Michael Bastian is a rising star in American men's fashion as he parades around dressed entirely in denim.
The era of the fashion-conscious, accessory- and jewelry-loving man -- gay or straight -- has dawned. And it's all thanks to bloggers and style-conscious stars like Kanye West and Jay-Z.
AdvertisementAcross the United States, clothing brands are multiplying, fulfilling increasing demand for smart and casual wear, accessories and jewelry and mining the potential in a market on the rise.
"Previously, it has been marginalized," said Mark-Evan Blackman, assistant menswear professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, one of New York's most prestigious design schools.
"People were not thinking of it as being vibrant and sexy and fun. That really has changed within the last decade, and it's really hitting its stride now," said Blackman.
Commentators now predict that New York could get its own fashion week just for men in July, attributing the revolution in sartorial demand to bloggers followed by millions online.
"It's been driven by the menswear blogs," said Bastian, a designer with an eponymous label and former men's fashion director at luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman in New York.
"Men are catching up to the women... they're more interested in style and in fashion and how they look," he said.
Behind him, models dressed in suede and slim-fit shirts from his spring/summer 2015 collection inspired by Arizona and New Mexico are filmed and photographed by designers and critics alike.
- Blogs, Kanye and Jay-Z -
A feathered bronze chain hangs around the neck of one. Another sports a snakehead bracelet.
Bastian says an entirely new generation is excited about menswear -- be it heritage, classic, tailored or streetwear -- and for every fascination you have, "there is a blog for it."
"With social media and Instagram, men are so much more exposed to fashion and needing to look good and stay in shape," agrees Todd Magill, design director of menswear brand Jack Spade.
Then there is the inevitable trickle-down effect wielded by global music superstars Jay-Z, who wrote a rap song named after American designer Tom Ford, or the fashion-obsessed West.
West took to the stage in 2012 wearing a leather men's Givenchy skirt with leather leggings and a big cotton hoodie.
If a man can wear a skirt with a hoodie, why not add a bag, a necklace or a ring? Once sneered at for being effeminate, accessories are being embraced online and on the street.
- Sea change -
Jake Gallagher, fashion blogger at AContinuousLean.com, says the passion for men's fashion is a "sea change."
"I don't know if menswear will ever surpass womenswear but the excitement around menswear right now is certainly larger," he told AFP, calling New York the epicenter of this new trend.
"Things are a lot rougher, a lot less exact here than... over in France, or in London, or in Milan, but the excitement in what is happening here is really something that can't be matched."
Bastian launched his eponymous label in 2006, joining the likes of Thom Browne, Rag and Bone or Band of Outsiders to find success despite competition from heavyweights such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger.
Along with these young, trendy brands, bigger fish from the women's fashion world are seeking to tap into this new market.
"We are taking the men's business very seriously," John Idol, chairman and CEO of high quality pret-a-porter brand Michael Kors Holdings Ltd, said in May.
With a market value at more than $16 billion on the stock exchange, the group plans to open a large new boutique in New York's Soho with an entire floor dedicated to men later this year, followed by other dedicated menswear shops.
Building on leather goods, sportswear and watches, the "MK" brand hopes for a $1 billion men's business.
"We view menswear as a huge opportunity for us," Idol told Women's Wear Daily in an interview this summer.
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