The global fad of the metrosexual image or the “metro look” for males is sparking quite a fervid fervor in cultures everywhere, especially here in Korea.
The idea of men wanting to be more stylish isn’t new, as fashion continues to repeat itself. In the late 60s and early 70s, for example, it was called the androgynous image or the “unisex look.” Today’s metrosexual term comes from the blending of metropolis and heterosexual. The British journalist Mark Simpson coined the term and described what the look was all about in his 1994 article “Here Comes the Mirror Men.” In it, he brazenly states, “Male vanity has finally come out of the closet.” Famous actors such as Leonardo Dicaprio and Brad Pitt, along with British soccer star David Bechman, are used by him as prime examples of the metro look. Why? Simpson adds, “Because they loved being looked at and men and women love looking at them.”
In Korea, the younger generation has embraced the look by taking the route of making themselves attractive in a very conspicuous manner that mirrors the seriousness women do. What does this image actually entail? Impeccably groomed body hair which is commonly referred to as “manscaping” is a must (not to mention, a well sprayed head of hair). Popular clothing articles include tightly tailored pants, trendy loafers and extremely pointy shoes. Plus, there is the using of toiletries which were once considered only in the female domain.
The hottest items use all shades of pink— light, medium dark, purpled pink, and everything in between. The items range from a myriad of clothing items to simply wearing a striking pink tie to work. Korean men are bringing the ad slogan “Tough Guys Wear Pink” to life.
Zipper ties are in and they come with pre-tied knots and a zipper that goes up or down to snugly fit the wearer’s neck. One must, of course, have a matching murse (man purse). Some might sneer at the thought of a murse, but men have merely realized how convenient such bags are instead of trying to put everything into a wallet or pockets. Scarves have also become a great accessory that is no longer just a neck warming utilitarian object (actor Jang Keun Suk is most noted for popularizing the scarf with a man-blouse). It is properly worn draping ones shoulder as to better bring out the color of the eyes. The group SHINee are the epitome of the overall dress look with their glittering suits, light reflecting ties and sugar coated dress shirts. These boys have proved, for men, shiny is the new black.
The Korean metro man, who is confident in his masculinity, is typically young with money to spend (looking good and maintaining it isn’t always cheap) and lives in, or is within, easy reach of a major city (hence the name) because that is where the best shops, clubs, gyms, and hairdressers are located.
Probably the most noticeable aspect of a metro man is his willingness to use all of cosmetics and health care items available to make himself as alluring as his female counterpart. Some of the most photographed celebrities sporting heavy makeup are G-Dragon of Big Bang, Kevin of U-kiss, Leeteuk and Sungmin of Super Junior, Jinwoon of 2AM and Hong Ki of FT Island.
Tim Gunn, respected men’s designer and Project Runway’s resident fashion guru, had this to say about the look while on one of the Oprah shows dedicated to male makeovers, “Men simply are realizing that women were on to something concerning how to present themselves. It has nothing to do with gender or masculinity. It has to do with becoming style conscious and trying to highlight ones finest attributes.”
Spring is the time for new beginnings, so go out and experiment with your fashion look, and maybe, you’ll boldly go the metro route.