‘90s through an unlikely set of athletes, musicians, and actors. Making appearances in steamy Calvin Klein advertisements and blockbuster movies, the crop top exuded a sense of confidence and mobility that was synonymous with the era. Although the garment is considered as a traditionally feminine style for men to sport, it was originally the ultimate display of masculinity — with football players and track stars opting for the piece.
With perceptions of masculinity and aesthetics shifting over the past years, the garment quickly made its way out of men’s wardrobes in place of more subdued styles — skinny jeans, sleeveless shirts, and a sense of diminished layering. Though like every unmistakable garment, the crop top has slowly begun to work its way back into the popular style lexicon.
Despite a shift to covered-up styles in the early 2000s, there was still a subset of mainly queer men who continued to dawn the midriff-baring top. Unfazed by gender-coded fashions and style, queer men transformed the style from its distinct aesthetic origins to a symbol of expression and unbridled fluidity.
Born out of that confidence was today’s gay popstars — Lil Nas X, Troye Sivan, Olly Alexander, to name a few — who have been unafraid to express their style on the big stage.
Though some still view the garment as inherently “feminine,” there has been a recent set of stylish male celebrities looking to explore the style. With society as a whole beginning to feel comfortable with the ever-changing fluidity of fashion, male celebrities, models, and figures have been increasingly comfortable wearing crop tops.
Along with an embrace from high-profile celebrities, crop tops have been featured across runways and presentations during the most recent fashion weeks. Dion Lee — the sexy Australian brand — featured a variety of equestrian-inspired crop tops for their Fall/Winter 2021 collection. Opting for a bedazzled iteration, Ludovic de Saint Sernin crafted a variety of midriff-free tops in keeping with the sexual fluidity of the brand.
In a response to Gen Z fueled trends, luxury houses have been receptive to androgynous tailoring and silhouettes. Though many major brands have been hesitant to showcase the male midriff, many have been experimenting with more traditionally feminine silhouettes — see Versace’s exploration of color and pattern for Spring/Summer 2021 as well as Dior Men‘s mix of sheer and lightweight textiles. With dozens of high-profile figures within and adjacent to the industry sporting the crop, the garment’s relevance in the cyclical fashion world is back and here to stay.END
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