Language and Style

"When the fashion industry first began to describe a style of dress that emerged in the 1990s among certain young men in places such as Washington, Los Angeles and New York, it settled on the words ‘street’ and ‘urban.’

The terms referred to a look that enthusiastically embraced athletic references, leaned to oversize silhouettes and had an undercurrent of defensive aggression. The clothes were not so much about status as tribalism. They were pricier than a Gap T-shirt or Champion sweatpants, but they were far from the realm of the rarefied.

With their choice of adjectives, fashion insiders pushed the distinctive look to the side. It was the purview of black kids, Latino teens and other young folks who commuted through their world. Though the aesthetic had been born on America’s vibrant streets and among its aspiring youth, it was not deemed “Americana.” That term was reserved for field jackets and buffalo plaid shirts.”

-Robin Givhan in the Washington Post on streetwear’s relationship to fashion.


When New York Fashion Week begins Thursday, two masculine archetypes will be engaged in a lively debate on the subject of manliness: what is beloved and what is rebuked; what is romanticized and what is demonized; what is hot and what is not.

One of these guys is beanpole skinny. He isn’t classically handsome. He might simply be an odd duck — someone with a perfectly imperfect face that is impossible to ignore. His longtime dominance of the fashion conversation is being challenged by the return of a man with muscles and swagger who exists in a cloud of intoxicating testosterone.

If these two extremes have anything in common, it is this: Both types are white. After so many years, that remains the default choice.

Robin Givhan on male models, “aesthetics,” and diversity in the Washington Post.