Fashion vs style: The repudiation of fashion in online menswear communities
Members of online menswear communities spend their leisure time engaged in extensive textual discussions of menswear. This article presents some of the findings from a study of these online menswear communities. It is based on an online ethnography of six online menswear forums and 50 in-depth interviews with men from Britain, Canada and the United States who use them. It details how the research participants, despite their passion for clothing, produced a rhetorical distance between style and fashion. Fashion was rejected in favour of what was described as ‘classic menswear’, ‘style’, ‘timeless style’ or simply ‘clothes’. This was a productive critique of fashion’s temporality, with online menswear communities offering a more democratic, inclusive and participatory alternative to men’s fashion. However, this rejection of fashion also reflected the persistent gendering of fashion. As spaces for the discussion of clothing, as opposed to fashion, online menswear communities allowed men to enjoy clothes and consumption without their masculinity being tainted by fashion’s associations with femininity.