How “Romphim” is Challenging the Direction of Menswear

All of social media and various news outlets are in a frenzy trying to understand (and of course capitalize on) the new sensation created by these great guys at ACED design called the Romphim. According to the guys at ACED Design

“[They] were sitting around over drinks one evening and got to talking about the men’s clothing options out there. Everything was either too corporate, too fratty, too runway, or too basic. Something was missing…[something] more stylish and fun without also sacrificing comfort, fit, and versatility? The more [they] thought about it, the more [they] realized that a romper hit all of these attributes”

Seems like a pretty rational thought for anyone looking to design a product right? Looking at the market they have the most knowledge of, assessing what is perceived as a missing asset or problem area, and finally crafting a solution that is believed to address said problems in a way that doesn’t create new ones; so why the backlash?

From the responses that I’ve been seeing especially from social-media outlets like Twitter and Facebook, the largest point of contention comes from the idea that a “romper is a woman’s outfit” and a “man has no business wearing women’s clothing.” On the surface, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that statement because according to the 1st Amendment we all have the right to speak freely. However, when we get into the actual validity of said statement, we find a major problem; what constitutes as men’s clothing and what constitutes as women’s clothing? Take the “blouse” for example. The blouse, according to the dictionary is a “a woman’s loose upper garment resembling a shirt, typically with a collar, buttons, and sleeves.”

Woman in Blouse

This has become the now accepted concrete description and association with the word “blouse”, the problem however is that according to the origin of the garment “it is french derived article of clothing used as a main staple for workmen, peasants, artists, children… and didn’t become a part of the fashionable woman’s wardrobe until the 1890's.”

Men in Blouses

When you do further research into the garment, you find that it had a very functional purpose for men in those times. It was lightweight, easily crafted, made of natural fabrics which made them applicable to multiple weather conditions, and the loose fitting blouse, especially around the arms, allowed for a wide range of movement for the man wearing it. When we actually study the garment, it was regarded as a shirt for a man as much as we consider a Stripped Gucci Oxford one. If all of this is true (which it is), then why don’t we see more menswear shirts with more “blouse” like elements to it’s design? Why is the static imagery of a shirt for a man a collard dress shirt? I get it, the Don Draper look definitely had it’s run as far as being the foundation of what a “Man” is supposed to dress like. It’s truly enticing being the top creative director of your Ad Agency while spending majority of your work day in and out of various women, bottles of alcohol, packs of cigarettes, and the occasional train ride home to the family you barely know, but that’s no longer the mark of aspiration for today’s male.

Don Draper (Mad Men)

The men of today are a lot less restricting in their way of viewing the world. The “boys don’t cry” and “Your manhood is defined by…” arguments are no longer the go to for defining oneself. Today, we have a more fluid outlook on what it means to be a man and whether you agree or disagree with the direction, the amount of creation and industry development that has come from such ways of thinking has greatly improved our scope of possibility. What the team over at ACED Designs managed to do with their Romphim campaign was bring to the forefront the new prevailing ideology of letting the form truly follow the function without the social constructs being attached to the product. The idea of creating an all in one garment that provides flexibility in movement and can be easily accented with various accessories doesn’t belong to women anymore than it belongs to men. It’s a product of smart design, and their success will be in pairing what with a wonderful marketing campaign. It’s about time menswear gets a refreshing new addition to what’s considered a staple piece and who knows, Romphim’s might just be it.