Men in skirts signify a paradigm shift in hip-hop culture

In a New York Times article, “ON THE STREET; Men In Skirts,” the author is shocked by a man’s public clothing choice: a skirt. Perplexed, the author wonders if this visual is a mirage or a fashion revolution.

In actuality, it was New York’s 1993 gay pride parade, a flamboyant affair where a man in a skirt might not be too out of place.

But truthfully, men have been wearing kilts since, like, the 16th century, but that was a different time, a different place, a different set of accepted cultural norms.

Nowadays, seeing a man in a skirt not only challenges certain established gender roles, but also shatters our sense of everydayness.

That might be changing.

In the modern fashion world, designers have been gradually blurring the lines between menswear and womenswear since 1985 when John Paul Gaultier sent men down the runway in sarongs and maxi skirts.

Gaultier’s pioneering play on gendered clothing paved the way for designers like Comme des Garçons, Marc Jacobs, Rick Owens, Raf Simons and Givenchy to inform their menswear collections with womenswear inspirations.

Men in skirts are becoming predominantly featured not only on the runway, but also the most overtly masculine facet of popular culture: Hip-hop.

Perhaps the most highfalutin star in hip-hop, Kanye West graced numerous 2012 showings decked out in a Givenchy leather skirt and the world took notice.

While some wondered if the unconventional look was Kim Kardashian’s doing, others saw the skirt as an inspirational affront to hip-hop’s macho mentality. But what is most interesting about Kanye’s affinity for leather skirts is how it further sparked a new kind of marriage between the fashion world and hip-hop.

Kanye’s leather skirts, designed by Ricardo Tisci of Givenchy, have introduced a new silhouette at the forefront of hip-hop style that diverges from the traditional shirts/jacket/pants silhouette. Most noticeably is Harlem-born rapper A$AP Rocky’s unrelenting penchant for this new silhouette, often wearing skirts and dress/t-shirt hybrids.

Hip-hop culture has been a rapidly altering phenomena for a while. Two decades ago, rappers only rapped about Gucci. Now they sit front row at fashion shows actually wearing Gucci.

But now, hip-hop culture is actually changing with the trend hegemony. Rappers in skirts in leather skirts is just the beginning. That being said, there is no better time for this novel feminization of menswear and hip-hop.

Like never before, musical artists are allowed to experiment with their image. It only makes sense that this modern proclivity for the offbeat would translate into the world of hip-hop.

In fashion, trends literally fade with the seasons. And as the fashion and hip-hop worlds become more and more synonymous, it is safe to say that skirts will not be a huge part of hip-hop style forever. However, a willingness to experiment with modern styles without compromising street credibility exposes a novel take on masculinity in 2013’s rap game.