Unless you’ve been living under a rock you have probably heard all about the newest fashion controversy. Yep, that’s right. Rompers. Rompers for men.
It’s safe to say people had thoughts:
How you think you look in a romphim vs. how you actually look in a romphim pic.twitter.com/Xy0NJa1Yt0
— Billion Dollar Bitch (@cindasmommy) May 16, 2017
catch me at your summer cook out in a baby blue romper/timbs combo smashing ur fragile masculinity and a plate full of hot dogs
— jaboukie (@jaboukie) May 16, 2017
The ‘RompHim’ (I know) started out as a crowdfunding venture by Chicago business students Alex, Chip, Elaine and Daniel aka ACED Design to bring men a piece of clothing that is “stylish and fun without sacrificing comfort, fit and versatility”. Their Kickstarter campaign was so immensely popular that it smashed its $10,000 goal on the first day. Guess men liked the idea of participating in a ~fashion revolution~ while “turning heads and breaking hearts”.
ACED Design has created a romper specifically for men, (don’t worry ladies, you are also welcome to purchase a RompHim if you’re after an ~athletic~ fit) but they want us to know that it is so much more than that. And, I agree, though decidedly not for the same reasons.
What’s new becomes old and what’s old becomes new again,
Firstly, RompHim is a modern take on a vintage game. Men have been rocking rompers for an eternity. Think Sean Connery’s James Bond in Goldfinger, Elvis, and literally every man in a 70’s movie! And who could forget the romper king himself, Steve Irwin?
Rompers ‘for men’ have also been seen on runways around the world before their stark introduction into western culture. Korea, Japan, Africa and Spain have all seen this trend being embraced by their fashion forward citizens
Fashion editor of Italian magazine ‘Collezioni’, Decio Vitali even coined rompers as “a new way of producing fashion for men” in 2012. New York based clothing line Engineered Garments whose style is described as minimal, non-Western cuts and shapes and ‘the most interesting clothes around’, featured rompers throughout their 2015 collection. 6TwentySeven magazine has even compiled this evolution of the male romper for our viewing pleasure.
Granted, RompHim is a more accessible and dare I say a more casual embodiment of the romper trend; and one that can be more easily merged into everyday fashion than their designer counterparts…
But, this isn’t the first time that fashion trends have resurfaced only to be incorporated into the newest fashion frontier.
I would go so far as to argue that almost every current day fashion trend has led an equally fashionable past life.
Take fish nets for example, they are back and in a big way! 2017 has seen this material worn under ripped jeans, as ankle socks and with thigh high boots to add an extra bit of ~edge~. But fish nets have a rich history of being reinvented at the forefront of fashion. From the girls of the Moulin Rouge in the 1880s and the flapper girls of the 1920s to defining the aesthetic of the 1970s punk revolution and 90s goth revival!
Analysts from ‘Vocativ’ found that while fashion isn’t an exact science there is on average a twenty-year gap between when a fashion item first appeared and its eventual resurgence.
Safe to say this does not make me confident for our fashion future. Low-rise cargo pants anyone?
Why trends come and go,
The Romp Him has become what researchers are referring to as a social epidemic, where a sizeable portion of the population is interested in or enthusiastic about a particular cultural item, for at least a short period of time.
Marketing guru Jonah Berger equates contagious products to forest fires, stating: “they can’t happen without hundreds, if not thousands, of regular Joe’s and Jane’s passing the product or message along”.
But why did thousands of people share (and fund) RompHim’s message?
As it turns out, our brains love trends and their short-lived blasts of novelty. The part of the brain linked to reward circuitry (turns out that’s a thing), is stimulated when we are presented with something new. So, when we are presented with something we haven’t experienced before, such as the RompHim, our cognitive processes like working memory, visual processing and problem solving are enhanced. Who would have thought rompers were good for the brain?
Berger, however, puts it down to social capital – the idea that we share things that make us look good so that we may further facilitate co-operation within groups that share our norms, values and understanding. It is the glue for innovation. RompHim’s viral success can also be attributed to the memorable nature of the campaign, its perceived practical value and the fact that the campaign was made public as, in his words, and I quote, “built to show, built to grow”.
Once upon a time it could have taken years for the information on the latest trends in one city to reach other parts of the world. Today fashion moves around the globe instantaneously. But thanks to globalisation and the RompHim being spreadable af we are seeing trends being adopted by the global masses quicker than ever.
You are what you wear,
The rise of the RompHim has not only offered up questions of trend resurgence but also of identity.
Fashion offers a tangible and profound way in which to communicate, create and define a social identity with clothing expressing non-verbal information regarding personality, values, age, socioeconomic status and political ideologies and historically, gender.
There is an increasing shift towards gender-neutral and ‘ungendered’ fashion with more and more people challenging the idea of gender as something that is black and white beyond Jaden Smith’s ~controversial~ shunning of gendered fashion.
While it may be a while until gendered fashion is a thing of the past the overwhelming popularity of the RompHim may just be a step in the right direction.