Sometimes people try really hard to write about something gay/progressive/different, and as much as they obviously mean well, they just don’t get it right.
Tricia Romano from the NY Times decided to show up to a super extra double trendy LA party and was shocked/thrilled/surprised/had feelings worthy of publishing upon seeing men wearing high heels. She was shocked to see men in traditional men’s clothing (button-up and slacks) who were also wearing high heels, so she wrote about it. Or at least, that’s how I imagine this went down. The article never declares it a trend, never speaks to any stylists or designers, but just says, “Oh hai. Some men are wearing traditional menswear with high heels.” There’s a splash of back story (men’s high heels were banned by Napoleon) and interviews with some dudes, but overwhelmingly, the focus remains on the size and cost of the shoes.
Let’s get real. As soon as the article says, “some would call it a form of drag,” (which it’s really not) the author made one thing very clear: this isn’t an article about men wearing high heels; it’s an oh-my-god article about men wearing women’s shoes. American pop culture has accepted high heels being worn by men for decades (see: glam rock, disco, David Bowie). Guys, cowboy boots are high heels. It seems like men would want to wear heels for the simple fact that they make you taller than everyone else and your ass look great.
Sean Wagner, a man interviewed pointed out, “I always make it very clear that I am a man, and I’m not trying to portray an illusion to anybody… As far as we’re concerned, this is just bringing a look to a club — which is what you are supposed to do.” At a time in fashion when men’s shoes are, well, flat and boring, should anyone really be so surprised that stylish men are turning women’s shoes? This sound like a super awesome idea to me.
So yes, I happily hope that this is a part of high fashion becoming increasingly androgynous. According to stylist June Ambrose, “Fashion should be as unisex as it is right now. It’s probably the most unisex we’ve seen it.” Suddenly it’s okay for Kanye West to wear a women’s shirt or Justin Bieber to wear girl’s jeans. So, if super-high heels are in style for women, and men wearing women’s clothing is in style, it would make sense that men wearing women’s high heels would be as well. Right? Right? Maybe.
Honestly, to my immediate sense, wearing pumps isn’t some hot new craze that’s sweeping the nation one man at a time. These interviews were done at Mr. Black, which the article failed to mention is a gay party at an expensive LA club. So, if all of the interviews are with members of the high-end LA gaybar scene, I’m left wondering if this is/is going to be a mainstream thing or not. If not, who is rocking it? While I would appreciate the coverage of a new queer trend, without more explanation the New York Times leaves me confused about whether this is an LA thing, queer thing or rich-person thing.
Instead of obsessing about how great the cost or how large the shoe size, the focus of the Times article should have been investigating who this trend appeals to and where this trend is going. Might we see a surge of men buying women’s shoes, perhaps leading to stilettos made specifically for men?
When skinny jeans were first hitting the markets for women, plenty of guys I knew were wearing women’s jeans. Why is it that shoes are seen so differently? Quite possibly this has to do with the long-term monopoly women have had on stilettos, but it’s certainly exasperated by both financial and sizing reasons. I would imagine it would be hard for men’s high heels to gain mainstream footing without, simply, more access. I would have loved an interview with a menswear designer on where he thinks men’s heels are headed. Might they be moving towards making men’s pumps? Perhaps even unisex heels? How many years do I have to wait until men are carrying their heels in their hand as they do the barefoot (unashamed) walk of shame.
Unfortunately, if men do join the mega-high heel trend, they also have this to look forward to:
Feature image via highheelsfashion.blogspot.com