There is a commonly held perception that men who rock sagged pants, oversized shirts and embrace ‘thug life’ are more masculine.
However, fashion influencer Paul Fearon plans to change that notion, as he says there is still value in dressing well and looking clean.
Fearon said that while paying attention to fashion is not something that is impressed upon young Jamaican men as a masculine thing to do, it should be.
According to Fearon, there has been a generational shift in the attitudes surrounding masculinity, fuelled by urban rap culture.
“When you would watch the NBAs, you know, people like the Michael Jordans and Patrick Ewings people like the Scotty Pippens. You would see them showing up to games, pre games in suits and ties,” explained Fearon .
“And I remember watching when I was young, I’m like ‘Wow, these men are professional players and they’re dope, they’re going to a game looking so clean.’ They were wearing custom made suits and all that. And then what happened? The generation changed and now everybody is doing urban. So it was like the rappers were now influencing the new young players, it wasn’t the old legends, like the Michael Jordans and Patrick Ewings who always looked good,” added Fearon.
Fearon said, the move toward ‘urban swag’ has, for the most part, attacked and strangled the art of dressing well, noting that when he visits Jamaica yearly he is alarmed by the way young men present themselves.
“So sad to say, even our older men, they don’t take much interest in making sure they look presentable. And so that is being passed on to the younger generation,” said Fearon.
Fearon further explained that young women are also fuelling the lack of attention men give to their appearance, adding that because they are still able to attract a mate, there is no incentive to change.
“I say this very cautiously. You know, I think women have a lot to do with it. If you are a woman and you’re with a guy who is not putting himself together, I think the onus is upon you to say, ‘hey, if you don’t know how to do it, let me help you in a nice way’,” Fearon said.
“It’s passed down from the mothers not making sure that the young man from their growing up [learn how to dress] because the harsh reality is children live what they learn. I’m the way I am loving fashion, because of my parents. You know, my mom made sure that I was always looking good from I was young. And it stuck with me, from primary school through high school,” he added.’
Looking good is a value that he’s taken with him throughout his life, noting that even when times are hard, dressing well can often provide a boost in confidence.
According to Fearon, confidence is a “soft skill” that he believes the nation’s men need that could help them transform other areas of their life.
For Fearon it is not just about using his platform to show off the newest piece in his wardrobe but to help young men restore confidence and pride in themselves.
“ I post to inspire, you know, young men can really see hey, you can look good, and not feel like you’re gay. Now it has the argument where if you look clean and fashionable, you are gay,” said Fearon.
“But I hope for me, dressing up and posting and being an influencer to others will help to change that,”added Fearon.
While noting that he doesn’t discriminate against any group, he wants to break the back of the stereotype and make it masculine again to dress well.