February 28, 2013

Gays lag, rather than lead, in fashion trends

I'm struck by how many queers I see still sporting some version of the faux hawk hairstyle, carrying messenger bags, and wearing sandals or flip-flops when the weather allows.

The hairstyle peaked in the late 2000s, and almost no straight guy still has his hair like that. Ditto for messenger bags: Google Trends shows a peak in search activity in '07-'08, and you generally see few straight guys with them anymore. Sandals / flip-flops are a harder call, but among straights they don't seem to be as popular as in the 2000s.

It's not as though most gays look dated to 2007, but the fact that a good chunk of them do, while normal guys have mostly given up those fads, suggests a major revision of the received wisdom about gays being trend-setters and straights being sluggish followers.

As another quick reality check, did gays have anything to do with the early '90s revival that has caught on at least somewhat among the trendy stores like Urban Outfitters? Nope. In the stores, they play grunge rather than gay-friendly tunes from the same time. I haven't seen many gays taking part of the whole Fair Isle trend either, let alone lead the way several years before it became mainstream. Seems like most people carry their stuff in a laptop case or briefcase-like thing, or a backpack (a hipster version of which has replaced the messenger bag at trendy stores).

In discussing further examples, just remember that we have to restrict them to things that gays and normals could conceivably both adopt, though perhaps at slightly different times. No straight guy was ever going to wear those faggot capri pants, or school-boy shorts, etc. And no queer was going to grow his hair out all shaggy or bushy. But both groups did wear faux hawks, carry messenger bags, and wear sandals. However, gays didn't start any of those trends, and they are still clinging to them after they're out.

Why don't gays have the leading role that we're so often told they do? As with all their other quirks, it traces back to their Peter Pan-ism. You're not so keenly aware of fashion trends in elementary school, let alone want to play a role in pushing for something new before everybody starts copying you. That's more of an adolescent thing, once you get into more intense social striving and competition.

Being stunted in childhood, gays just don't get how to do that. Their quasi-autism keeps them from recognizing when something is surging or plummeting in popularity, waiting longer to join the trend and holding on for awhile after it's done. My guess is they try to figure it out autistically by reading websites that tell them what's hot and what's not, rather than just pick it up through their social antennae in everyday life.

Before I also pointed out how little "fashion sense" gays have, preferring whatever maximizes their Peter Pan look. Hardly fashionable -- there's nothing dorkier and sadder than someone who's older than 12 and still dresses like a small child.

Most people have very little observational experience of gays, so they just uncritically accept all this media bullcrap about superior gay aesthetics. Where are the gay architects and cinematographers then? Gay painters and sculptors (with real talent)? Gay graphic designers and typographers? Even with clothing and interior design, it seems like their knack is more for picking things out for a client than for creating the items themselves.

Unfortunately I don't see this baseless myth dying off anytime soon. Women love it because it gives them something to shame normal men with -- "You have such poor taste compared to my gay bff." And sadly most men accept it so they can rationalize their dull, ugly, joyless lives as anti-gay, hence masculine, rather than emasculating.

8 comments:

  1. I think the graphic designer at my office is gay. I thought it was in accordance with stereotypes. And Peter Pan-esque chidren don't follow fashion publications, fashion is boring to them. It's obviously not to gays, hence those shows on Bravo or whatever channel it is.

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  2. And which influential graphic designers are those?

    "Websites" are not publications.

    Children are obviously sensitive to and anxious about what is cool or "in".

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  3. I don't remember anyone my age even talking in terms like what's "in" before around puberty. Maybe young girls talk about such stuff.

    Just today Slate happened to post a review of a posthumously published graphic novel by an AIDS-casualty. I didn't read the whole review, but it seemed about as gay as it gets.

    Michaelangelo, da Vinci and Carvaggio are supposed to have been gay, but it's hard to know how seriously to take such claims on the past.

    Generally speaking, I would guess there's a higher gay rate among arists, hence the phrase "arts fags". Michael Blowhard seems to have encountered lots of them. We could probably verify this with Sailer's method of looking at AIDS-deaths.

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  4. No one cares what terms you used. Kids don't wear any old random clothes, they wear what they think is cool. Because they don't decide that themselves, they have to take cues from older cooler kids, sometimes asking directly if they're their siblings.

    Then again, maybe the socially cut-off Millennial generation didn't care if they looked like dorks growing up.

    Gay graphic novelist just proves the point -- 1) that they had to search that broadly, because they're so rare, and 2) that it was in a childish medium.

    Wouldn't be surprised if there are a good number of gays in the video game industry too. Mediocre visuals + opportunity to put erotic gay sex in mainstream America's face.

    Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Caravaggio weren't gay. And that's who I singled out -- artists with real visual talent, not lame failures who turn to provocation instead.

    Let's take the top 100 artists in any visual medium. They'll all be men, so 3-5% of them should be gay. You'd be lucky to even find 1 among the top 100, outside of fashion design.

    Gays just don't have much visual talent. They're more verbal -- always ejaculating words. There are plenty of confirmed gay novelists, poets, and lit critics. But not painters, architects, or cinematographers.

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  5. Anonymous8:29 AM

    The architect Phillip Johnson was gay. It's hard to get more influential than that.

    As for gays in fashion, you have to remember that the gayest of the gay aren't dressing men, they're dressing women, which is where their fashion sense is directed, and where they're most influential.

    It would be difficult to argue that someone like Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, or Gianni Versace did not have an acute visual sense combined with a highly attuned notion of the zeitgeist. There is no other way to explain why something like Dior's "New Look" instantly swept aside everything that preceded it to become the dominant silhouette of it's era.

    Of course, the twin secret is that a) the "gay mafia" in fashion is super powerful, so that many mediocre homosexuals are readily promoted above their ability, but b) exceptional talent eventually wins out, meaning that some of the most important designers (especially of menswear) are straight (Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Oscar de la Renta, Christian Lacroix)

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  6. I'd forgotten Johnson was gay. So there's 1. But they're portrayed and believed to be superior to straight men in aesthetic / visual sense, so they ought to be over-represented. Particularly among the really moving and impressive architects, which eliminates a large number of mid-century and contemporary figures from the running.

    Yet the only place you see that is fashion design, where they enjoy a visual skills advantage as men compared to women.

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  7. Kids don't have money of their own. We wore what our parents bought (you're right that hand-me downs were common, but as the oldest boy I experienced that less than my brother). It was possible for the kid to make an original contribution to the outfit by putting a towel around their neck and pretending to be superman while running around outside.

    In Steve Sailer's "Gays vs Lesbians" table it's the lesbians who are more literary. He didn't mention it, but a disproportionate number of female stand-up comedians seem to be lesbians.

    I'm quite ignorant of the art world and don't know who the famous artists have been since the closet became less normative. Andy Warhol is probably one of the most famous, although it's questionable to what extent that's due to talent rather than self-promotion. On the other hand, it seems hard to think of Damien Hirst as meriting his stature either. Maybe the art world has gone down the tubes into a self-enclosed space because it was taken over by gays?

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  8. Anonymous1:44 AM

    Within men, I think gays hit around 1.0% of the population with bisexual men hitting around another 0.5%. That's how the GSS shows it anyway.

    Yet the only place you see that is fashion design, where they enjoy a visual skills advantage as men compared to women.

    Interestingly, there is some evidence of a split in visual abilities between men and women, with men getting more spatial abilities and women having relatively more facility with colour and shape qualities of objects. The ventral and dorsal tream of visual processing respectively. Women would be more likely to be classified as object visualisers -

    http://www.nmr.mgh.harvard.edu/mkozhevnlab/?tag=object-spatial-verbal.

    Assuming the sex atypical explanation of homosexuality, it would be interesting whether male gays get the male or female ability strength here.

    Women also tend to have much higher art school enrollments and aesthetic interests than men, while having under representation at higher ranks.

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