The Romper Craze Is Certainly Entertaining, But It Isn’t New At All…
Men in rompers…it’s a movement.
Did you wake up one week ago to your Facebook and Instagram feed overrun with photos, posts, and memes showcasing men wearing male rompers, Bro rompers, Public onesies, short jumpsuits or yes, RompHims? Were you shocked by this? Did you immediately rush to your mobile phone and make an Amazon Prime purchase? Or, were you mortified into sheer disgust? No matter what your response was, it’s important to not look at this as an isolated fad, but rather the continuation of a decades-long trend that, in having roots as far back as the 1970s, certainly proves that everything old is new again.
The “RompHim” was launched as a $10,000 Kickstarter design project on Monday, May 15 by ACED Design, a suburban Chicago group whose are a self-described “group of business school friends who decided to try to bring something new to menswear.” Creating a mix and match of press clippings from outlets including Vogue, GQ, Esquire, Elle, CNN, USA Today and more, the “RompHim” is a “super fun and super fresh,” “comfortable and fashionable” fashion-forward look for those who have a “certain zest for life” and want to “[overthrow] the old order of men’s fashion” with this summer-ready look.
However, for as “modern” as the “RompHim” may seem, the romper-as-fashion has a much longer history, that, when thinking about how a garment typically worn by women has been popularly worn by men, it says a lot about where pop culture is right now and where it could be headed in the future.
The romper itself has been around since the 1900s, gaining initial popularity playwear for younger children because people thought they were ideal for ease of movement in children. By the 1950s, the garment had become fashionable for women as leisure and beachwear, and by the 1970s, the garment was made for casual and everyday wear, leading us to the modern day.
The romper’s attractiveness as leisure wear is what’s most important here. Intriguingly, 2017 isn’t the only time that men have worn rompers in American pop culture. Moreover, it’s when leisure was big business — namely in the disco loving 1970s, house and hip-hop loving 1990s, and festival-loving 2010s — that the romper (or variations on romper-like fashions) have gained in popularity. Apparently, when men want to relax when relaxing becomes an industry, the first thing that men do is attach their shirts to their shorts, and add a zipper from the fly to the neck for good measure.
In the 1970s, it wasn’t uncommon to see men on disco dancefloors worldwide wearing dressy, polyester, and pants-length jumpsuits. As well, there’s a definite link between the romper craze and the similarly adored by women and children overall craze that was men wearing jean overalls while raving or say, listening to Bell Biv Devoe sing “Poison” in the 1990s. Noting that the press for the aforementioned “RompHim” includes CNN calling it a “devil-may-care garment for young men with an abundance of money and/or self confidence,” and mention of “boat trips” and “Australian winter” (American summer) activities, this is definitely a reaction to a festival crazed male 18-34 demographic looking for something fun-loving and fanciful to occupy their time before shuffling off to the nearest open field.
Yes, very soon — likely as soon as Amazon Prime or your nearest favorite e-outlet can fulfill your order — men worldwide will be wearing collared short-suits. We live in an era where there’s everything from people driving recklessly in Times Square and any great number of social ills occurring on a daily basis. Maybe this once-more embrace of dancing and generally enjoying the lighter side of life via well, a man-romper, is exactly what’s necessary to keep things fun.