As society as a whole transitions to a fluid and dynamic post-pandemic style, a particular emphasis on body-conscious and experimental styles has entered the men’s wardrobe – and yes, that includes crop tops.
Born out of athletics and necessity, crop tops exploded in the 80s and 90s thanks to an unlikely mix of athletes, musicians and actors. Making appearances in raunchy Calvin Klein commercials and blockbuster movies, the crop top exuded a sense of confidence and mobility that was synonymous with the era. Although the garment is considered a traditionally feminine style for men, it was originally the ultimate manifestation of masculinity – with football players and track stars opting for the piece.
With changing perceptions of masculinity and aesthetics in recent years, the garment has quickly made its way out of men’s wardrobes in place of more understated styles – skinny jeans, sleeveless shirts and a feel reduced overlap. Although, like any unmistakable garment, the crop top has slowly begun to return to the popular style lexicon.
Despite a shift to covert styles in the early 2000s, there was still a subset of predominantly gay men who continued to stand out. Unaffected by gender-coded fads and style, queer men have transformed style from its distinct aesthetic origins into a symbol of expression and unbridled fluidity.
From that trust grew today’s gay popstars – Lil Nas X, Troye Sivan, Olly Alexander, to name a few – who weren’t afraid to express their style on the big stage. .
Although some still see the garment as inherently “feminine”, there has recently been a slew of stylish male celebrities looking to explore the style. As society as a whole begins to feel comfortable with the ever-changing fluidity of fashion, male celebrities, models, and celebrities are becoming more comfortable wearing crop tops.
In addition to the hug of high-profile celebrities, crop tops have been featured on runways and presentations in recent fashion weeks. Dion Lee – the sexy Aussie brand – showcased a variety of equestrian-inspired crop tops for its Fall/Winter 2021 collection. Opting for a dazzling iteration, Ludovic de Saint Sernin designed a variety of bellyless tops in keeping with the flowing sexuality of the mark.
In response to trends fueled by Gen Z, luxury houses have been receptive to androgynous cuts and silhouettes. Although many big brands have been reluctant to feature the male midriff, many have experimented with more traditionally feminine silhouettes – see Versace’s exploration of color and pattern for Spring/Summer 2021 as well as the mix of sheer and lightweight textiles by Dior Men. With dozens of high-profile figures within and near the industry sporting the crop, the garment’s relevance in the cyclical fashion world is back and here to stay.