Male modelling is not known for its diversity of bodies. Haute couture is ruled by slender adolescents and the high street brands promote Ken doll silhouettes for menswear. This is now changing because the body positivity movement is gaining some ground in men’s fashion. For the past few years, there has been an increase in the popularity of female plus-size models who break into the mainstream market. Now their male counterparts are getting some exposure.
Recently, IMG Models signed Zach Miko. Miko is a New York-based model who stands 6’6″ and has a 40-inch waist. They have made a new term for big and tall. The brawn division has been created for those with bodies like Miko. “Brawn” conveys a much more positive image and “big and tall.” Other agencies are sure to follow suit and create their own new divisions for this niche of fashion.
Bruce Sturgell is the founder of the fashion blog Chubstr. He is also part of the growing male plus-size movement in the United States. He launched his unique Web site in 2010. He explains, “I’ve always been a bigger guy, and finding clothes that fit has generally been a pain. I spent an afternoon at the shopping mall, trying to find clothes that fit, and I left empty-handed. I was frustrated by the entire situation, so I decided to head to Tumblr to complain about it.”
Once he was on the social media site Tumblr, Sturgell connected with other men who were similarly frustrated. Sturgell complained about brands that don’t sell extended sizes, then he started sharing photos of looks that he created. That’s when he realized that there was a need for a brand to address the lack of bigger sizes in menswear. That’s how Chubster.com was born. Their mission is to help bigger-size men find, create, and share their style with the world. They are showing the world that men, and plus-size men at that, can be fashionable too. There is always a misconception that men do not care about fashion.
The lack of different body types in brand ambassadors is hurtful for the menswear industry. There are many different body types that need to be represented. The bodies that are placed on magazine covers, clothing stores, and shown on TV do not look like the average man. With Chubstr photo shoots, they feature male plus-size models, so the readers respond positively seeing someone with a similar body type modeling the clothes that they might want to purchase.
Another roadblock in men’s fashion is that men find it more difficult to speak about their body image. Women are very vocal, but men have the standard muscular body type as the goal ever since they are young. If they do not have this body shape, society seems to make them think they are less worthy. Chubby kids are picked on, chubby teenagers might not be as popular, and as a young adult weight can be an issue too, so it makes it more difficult for individuals to speak up about body issues affecting men men.
The fashion industry has mostly focused on womenswear. Men’s line are more often than not disregarded. Now that IMG Models has launched the Brawn division, there will be more acceptance of a different men’s model body type. It could be a sign that doors will open and we will see more plus-size men featured in ads and other media. The haute couture world will probably take longer to come around and accept a different body type, but overall this bodes well for the body positivity movement.
For too long, big men have been hidden and placed on the sidelines of the fashion world. But the average American man has a 39-inch waist and the average British man has a 37-inch waist. So why should men’s fashion continue to promote the Ken doll silhouette? In the past few years, women’s wear designers have been pressured to give a more accurate representation of the female form, but the men’s lines have not had the same pressure.
It’s still in its infancy, but the men’s body positivity campaign is growing. It’s far behind the progress of the women’s movement headed by Tess Holliday and Ashley Graham. In the UK, there is no plus-size agency for men. In Europe, you’ll only find one in Germany. Thankfully, IMG Models has already taken the first step by creating the Brawn division. This year, 2016, is sure to make bigger strides, because other agencies will take note and also include male plus-size models in their roster of talent.