The wrong trousers - Monocolumn | Monocle


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1 August 2010

Do you feel that you have been seeing a little more gentleman’s ankle than usual this summer? A touch more shoulder? Even a dash more knee? From Stockholm to Shoreditch, Milan to Manhattan, trousers have found themselves rolled up, hemlines of shorts compromised courtesy of a fold or two above the knee, and young men have been bitten by an irresistible urge to roll up their T-shirt sleeves.

It’s a trend that retailers have had to catch up with fast because it’s been passed on from the early adopters to the mainstream in a literal flash.

The current ankle display can be traced back to 2001 when the New York designer Thom Browne set up his own label and started sending out collection upon collection of niggardly proportioned shorts and matching wrist-revealing blazers. Browne’s well-tailored fetish has since slowly trickled down on to high streets worldwide. Now it’s viral.

“It’s been around for a while,” says Cathal McAteer, owner of London menswear brand Folk, who has been exposing the fibulas of his in-store mannequins for a while. “When you see it on websites like Asos and in advertising for French Connection, you know it’s popular and has hit the mainstream,” he observes.

Why has it become the young man’s look for summer 2010? Is it the first style for an age of austerity, a cut that references clothes from times and places of equally diminished resources?

Jeremy Hackett, the dapper founder of Hackett agrees that the trend has a much longer heritage than its current supporters probably realise. “I think the rolled up trouser has either been inspired by 1950s Midwest America where apple pie kids seemed forever to be running around in rolled up dungarees and faded Levi’s or less romantically, 1970s skinhead fashion.

“It is a style statement against the predictability of the classic suit,” he concludes. A man who knows how to look impeccable, he seems to have resisted the temptation to hoik up his breeches.

He needn’t worry. Like the leaves, it’s likely men’s hemlines will start falling again this autumn. Chilly ankles are never fun.


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