FASHION – Summer will be short, very short. And it’s not the fashion industry that will say the opposite. According to the latest parades, organized in Paris and in other fashion capitals on the occasion of Fashion Weeks this month of June, a trend has apparently imposed itself in the male wardrobe. It’s the mini shorts.
Yes, the tiny little shorts. One that goes well above the knee. At Thom Browne, it is faithful to the tailoring of its American designer: fitted, blue, gray or black. On the side of Marine Serre, it is covered with psychedelic patterns and split on the sides. In Milan, Prada dedicated a large part of its Spring-Summer 2023 collection to it, sometimes dressing it in leather and with a double zip closure, as above.
Loewe, Hermès, Dior (with whom it is worn on a cyclist)… The list is long and is likely to grow longer. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some soon at Diesel and Balmain. It’s in tune with the times,” says image consultant Louise Parent. According to her, it is to Miu Miu and her artistic director, the innovative Miuccia Prada, that we owe these few centimeters less fabric.
The label, responsible for the huge buzz around a low-waisted schoolgirl micro-skirt last year, unveiled its white shorty, in March 2022. “It was brilliant. It gets people talking and it says a lot about current trends. It’s very Instagrammable”, notes our expert.
So yes, on the side of consumer ready-to-wear brands, such as H&M, Zara or Mango, we are not there yet, the luxury industry sometimes being a bit more exuberant and daring. It is clear, however, that some models come close.
“It goes back more and more”, observes Louise Parent. The shortening of the shorts is progressive. What to accustom the eye little by little, according to her. An observation shared by Alice Desideri, stylist at Pecler’s Paris, for whom the phenomenon is also seen in swimming trunks.
Some men contribute to its growth. This is the case of the American rapper Lil Nas X, followed by more than 12 million subscribers on Instagram, who wears it from time to time. Same story for Harry Styles and his model in faded jeans, or the actor Milo Ventimiglia, seen near a parking lot in the summer of 2021 in what could be confused with simple elastic boxer shorts.
John Travolta’s mini-shorts
These three men did not invent anything. Tom Selleck, Elton John or John Travolta (in the film Perfect) already wore mini-shorts several decades ago. As for the drawings of Tom of Finland, a famous artist whose characters with muscular and erotic bodies have considerably influenced gay culture, it was from the beginning of the 1970s.
“Shorts like that, men from all walks of life have always worn them,” says Alice Desideri. She cites pell-mell the military of the time, men on roller skates along Venice Beach, California, or even George Michael.
The comeback of mini-shorts in 2022 is not trivial, it is part of a broader context of men’s clothing decomplexion. Like the open shirt of many models on the catwalk, “there is this idea of showing the body”, continues the Pecler’s forecaster. And showing your body, when you are a man, would no longer be morally “prohibited”.
For Louise Parent, “it’s no longer fashion that dictates trends, but current mentalities, especially those of the younger generations”, more fluid in their expression of gender and masculinity. The shorts are getting shorter, they show more of the legs (and therefore the skin). Like the crop top or the harness, a sulphurous accessory closely linked to SM culture brought up to date, the mini-shorts play with the limits. It translates more intimacy, thereby sexualizing the male body.
However, as this article from the Guardian, it is also the expression of a well exacerbated virility. The British daily explains that gyms have noticed a growing interest from their customers for physical training aimed at strengthening the lower body, buttocks and legs.
Would mini-shorts be the ideal object to make your bodybuilder body shine, a symbol of masculinity? For this same journalist from Guardian, it reveals in any case all the ambiguity of the so-called “uninhibited” clothing of men. They allow themselves to be sexy, if and only if the garment in question bares a part of the body essential to its motor skills. The legs allow us to move forward. They keep us from falling. It is even better if they are worked and well shaped.
“There is always a trend and its opposite, Alice Desideri reminds us in turn. On the one hand, the body-positive movement tells us that you have to love your body. On the other, we continue to advocate perfect bodies.” However, the weight of beauty standards often outweighs self-acceptance.
What the stylist raises is not far removed from the considerations of essayist Alice Pfeiffer about the revival of the crop top among men, which, according to her, bears witness to “a new post-industrial and post-capitalist era, in which the man who has worked well, no longer even needs to play sports”. Like the little t-shirt cut under the torso, the mini-shorts leave you wondering. But it is clear that, faced with the avalanche of heat waves that the future has in store for us, it could prove to be very useful.
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