Letting it all hang out
ARMY OF ME (The Philippine Star) - May 3, 2014 - 12:00am

When Kid Cudi emerged on stage at the Coachella music festival last month, it supplied the Internet with something new to reblog. More than his music, it was his attire that had quite a few people talking. The rapper performed in a red athletic crop top, a gold bolo tie, and cutoff jean shorts that exposed the waistband of his briefs. Whether the 30-year-old recording artist from Cleveland sported a throwback look or channeled a runway trend, his shrunken shirt angered some and puzzled many. This belly-baring look has been a leitmotif at London Collections: Men for the past two spring-summer seasons. No fewer than three designers — Sibling, J.W. Anderson and Astrid Andersen — have sent male models down the catwalk in their own renditions of tummy-exposing tees. Four years ago in Milan, Italo Zucchelli presented hacked-off outerwear and boxy, cropped T-shirts stamped with the brand’s logo for the Calvin Klein spring 2011 show. â€œCutoff tops seemed intended to suggest a gridiron player’s workout wear but instead called to mind the Hulk’s castoffs,” according to Style.com’s Tim Blanks. Frankie Morello, designed by Maurizio Modica and Pier Fracesco Giliotti, meanwhile, paraded similar versions of these abs-flashing tees; one was a nod to the prototypes worn by Wham!’s Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael in 1985.


While this questionable piece of clothing was on hiatus for nearly a decade until Kid Cudi resurrected it at Coachella, the male crop top has deep roots in pop culture. It was seen in the ‘80s on Johnny Depp in A Nightmare on Elm Street, on former Olympian (and Kardashian patriarch) Bruce Jenner, and even Will Smith as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the early ‘90s. The Los Angeles Times in 2010 even trained the spotlight on an accidental type of crop top worn by China’s bang ye (“exposing grandfathers” in Mandarin). Deemed uncouth, these gentlemen of a variety of ages, social standing, and — unfortunately — stomach sizes pull up their shirts to stay cool in the summertime. “In the hottest weather, bang ye seem to be everywhere, striding among the tall buildings in Beijing’s business district, playing chess in parks,” noted the paper. “There are precious few washboard abs among the lot. Still, many fail to notice that they’re drawing smirks from fashion-conscious passersby. Most just don’t care.”If the midriff-baring top can become a fashion staple for women, updated by labels such as Prada and Proenza Schouler and championed by the likes of Rihanna and Miley Cyrus, can its male counterpart become just as popular? After all, we’ve witnessed once-outlandish offerings turn into everyday items, from murses and mandals to skinny jeans and short shorts. But can guys pull it off? More importantly, should they even attempt to do so?


Unless you are ripped and have .0005 percent body fat, you are better off skipping this trend. Even if you are male modelesque, your bellybutton, nipples and v-lines would leave little to the imagination. Gentlemen with moobs and beer bellies should not even think about it, except if they are intentionally cosplaying Winnie the Pooh. Then again, perhaps the only way to approach this bandwagon is with a healthy dose of humor. Checking the hash tag #boysincroptops2k14 on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr reveals a spectrum of results, not to mention a world of body hangups.That said, I doubt that men will start showing off their paunches publicly in a tiny crop top in the same way that I have reservations about powdered wigs returning to favor. Could bellybutton piercings for men be next?

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