By Bernard Dayo
There have been many gendered male-specific fashion “inventions,” from man purses to the ridiculous, male ego-protecting aesthetic of the male nail polish. Yesterday, we were introduced to a Kickstarter project called RompHim and the internet went crazy. Launched by Aced Design with four co-founders, the RompHim is a romper which presents itself as a fun, casual, wardrobe option specifically designed for men. Described by the New York Magazine as a combination of a “tailored collarless shirt with structured shorts and an adjustable waist,” the RompHim is available in blue chambray, pink chambray, and splatter-print cotton.
It’s meant to be comfortable, I suppose, permanently solving the urination problem faced by women with a built-in zip fly. Doesn’t it sound great? I’m sure it does. Men can now go out hanging with their buddies wearing male rompers and feeling the spirit of male bonding over drinks, and nothing encapsulates this as the mission statement by Aced Designs:
“Turn heads and break hearts when you take your RompHim for a spin. Is it a romper designed for men? Sure, but it’s also so much more. We spend countless hours designing the RompHim to be your favorite summer outfit. Concerts? Beach days? Rooftops? Pool parties? Leisurely strolls? Bar patios? This super-garment is designed to take them all on in style, keeping you cool as the days and nights heat up.”
The knee-jerk reaction by most men to the male romper was familiar and expected, but it made me roll my eyes. Over and over again, men have been colonised with the idea that anything that remotely looks feminine or reserved for women must be resisted, rejected, and thrown into the trash can. By society’s definition, masculinity symbolises strength and power, an ideological concept that teaches men never to show weakness or emotion.
In fashion, and although there has been a shift in our conceptualisation of what contemporary menswear should be in terms of incorporation of feminine aesthetics, there is still a collective resistance to keep masculinity intact. So it’s a bit laughable when clothes, products, or accessories gets gendered to cater to men just so they won’t feel their masculinity diminish in the process. It’s a tactic that gives men immunity from derision and flat-out ridicule while pandering to their fragile masculinities. They only have to include the prefix “male” to whatever gendered thing they are consuming or wearing and everything is fine, because adding an element of maleness makes it legitimate. The male romp may catch on this summer, and, like most menswear trends superimposed with feminine elements, I don’t expect it to last for long.