GQ Magazine recently wrote a feature around an outfit that A$AP Ferg displayed on his Instagram. It was a pink velour sweatsuit, very reminiscent of the days when Hip-Hop stars wore sweatsuits or velvet tracksuits, usually made by urban clothiers like Phat Farm or FUBU. The outfit was appalling and made A$AP Ferg look like a stand-in for the Pink Panther or the offspring of “Pinky” the pimp from Ice Cube’s Next Friday. GQ agreed that that outfit wasn’t a win for the rapper, but they applauded him for his courage and threw in a couple tips on the correct way to wear velour especially since designers like Alexander Wang and Versace have incorporated the fabric into their collections.
Why all the fuss over a cheap knock-off of Velvet? The choices for velour in menswear aren’t anything special, more like overpriced casual wear. If trying to modernize the style of throwback pimps and drug dealers is the goal then why not attempt to give men a more luxurious look from an underused material in menswear such as lamé. Walking out the house resembling an extra from the “Player’s Ball” episode of Martin is much better than becoming a real life representation of fuzzy dice. It’s almost like comparing a jerry curl to a press-n-curl; the press-n-curl wins hands down.
For those unfamiliar with lamé, it’s a golden metallic fabric mostly known for its use in evening dresses and gowns for women. It’s also great for theatrical costumes and futuristic looks. Lamé can appear as gold, silver, or copper, but most of the time it’s golden. If you watched the Grammys or have seen pictures from the red carpet, you might have caught a glimpse at Solangé’s dress which was a gold lamé designed by Gucci.
Few designers have taken the time to incorporate lamé in their menswear collections. They usually reserve the fabric to make luxurious dresses for women. Lavin‘s former Creative Director, Alber Elbaz, once told the NY Times that his use of lamé in Lavin’s Fall 2010 Men’s Collection came from a desire to create a union between menswear and womenswear. He was discussing the way that men and women have evolved in the way that they interact with clothing. According to Elbaz, men want the same level of creativity and imagination that designers put into womenswear in their own clothing. He noted the way that contemporary men aren’t afraid to wear floral designs and satin, the same way women wear tweed jackets and flannel shirts.
For years womenswear has repeatedly been inspired by menswear. On the runways, we see oversized sweaters, camouflage jackets, and tuxedos for women. Chanel’s Creative Director, Karl Lagerfeld, admits the that his own fashion house has definitely taken inspiration from menswear; he says “Coco Chanel took a lot from men’s dressing room. She took from the boys; we give back to the boys.” Other fashion houses like Prada also borrowed from men to give to women, however, Prada’s 2010 Fall Men’s Fashion Show featured both sexes simultaneously walking the runway in matching outfits.
Hopefully, soon we will see a renewed interest in lamé for menswear; men deserve to have lamé blazers, button downs, vests, pants, jumpsuits, and bomber jackets on the runways. We might even see modern three piece suits or tuxedos that don’t make men look like Superfly or Dolemite. There’s nothing wrong with velour, however, everything has a place and a time. Utilizing lamé in menswear is just one step in broadening the choices that men have in fashion. The overall message is that men deserve more and designers need to improve the way that they approach menswear; mix-up fabrics, modernize vintage looks and create more unisex garments. A$AP Ferg’s velour outfit wasn’t simply a fashion faux pas, but a cry for help.