Rethinking Menswear: Over-the-top Influencers Using Tiktok to Make Fashion More Inclusive

Body positivity has been in vogue for a while now, with more and more images of different body types advertising the clothes we buy. But whether you’re shopping on the high street or browsing online, when was the last time you saw a menswear ad featuring someone who doesn’t have a chiseled figure?

On TikTok, a small group of plus-size influencers are trying to make menswear more inclusive. They use platforms to call out different sizes and even break down the idea of ​​what menswear even is.

“There’s such an opportunity in the world of plus-size fashion that we should be more open, we should be more creative with clothes no matter what your body shape is,” said Nikhil Kapoor, a plus-size influencer.

“But it hasn’t changed to the extent that menswear is included.

Kapoor is a graduate student in law and science at Northwestern Law School in the United States. And between classes, he is also the creator of a clothing line called “Posh Heat” and an accompanying TikTok account with more than 226 thousand followers.

Both aim to “represent men’s and plus sizes in general” and show examples of how people can be creative with fashion and work around limited options.

Many of Kapoor’s videos focus on recreating the look he saw advertised on people with thinner bodies.

In one of their TikToks titled “When Oversized Men’s Fashion Pinterest**insp won’t escape’, Kapoor first shows the audience a picture of the model on Pinterest, then recreates it in his apartment.

In some, they are filmed while shopping and take viewers to the store. And in others, she creates outfits for specific events, whether it’s a school orientation, a night out or a fancy dinner.

But the general idea in almost all of his videos is that he and the audience can wear cute clothes that make them happy, regardless of what they can easily find in stores.

“[Menswear in stores usually go] up to extra, extra large. And if you’re looking for something around that, three X’s or four X’s or five X’s, you’re kind of screwed at that point because you don’t really have a lot of options,” Kapoor told Euronews Culture.

He added that there are also limited “cute” options in the plus-size menswear sections.

Instead, when shopping in person, they usually head straight for the plus-size women’s clothing section and the “special sale” section.

“It’s virtually impossible to buy clothes and you’re at a point where you’re kind of forced to go to the plus size section if you want regular clothes.”

He claims that he buys around 90% of the clothes in his wardrobe from the womenswear section.

The oversized fashion market is growing, and experts predict it will jump from around €461 billion in 2019 to €669 billion in 2027, according to a report by Allied Market research.

However, according to Jacqueline Windsor, who specializes in the retail fashion industry for PwC, the market for women’s plus size clothing is larger than the market for men’s clothing.

This is because the market for women’s clothing is larger than the market for men’s clothing in general, and it is not just a “plus-size phenomenon”.

“In the overall apparel market, women’s is bigger than men’s,” she said.

“I would say the same is true for plus-size, but there are several reasons for that. For example, women tend to have a higher frequency of purchases per year than men.

“So it’s never going to be equal representation on the high street.” But having said that, I think the male market is underserved.”

The consequence of this imbalance is that there aren’t many options for the likes of Kapoor in the menswear section.

And he’s not the only one using TikTok to try to talk about it or try to make menswear more inclusive.

Like Kapoor, Mina Gerges is a Canadian influencer who has focused much of her content on activism and fashion.

“Shopping as a plus-size guy is always such a difficult task because you walk into a mall and there are so few sizes available for bigger guys, and then the sizes available are usually uglier clothes, like regular t-shirts. Everything is clear,” Gerges told Euronews Culture.

“And if you’re like me and like to try new things and like to dress a little racy, you’re kind of in the dark.”

Gerges has been talking about plus-size fashion for almost a decade. In 2015, when he was a student, he posted a series of photos on Instagram that replicated the looks of pop divas.

He has since become the first plus-size pit crew member on RuPaul’s Drag Race, the widely successful show where drag queens compete for a cash prize.

In the show, the pit crew help out with the skits and are models on set, usually topless. The show was on TV for eleven years before Mina joined it as its first plus-size crew member.

“I think one of the most meaningful moments of my career was [Canada’s Drag Race]” he said.

“I’ll always remember walking into the fitting room and being surrounded by 30 other men who were all really skinny and much more muscular than me… I was the only person who had a different body type than everyone else.” at that moment it made me go crazy.

“I think we have such a limiting idea of ​​what it means to be body confident as a man. You must not be confident in your skin unless you are extremely muscular and have a six pack.

“And I think that’s such a harmful thought. And I’ve worked hard to redefine that…I love my body. I feel confident in it. And I don’t need a six-pack to feel that confidence.”

Gerges is also on TikTok talking about oversized menswear. In several of his videos, he recreates clothes and outfits that he thinks are cute but can’t find in his size.

In one of his recent videos, he recreated Kim Kardashian’s famous Balenciaga belt look with a corset and mean belt.

In another, he created pants with an image of a Greek statue printed on them by painting a similar image on a pair of white pants.

And in others, he styles his own plus-size clothes that he made.

“There is a very different type of community on TikTok than on Instagram. I found that there is such a huge community on TikTok of people who are like you, who are trying to figure things out and who want to feel confident and look to you for advice,” he said.

“The community on Instagram is very diverse. You almost brag about the things you do on Instagram.”

And like Kapoor, she also shops in the menswear and womenswear section.

“I think the advice I have for someone who wants to shop in the menswear section but can’t find the right clothes is to expand their idea of ​​what clothes are and what menswear is.”

“I think I’ve learned that clothes are just fabric. It doesn’t matter if you buy it in the men’s or women’s section.”

According to Windsor, this flexibility is beginning to be reflected in the wider apparel market. And many younger people also shop across gender lines, blurring the lines of what is and isn’t menswear or womenswear.

“I think especially with millennials, Generation Z, Generation Alpha, it’s a little bit more fluid between how people identify and what clothes they wear,” Windsor said.

“I was talking to a high fashion menswear aggregator. And they found that 20% of their consumer base is women buying menswear for themselves.”

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