Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign aiming to start a “fashion revolution,” male rompers have taken center stage in the conversation around what men will won’t be wearing this summer.
The phrase ‘male romper’ seemingly wasn’t masculine enough, so RompHip—coined by the founders of ACED Design (Alex, Chip, Elaine, and Daniel)—was born. The design, according to the campaign, is guaranteed to “turn heads and break hearts” all while keeping fragile masculinity intact (thanks to terrible wordplay apparently aimed at making uber bros feel comfortable).
Hilarious commentary on Twitter and unfortunately ahistorical headlines have been cropping up all over the internet, from “Someone Invented A Male Romper Because Of Course They Did” to “The Male Romper Is The Next Big Fashion Trend.”
“I personally love a romper for women, and we were looking for something different that didn’t already exist for guys. Daniel here was a little tired of wearing the same button down and pants so we got to talking about why we couldn’t build a better product and make a romper available for men that’s cool and fun and different and is a conversation starter at the end of the day,” one of the founders Elaine told GQ.
Well, here’s the thing: Male rompers (which I’ve used five times already and will have to say even more) already exist. Sure, the ACED Design Team might have created shitty pastel ones with bad tailoring and an even more terrible name, but men wearing rompers has been a trend since the ‘60s and ‘70s—and there are much more flattering ones to choose from.
On their website, ACED wondered: “Why wasn’t there anything out there that allowed guys to be more stylish and fun without also sacrificing comfort, fit and versatility? The more we thought about it, the more we realized the romper hit all these attributes—it’s unique fashionable, cool and very wearable. But there was still one thing a romper didn’t have: a widely available version for men. So we set out to fix that.”
Again, this is just not true—so let’s talk about the rompers than men have already been wearing instead.
The most well-known male romper in pop culture was worn by Sean Connery as James Bond (Goldfinger) in a terrycloth blue onesie in Miami Beach in 1964. ‘70s shopping catalogs then started to advertise various options for men with some more coverall-like options, some more like onesies, and even versions with shorts. The trend could be seen on pop stars from Elvis to David Bowie to literally way too many people on Soul Train. Yet, most of these fits were more in the form of a polyester flares and pastels jumpsuit than the short-set romper we’re referencing today. And, we can’t forget the moment in the late ’90s when hip hop took Dickies’ workwear coveralls and made them a fashion statement.
Before the trend became a Twitter discussion for Americans, the style was seen on men in Japan, Korea as well as Africa. In South Africa in the ’90s, groups within the Kwaito sub-culture (a music style, a dance style and an aesthetic) were known for kicking off the trend of men wearing bright and colorful jumpsuits. Engineered Garments, a Japanese brand inspired by American workwear, showed “male rompers” on the runway for their Spring 2016 collection. Mr. Gentleman, another Japanese menswear brand, had male models walk the runway in everything from puffer coat inspired rompers to trench coat inspired iterations on their Fall 2015 show.
In a 2012 interview with The Daily Beast, Collezioni fashion editor Decio Vitali said “Rompers are a new way of producing fashion for men,” after the Spanish brand showed Davidelfin in their collection. That same year, American designer Michael Bastian and Parisian brand Jean Paul Gaultier did the same. More recently, brands like Rick Owens, Versace, Thom Browne, Gucci, Lafaille, Ports 1961, and Juun J. have all designed rompers specifically for men. It could be argued that these fits weren’t “too corporate…too fratty…too “runway”…or too basic” as claimed by the creators of RompHim, but maybe a little too fashion-forward for men who wear boat shoes and aren’t comfortable just using the term romper.
In truth, none of this even matters. Why? Because RompHim has raised over $100,000 dollars on Kickstarter exceeding their $10,000 dollar goal. No matter how ahistorical, gender condescending or, most importantly, terribly designed, RompHim is—it’s happening. On the upside, the creators included a “zipper fly” in the design, so at least you can pee in them.
BY TAHIRAH HAIRSTON