See what trends are emerging from the urban jungles of our metropolis.
Separating the men from the boys, rugby players are everywhere right now. From the covers of men’s magazines to starring in underwear and fragrance commercials to being completely starkers in yearly calendars, the rugby-body-type is the latest male fixation. Gone are the beer bellies and cauliflower ears to be replaced with ripped muscles bulging in skin-tight sports kit.
Left - James Haskell on the cover of Attitude - Where gay men lead, others follow
“Personally, I think it's two fold, firstly, yes, people are sick of footballers getting caught with their pants down, literally, the veneer of their status has well and truly tarnished. But, the appeal of the male form has changed, with the rebirth of 007 in the shape of Daniel Craig this seemed to alter people's perception of male beauty and what both men & women found attractive, maybe something more traditionally masculine,” says Anthony McGrath from Clothes Make The Man.
The fascination with rugby started at the beginning of the noughties with the French Dieux du Stade calendars. Twelve months of nude or semi-nude players, originally from the domestic Stade Français team, in various homoerotic poses has become a yearly event with as much hype and ‘behind-the-scenes’ YouTube clips to rival the 80s heyday of the Pirelli Calendar.
Mark Simpson, author and journalist credited with coining the term ‘metrosexual’, says, “Since Rugby Union went 'pro' a decade or so ago, rugby players have undergone a stunning physical transformation. They have lost the beer guts and become shredded. They look like porn stars. And they know it. Many of them are porn stars -albeit DDS (Dieux du Stade) style porn.
Right - The Dieux du Stade Calendar 2013
“The main reason they are popular at the moment with advertising is that they are bodies, much more so than footballers. Footballers are mostly 'skill' - although footballers all work out nowadays, a body isn't essential. e.g. Wayne Rooney. Rugby players are physically much more impressive and imposing than footballers, and thus more suited to the needs of a visual culture which has only recently discovered the male body as a visual pleasure and commodity,” says Simpson.
While rugby players are less commercially exposed than their skinnier and overpaid footballer cousins, a few, such as Ben Cohen, Ben Foden, James Haskell, Thom Evans and Danny Cipriani are quickly becoming household names. Papped on the arms of Kelly Brook or one of the Saturdays, our interest in their visual appearance has been spiked enough to Google to find out more.
Left - Nick Youngquest is the face of the new Paco Rabanne fragrance, Invictus, out 30th July 2013
Another illustration of the cult of the rugby boy is the latest star and face of the new Paco Rabanne men’s fragrance, Invictus. Set to be one of the fragrance launches of the year, the 30 years old Australian rugby player, Nick Youngquest, stands naked ‘Greek-style’ sans the victory laurel and covered in tattoos; the epitome of today’s ‘champion’. Vincent Thilloy, Vice-President, Paco-Rabanne, says “We chose him because he perfectly represents the dichotomy of the champion who is both admired by men and desired by women. A charismatic champion in the literal sense of the word, he stands in stark contrast to sterile beauties and one-dimensional celebrities.
“It was important that the embodiment, the face, of this hero was not a conventional model who “acts out” an emotion. We wanted to work with someone who could embody on screen an emotion and feelings that he had already experienced, a man who had been mentally and physically shaped by diligently practising sport on a daily basis,” says Thilloy.
These are the men that Men’s-Health-reading-men want to be and women want to be with. “The highly physical nature of their sport means that they are somehow both aesthetic and practical. Their muscles are great to look at but they're also useful - on a rugby pitch at any rate. They can be enjoyed voyeuristically but also as some kind of masculine 'authenticity',” says Simpson.
Right - Thom Evans in D.Hedral underwear campaign
Molton Brown’s recent men’s 'Sport' collection of products was fronted by Ugo Monye. His rippling body was almost shocking in its honesty, but because it was there for a sporting reason, it was more acceptable and therefore deemed not too much to be displayed, full-view, at the front of the shop.
Rugby players also have an added layer of class; the association with public schools and a good upbringing, they have the fantasy of manners and behaving like gentlemen and not like the spoilt footballer ‘boys’ that we have grown tired of.
Today’s brands are finding that rugby guys are polishing up nicely and with a smaller budget, you can definitely get more man for your money.
Left - Ugo Monye in Molton Brown's Sport range
“I think there are probably several reasons why rugger buggers are popular at the moment with media types. Including the fact they're probably cheaper to hire than footballers, as footballers tend to make much more money and have very greedy agents,” says Simpson.
The new male ideal is the lean rugby-type. The two seem to have met in a middle ground - the rugby players have got fitter and leaner and the fashion has moved back to the classically rippled figure. These aren’t some prostrate or redundant models from a Calvin Klein commercial, but real men with believable bodies, devoid of the fake steroid-enhanced shaping that has never done or is likely to do any ‘work’.
Male bodies are on show now more than ever and it seems these are the type generating the marketing dollars. They may have odd shaped balls, but rugby players are the benchmark for the new male body.
Sandwiched between the indie-pop of the 1960’s and the cheesy Disco at the end of the 1970’s, a movement blossomed in the North of the country that moved to the sound of high-tempo American soul music. ‘Northern Soul’, as it was coined, became a beacon for energetic dancing in clubs such as the ‘Wigan Casino’ and the ‘Blackpool Mecca’. Wigan Casino was voted the best discotheque in the world by Billboard Magazine in 1978, beating the legendary New York club, Studio 54.
2013 sees the release of a new film, Northern Soul, by Elaine Constantine that celebrates this amazing time and gives us an excuse to revisit the style and look of the time.
Left – Elaine Constantine's new film – 'Northern Soul'
For men, the style was usually tight-fitting, knitted tops in sober 1970’s colours, badges sewn on to vests and wide, flared trousers. It was part mod, part sportswear, due to the hours of exaggerated dance movements. Here are TheChicGeek’s picks of the best brands and items using Northern Soul as a starting point;
The classic Merc ‘Sta-Press’ trouser is a cropped rendering of "stay pressed”. Looking smart for longer, these trousers don’t need to be ironed. These were the archetypal Mod trouser of the 60s and still look great today, as the shape for trousers has returned to slim or skinny fit. Just don’t expert to be able to do the splits while dancing in them!
Right - Merc - Jesse Knitted Polo W1 Collection - £65, Winston Sta Trouser - £60
Slightly more Skinhead than Northern Soul, ChicGeek disclaimer! - all groups crossed over in various guises throughout the decade, Brutus and Dr. Martens have collaborated for a second season on this ‘Trimfit’ shirt. Each yellow and red ginham shirt includes a perfectly pressed handkerchief which pays homage to the ‘suedeheads’ of the 1960’s and their fanatical approach to pin sharp dressing. Northern Soul guys favoured short-sleeved shirts due to how excessively hot they got while dancing.
Left - Brutus ‘Trimfit’ x Dr Martens Shirt - £50
Knitted short-sleeved tops allowed for ease of movement while staying fitted and accentuating the body. This one from Pretty Green will fit snug to your body and is perfect for all your modern Northern Soul acrobatics!
Below - Pretty Green – Red Tipped Knitted Polo - £65
Northern Soul guys often carried a bag containing a change of clothes, because many of the big nights lasted well into the next morning and things would start to get a little fragrant! This barrel shape is a classic from Fred Perry that hasn’t changed since then.
Above - Fred Perry – Classic Barrel Bag - £55
Left - A Northern Soul image from Ben Sherman’s 50th Anniversary Book – See more here
Left - Penguin – ‘Earl’ Vest - £20
Below - Ben Sherman Plectrum – Polo Canyon Sunset - £80
The fashion for rucksacks has become bigger than a fad and they are now a permanent part of the men's bag landscape. We've put this down to sports, particularly cycling, where guys needed to carry things while keeping their hands free. But, one trend among rucksacks this season is the bigger and squarer, the better. Here we look at the best examples of this new trend and how they fit into your everyday life;
The Active Backpack
Give us something with style that you could wear in a hurricane and we’re in. This one from American brand Chrome is basically tidal-wave-proof and has pockets inside for all your important items like your wallet and laptop. We’re suckers for simplistic work-wear design and that’s why we love this bag: a transitional piece that works well in your work wardrobe as well as for casual. We really like the roll top design for added weatherproofing and security. Whilst the clips inject relaxed sports-wear into your wardrobe, balanced by its simple and chic design.
Above - Chrome - 'District' - $110
The Business Backpack
Balancing modernity with notions of classic design, this is definitely one for 'The Apprentice' among you. Made from beautiful brown leather and with its double carry handle option, you can wear it as a backpack or hold it like a briefcase when you have those all-important meetings. Never compromising function, the backpack measures 15” high, 18” across and 7” deep, meaning ample room for your gym kit, lunch, laptop and umbrella: everything in one bag. Ensuring your outfit remains stylish, simple and professional.
Right - Dr. Martens - Leather Rucksack - £155
The Casual Backpack
The fashion world has looked to Scandinavia for years now for pure and refined design. RAINS is no exception; with functionality at its core, we instantly fell for their entire collection. However, this bag in particular has been the bag. Made from completely waterproof Polyurethane, which gives it its flexible, soft neoprene look, the fabric locks the world out and protects your belongings inside.
Above - RAINS - Rucksack - £55
The sunshine is on its way, hopefully, so it's time for a wardrobe refresh. We're scoured online store Zalando for the perfect pieces to update your wardrobe and take you through this transitional time and into summer. Here's what TheChicGeek choose and why;
"This subtle floral print almost looks like leopard print from a distance. The button-down Oxford collar keeps it neat and the cooling cotton makes it perfect for summer with the sleeves rolled up to show off your guns!"
Left - French Connection - Pinking Floral Shirt - £45
"Camouflage is a massive trend this season. This T-shirt has a washed/aged feeling with a bold contrast pocket. Perfect with a pair of shorts and under a hoody".
Below - Jack & Jones - Anton Print Camo T-Shirt - £17
"Designer Roberto Cavalli knows how to do 'look-at-me' dressing. This kaleidoscope pattern shirt is perfect for a warm summer evening. A touch of lycra gives it stretch and a better fit to your body".
Left - Just Cavalli - Patterned Short-sleeve Shirt - £175
Below - KG by Kurt Geiger - Sorrento Boat Shoes - £85
"If anybody asks, tell them it's Missoni! This round-neck flecked knit is great for spring days under tailoring or with shorts for cooler summer nights".
Farah - Ashby Sweater - £60