SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEWSLETTER

Browse all

The return of the crop top in male's fashion

From athleisure item in the 80s gyms to genderless fashion symbol in the latest fashion shows

The return of the crop top in male's fashion From athleisure item in the 80s gyms to genderless fashion symbol in the latest fashion shows
Mick Jagger by Ebet Roberts
David Bowie in crop top Image from Pinterest
Christopher Atkins in 1982 Image fron Pinterest
Christopher Meloni for Interview Magazine @popfaction
Christopher Meloni for Interview Magazine @popfaction
Christopher Meloni for Interview Magazine @popfaction
Christopher Meloni for Interview Magazine @popfaction
Football player Image from Pinterest
Apollo Creed in Rocky III Image from Pinterest
Johnny Depp in Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984 Image from Pinterest
Johnny Depp in Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984 Image from Pinterest
Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Image from Pinterest
Bruce Jenner in the 80s Image from Pinterest
The Beatles Mad Day Out, 1968 Image fron Pinterest
Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode in the 80s Image fron Pinterest
Damiano David from Maneskin @ykaar
Damiano David from Maneskin @ykaar
Maison Margiela SS19 Image from Vogue
Gucci SS16 Image from Vogue
Comme des Garçons Homme Plus FW17 Image from Pinterest
Justin Bieber Image from Pinterest
Astrid Andersen SS18 Image from Vogue
JW Anderson SS14 Image from Vogue
Xander Zhou SS18 Image from Vogue
Bobby Abley SS16 Image from Pinterest
Fendi SS22 Image from Vogue
Telfar FW19 Image from Vogue
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, 1989 Image fron Pinterest
Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker, 1981 Image fron Pinterest
Troye Sivan Image fron Pinterest
Mugler FW11 Image from Pinterest
Noen Eubanks for Celine Image from Pinterest
Jaden Smith wearing a crop top Image from Pinterest
Dion Lee FW21 Image from Vogue
Romeo Beckham for Vogue @romeobeckham
Ludovic De Saint Sernin FW21 @ludovicdesaintsernin
Ludovic De Saint Sernin FW21 @ludovicdesaintsernin
Celine FW20 Image from Vogue
Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting, 1995 Image from Pinterest
Damiano David from Maneskin @ykaar
Jacob Elordi for CK @jacobelordi
Harry Styles in Watermelon Sugar's video Image from Pinterest
The Ramones in 1976 Image from Pinterest
Kurt Cobain & Courtney Love for Spin magazine, 1992 Image from Pinterest
Dennis Rodman in 1995 Image from Pinterest
Mark Wahlberg wearing crop top in Calvin Klein 90s ad Image from Pinterest
Achille Lauro in Donna Bambina's video @achilleidol
Ezekiel Elliott paying tribute to Prince at the 2016 NFL Draft Image from Pinterest
Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike, 2012 Image fron Pinterest
Zac Efron in Dirty Grandpa, 2015 Image fron Pinterest
Kid Cudi performed in a crop top at Coachella in 2014 Image fron Pinterest
Boys in crop top Image from Pinterest
Lenny Kravitz in the 90s Image from Pinterest
Ginuwine at Radio Music Awards 2000 Image from Pinterest
Ginuwine in the 2000s Image from Pinterest
Prince wearing crop top Image from Pinterest
Bruce Jenner in the 80s Image from Pinterest
Adam Sandler in a cropped MIT shirt in Airheads Image from Pinterest
Lil Nas X at the Grammys 2020 Image from Pinterest
Nirvana in the 90s Image from Pinterest

Ever since Yves Saint Laurent invented Le Smoking pour femme in 1966, the boundaries between garments reserved for women's wardrobe and menswear have started to fade away more and more. The latest taboo to fall is the crop top. Over the years, this item showing off the abs has had moments of popularity and phases in which it has been left to gather dust at the bottom of the closet. Now a new generation of men is rediscovering it and, from Harry Styles to Jaden Smith, there are many guys who wear it regularly. Now that even important brands such as Fendi have re-proposed it on the catwalk, in a fluid half-suit version, the trend is preparing to return as the protagonist of the outfits of the coming seasons.

 

The favorite item of athletes and rockers

Christopher Meloni for Interview Magazine @popfaction
Christopher Meloni for Interview Magazine @popfaction
Christopher Meloni for Interview Magazine @popfaction
Christopher Meloni for Interview Magazine @popfaction

If you think the men's crop top trend is a phenomenon linked to the recent rise of no-gender fashion, you're wrong, because it originated in American colleges in the 1970s, where it embodied a high-testosterone idea of masculinity and was part of the athflow that's still so popular today. As MEL Magazine, the first ones to wear the crop top were football players, when they began cutting off the flaps of their jerseys, so-called "tear-away" jerseys (items "designed to literally rip away in sections as [offensive] players pulled out of the grasp of would-be tacklers"), to prevent opponents from using them as grips to catch and tackle them. Quickly, this controversial garment left the playing fields to reach mainstream sports. Among its biggest fans were boxers and bodybuilders who found it perfect for showing off their sculpted abs, but also to bypass the dress codes that, at the time, prohibited men from working out shirtless inside gyms.

Football player Image from Pinterest
Christopher Atkins in 1982 Image fron Pinterest
Bruce Jenner in the 80s Image from Pinterest
Bruce Jenner in the 80s Image from Pinterest
Boys in crop top Image from Pinterest

 Soon the Gym Bro look became part of the everyday wardrobe and pop culture, and was seen in many 80's and 90's movies: from Johnny Depp in A Nightmare on Elm Street to  Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, from Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike to Apollo Creed in Rocky III

Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike, 2012 Image fron Pinterest
Johnny Depp in Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984 Image from Pinterest
Johnny Depp in Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984 Image from Pinterest
Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker, 1981 Image fron Pinterest
Apollo Creed in Rocky III Image from Pinterest
Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Image from Pinterest
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, 1989 Image fron Pinterest
Adam Sandler in a cropped MIT shirt in Airheads Image from Pinterest
Zac Efron in Dirty Grandpa, 2015 Image fron Pinterest

From the '70s to the '90s, the crop top had a parallel life as an integral part of every artist with rebel ambitions, from Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting to Dennis Rodman on the red carpet, from Mark Wahlberg in an iconic Calvin Klein ad to actual rock stars like Prince, The Ramones, Nirvana, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Lenny Kravitz and many, many more. It didn't matter the genre. If you played punk, glam rock, new wave, grunge or were part of the rave scene, you had to have a top that showed off your abs. 

Lenny Kravitz in the 90s Image from Pinterest
Prince wearing crop top Image from Pinterest
The Ramones in 1976 Image from Pinterest
David Bowie in crop top Image from Pinterest
Mick Jagger by Ebet Roberts
The Beatles Mad Day Out, 1968 Image fron Pinterest
Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode in the 80s Image fron Pinterest
Nirvana in the 90s Image from Pinterest
Kurt Cobain & Courtney Love for Spin magazine, 1992 Image from Pinterest
Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting, 1995 Image from Pinterest
Mark Wahlberg wearing crop top in Calvin Klein 90s ad Image from Pinterest
Dennis Rodman in 1995 Image from Pinterest
Ginuwine at Radio Music Awards 2000 Image from Pinterest
Ginuwine in the 2000s Image from Pinterest

 

On the catwalk

Ludovic De Saint Sernin FW21 @ludovicdesaintsernin
Ludovic De Saint Sernin FW21 @ludovicdesaintsernin
Mugler FW11 Image from Pinterest
Celine FW20 Image from Vogue
Dion Lee FW21 Image from Vogue
Astrid Andersen SS18 Image from Vogue
JW Anderson SS14 Image from Vogue
Xander Zhou SS18 Image from Vogue
Gucci SS16 Image from Vogue
Comme des Garçons Homme Plus FW17 Image from Pinterest
Bobby Abley SS16 Image from Pinterest
Telfar FW19 Image from Vogue
Maison Margiela SS19 Image from Vogue
Fendi SS22 Image from Vogue

Suddenly with the arrival of the new millennium, the crop top stopped being worn by both ordinary people and celebrities, the last star to show his belly in public with a blazer cut off at the waist was Ginuwine at the Radio Music Awards in 2000. The reasons? As an interesting ID article explains, a series of events, from the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy to the Section 28 introduced by Margaret Thatcher ("a new law that banned the promotion of homosexuality in British schools"), contributed to it being seen as undermining the "traditional" masculine aesthetic. 

Post-AIDS there was this backlash of straight men not wanting to be perceived as gay. - Explained Dr. Shaun Cole, associate professor of fashion at the Winchester School of Art. - Fashion, as well, has traditionally been derided as frivolous and feminine.

Although for a decade heterosexual men have been afraid to add crop tops to their wardrobes for fear of being branded as effeminate, camp or queer, the desire to proudly express their aesthetic taste, their personality and their abs has never completely gone away. Keeping it alive have been the designers, who have re-proposed the controversial garment again and again and in different versions, from the tee to the half suit. The last brand to have reinvented it on the catwalks was Fendi SS22, inspired by a hybrid between Bruno (Sacha Baron Cohen's character), Phillip Garner's clothes and Pippa Garner's works.

 

Crop top, celebrities and New Masculinity 

Romeo Beckham for Vogue @romeobeckham
Jacob Elordi for CK @jacobelordi
Harry Styles in Watermelon Sugar's video Image from Pinterest
Noen Eubanks for Celine Image from Pinterest
Kid Cudi performed in a crop top at Coachella in 2014 Image fron Pinterest
Ezekiel Elliott paying tribute to Prince at the 2016 NFL Draft Image from Pinterest
Jaden Smith wearing a crop top Image from Pinterest
Troye Sivan Image fron Pinterest
Lil Nas X at the Grammys 2020 Image from Pinterest
Justin Bieber Image from Pinterest

In both the beauty and fashion industries, gender norms are slowly dissolving.

Clothing is no longer simply male or female. But a lot more complex as new gender identities begin to emerge. - Explains Vicki Karaminas, full professor at Massey University - Gender has become a lot more fluid as Gen Z and millennials are experimenting more with gender and fashion and are rethinking their identities through clothing.

Kati Chitrakorn, retail editor at Vogue Business, shares the same opinion, and she told The Guardian:

Menswear has been increasingly embracing what was generally considered to be women’s garb – high heels, jewellery, frills, gloves, capes – and I think this is due in part to changing perceptions and greater acceptance of different forms of masculinity.

Influenced by the genderless trend, the desire to play freely with their look, showing an eclectic style that dresses all shades of their personality, embracing a non-toxic, confident and fluid masculinity, in recent years more and more male celebrities are deciding to wear crop tops. Kid Cudi went on stage at Coachella 2014 in a red micro shirt. At the 2020 Grammys, Lil Nas X sported a cowboy outfit with a shocking pink cropped jacket. For the video of Watermelon Sugar, Harry Styles chose a short and tight crochet pullover; while Romeo Beckham, new testimonial for Saint Laurent, appeared in the February issue of Vogue Uomo with a light blue top that left his defined abdomen uncovered. And in Italy? In our country, the biggest fans of this trend are Achille Lauro and Damiano David from Maneskin

Damiano David from Maneskin @ykaar
Damiano David from Maneskin @ykaar
Damiano David from Maneskin @ykaar
Achille Lauro in Donna Bambina's video @achilleidol