Modern man is losing the fight to the metrosexual and advertisers are placing their allegiance with increasing frequency on the side they believe will be victorious. The outcome, I fear, means the feminising of man.
To accept or reject this argument, it is important to explain the difference between a metrosexual and a modern man. The former, as defined by Mark Simpson almost 20 years ago in The Independent newspaper, is a city man very much concerned with the latest trends, attending the biggest events and hooking up at the must-be-seen-at places. Think of a single guy today who lives in Dubai who must hit all the new nightclub openings.
A modern man has a greater appreciation for history and fashion's place in it. He is a man of taste without being vain. He dresses to impress, but knows that without the professional skills to back up his appearance he will fall short in his pursuit of style. Both types of men focus on their grooming, physique and attire, but the modern man is more of a Renaissance man.
For instance, a metrosexual man is Roger Moore as James Bond circa 1985 in A View to a Kill, while a modern man is Daniel Craig in Martin Campbell's 2006 remake of Casino Royale; a metrosexual is David Beckham and a modern man is the New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady; Mick Jagger versus Keith Richards; Ricky Martin versus Ricky Ricardo. The contrast between the metrosexual and the modern man does not pit style over substance (because the metrosexual and the modern man are both concerned with style); rather, it is presenting man as pretty as opposed to handsome, it is free weights versus universal weights; a body builder instead of an athlete.
There is no more obvious example of this attempt to feminise man than in the purses, murses, totes, handbags and European carryalls that are being marketed to men. Cole Haan, Gucci, Prada, Burberry and Coach all sell bags with a definite feminine look to them. Some fashion houses even have man clutches. Shoot me now.
Louis Vuitton has even gone so far as to hire a few modern men to hawk its company's wares. Sean Connery epitomises the modern man and he is pictured with a handbag my mother would find attractive (admittedly, they are nearly the same age); Francis Ford Coppola is seen with his daughter, Sofia, and a bag the 40-year-old director of Lost in Translation would carry, not the man who directed The Godfather; Mikhail Gorbachev is pictured in the back seat of a car with a bag his former wife, Raisa, who died in 1999, might have found fetching, but surely not appropriate for the man who helped bring down the Berlin Wall.
For good or for bad, men are men and they must live up to certain masculine standards. I am not suggesting an outdated attitude such as sexism, for example, is in any way acceptable, but I am saying that men must not surrender who they are for passing fads. Remember, style is timeless, fashion is passing.
Michael Jabri-Pickett is the news editor at The National. Contact him at email@example.com
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