Avant-garde: could crop tops for men come back? | Fashion

There’s a scene in Richard Linklater’s new comedy, the 1980 set Everybody Wants Some!! which stands out. McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin) is hitting baseballs with an ax in order to cut them in half. It’s one of the most alpha scenes in an alpha movie, but what’s interesting is that McReynolds ax in a black mesh cropped top. In 2016, the men’s crop top is back in sight – a sartorial metaphor for the growing blurring of gender lines in the industry.

Tyler Hoechiln in Everyone Wants Some!! Go full alpha in a crop top. Photography: Everett/Rex/Shutterstock

Among women, the cropped top is very trendy from Balmain to Ivy Park, like a form of athleisure. But in the more cautious world of menswear, only a handful of boundary-pushing designers such as JWAnderson, Astrid Anderson and Nasir Mazhar presented the piece, riffing on the intersection between menswear and womenswear. It is perfectly summed up by Andersen’s description of her aesthetic as: “male attraction with female references”.

Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott in a “half shirt” crop top on the NFL Draft red carpet. Photography: Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today Sports

It’s something that came to mind when NFL player Ezekiel Elliot wore a bow-tie suit with a cropped shirt on the red carpet at the NFL Draft (sort of a Who’s Who of the next American football season). There were mundane and humorous reasons for his clothing choice: “I’m known as the half-shirt hero, so I had to step out on the red carpet in a crop top,” he said. But Elliot’s vision in a crop top was significant in how it skewed perceptions of how American football players should dress, with a Beckham-esque wave. The reaction that followed, in some quarters, was predictably severe. Maybe it’s because a bare midriff on screen creates a visual message that’s shocking to some, both hyper-masculine (look at my six-pack!) yet feminized when wrapped in a bow. short.

It’s very different from the 80s, when the male crop top was a regular feature in the pop culture landscape: Bill (Alex Winter) from Bill + Ted and Johnny Depp from Nightmare on Elm Street. As seen in Everybody Wants Some!!!, it was a casual sporty look, referencing the craze for aerobics and a general taste for the outdoors. The meaning of the crop top was changed when Prince wore it during his Under the Cherry Moon (1986) era.

Prince on the set of the Montagnes video
Prince on the set of the Mountains video in 1986. Photography: Allstar Image Library

After experimenting with lace and ruffles, he opted for a clean European aesthetic (shorter hair, big suits). Everything was decidedly more masculine except for the cropped tops he wore on the album cover and in the Mountains and Kiss videos. With the skin-tight, curved black four-button top he wore at that time, he riffed on his athletic associations but also his place between the sexes.

Could the crop top resurface in the collections in June, a harbinger of the masculine future? I’d bet my half shirt on it…