From boy babe half-tops to uniform looks, queers once set trends the straights
aped. OutUK's Adrian Gillan asks top style gurus whether we're now just a
clichéd bunch of dead-end clones while many straight-boys have taken to look more gay than gay.
Has homo-fashion lost its way?
Nicola Formichetti Menswear Editor, Dazed & Confused
The gay clone look - shaved head and combats - is not fashion. It's been there a
long time. It's what straights and neo-Nazis were wearing back in the 80s. Gay
gays copied and maybe subverted it. But it's not fashion.
There is a new generation of kids though - mostly gay - who are a neo-Popstarz crowd
who read the latest magazines and go to hot events. It's an 80s/90s look, with a
bit of New York and Berlin thrown in too. They are more experimental, will use
makeup and are into music, art and fashion. I think they do influence 'advanced'
straight culture with their haircuts and accessories.
I've also noticed young gay guys wearing what straight hip hop boys wear - only
better. Again, it's gay guys who copy straight guys and turn it into a fantasy
and make it perfect. It's like a parody of being straight. They're better at
dressing straight than the straight boys themselves.
99% of male fashion designers are gay. I know lots of them. They tend to go into
the realms of pure fantasy when they design for women and then produce what they
would love to wear themselves when designing for men.
Catherine Hayward Fashion Editor, GQ
When I'm travelling back home past the Vauxhall Tavern in summer I see lots of guys
with shaven heads spilt out onto the pavement. But I don't think there's just one
gay look. Lots of my friends are gay: one guy is into the 'city' suit look and one
couple I know are old fashioned and into 30s deco.
I think many gay men have a 'faff factor' - they can be very fussy and self conscious.
It's a generalisation but many are quite peacockish. They certainly make an effort.
That's a characteristic shared years ago by footballer David Beckham who cared a very
great deal about how he looked. He started a trend of dressing in a
'gay way', and made male vanity a virtue.
David Beckham still makes his own choices, not some team of designers. He experiments with
a real sense of enjoyment and has made a big impact on the mainstream. When we shot
him for GQ Magazine he asked for an American 'Gatsby' look. Maybe other straight guys who are set
in their ways are jealous and feel threatened, thinking: why can't I try that.
Maybe that's why they call him 'gay'.
Tony Lewis Fashion Editor, Esquire
I don't think men caring about how they look can be described as gay. It's more about naïve
experimentation. And when anyone experiments, they sometimes get it wrong. I think
if Beckham got it right all the time, he wouldn't be called a gay icon, because
I think, outside gay circles, it's his detractors who call him 'gay'. It's a homophobic
undercurrent from straight guys who are too afraid to experiment and be themselves.
I think there are a variety of gay looks out on the streets and not just in clubs.
It's about creativity. I think gay men are often particularly experimental with
accessories like belts, hats and boots, and even make-up. They're also not afraid
to show some skin, and not only if they're muscled.
And of course a large number of people involved in creating fashion and design are
themselves gay - from McQueen to Galliano - so any gay looks are quite likely to
reach a more mainstream audience that way too. So I think gay men have made a big
contribution to fashion.
It's not about being effeminate: it's about being adventurous and not being afraid
to challenge gender stereotypes and things. Most straight men still find that hard to do.
Photography by Andrew Swaine courtesy