Chapter 1: The New Man

Thoughts on men and fashion - six summer episodes by fashion connoisseur and word acrobat Jeroen van Rooijen.

Fashion buyers are herd animals. They run collectively to where everyone is grazing. Because there, they suspect, the grass must be particularly juicy. But now everyone is bleating in desperation because there is almost nowhere to find a nice meadow. One hears that it is simply impossible to plan for the coming season due to a lack of travel and new impulses. The traders are left to their own devices. At least there is a perspective: the leading trade fair Pitti Uomo in Florence will take place again at the beginning of July for the first time in 18 months as a real meeting place. There will be a big chatter!

But there is another way – by means of introspection: listen to yourself instead of copying. Assuming that clothing is the expression of societal changes, one can well imagine the near future. Because such social changes happen slowly, continuously and unstoppably. Tsunami researchers also first observe the large movements of the water before they pile up at the edges of the ocean to form visible waves. Really new things don't come about in fashion when a fashion designer has something in mind, but when people's living conditions change. And we have all experienced that very impressively.

The men in particular are challenged. You need to reinvent yourself all over again. The new man should be different from his father and grandfather. Sheer strength and a high level of testosterone are no longer arguments, as you can read everywhere these days. Also, the tip is no longer a scepter that promises a claim to leadership. The "toxic" masculinity must be shaken off, the new man should become more sensitive, softer and more emotionally accessible. While men used to be, to paraphrase Herbert Grönemeyer, “hard on the outside and very soft on the inside”, today they are soft on the outside and really hard on the inside. According to the German Future Institute, it must be “resilient”, which means: resistant and resilient, elastic and yet unbreakable.

Don't be afraid of this challenge! We've practiced that a few times. It is by no means the first time in the last fifty years that masculinity has been renegotiated: Think of David Bowie, the New Romantics, Conchita Wurst. And if you look at younger men, the current redefinition of masculinity - as a flexible state away from stereotypes - is also not something that creates pain or tension, but something that has liberating qualities. The new man knows how to fit into new contexts. Adapt without bending. Be yourself and still keep up with the times. The new man can argue instead of bark, dance instead of stumble, feast instead of eat and is better read than drunk. He can also listen instead of just yelling.

The new nature of this man is reflected in the silhouette: it is more flowing, free from harshness, relies on comfort and a good dash of leisure flair. Life is hard enough - the clothes don't have to be strenuous too. So the new look has to be as comfortable as the home and leisure wear you love, but smarter. The new outfit is as smart as a classic suit, but wears like casual wear. Thanks to new, elastic yarns, more sophisticated cuts and ultra-modern processing, it is now possible to tailor the suit so comfortably that you could do sports in it. Do not you believe? Then stop by our Alferano studio and we will show you.

Next week: How the new masculinity is changing the cuts of the masculine wardrobe.

Jeroen van Rooijen is a freelance style critic and co-founded the Alferano flagship store in 2014.