Fashion

Forget The Sleazeball: 2020 Is The Year Of The Lotharibro

Switch a tie-dye summer for aristocratic carnality plucked straight from the Riviera.
IMAGE GETTY IMAGES
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For a time, to be aristocratic was to be uncool. Achingly so. Which is perhaps why last summer, cool kids the world over were imitating men with no airs and graces at all. These short-lived style icons wandered LA in flame shirts and sold novelty bongs and recorded mumbly rap records on which they recounted how they got their face tattoos. It was all very fun, partly because it felt a little bit mucky.

These men, always looking as though they might be sticky to the touch, went by many names. They were the 'scumbro' to some. The 'sleazeball' to others. Or simply 'Justin Bieber' to the rest of us. But in spring 2020, we're pouring one out for all those drug dealer bags and sweatpant shorts. Fashion's focus has shifted from West Hollywood to the Riviera, in the form of open-shirted sexiness. This is a man who spends his days drinking negronis at the harbor in Cannes, rather than warm Skol in London Fields. He is the 'lotharibro' and he's here's to steal your girlfriend.

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Amiri (left) and Jacquemus A/W ’20

Photo by GETTY IMAGES.
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Following a menswear month in which fashion took a step back toward the traditional, its understanding of sexiness has gone somewhat classic too. The lotharibro strikes a middle ground between the kind of silk-shirted man who does his flirting out the window of an Alfa Romeo, and the kind of Soundcloud rapper who does his flirting in the DMs. Last year, the biggest brands were about double-tappable menswear that scorched retinas and popped on Instagram (logoed hoodies, acid-print jean shorts, wash-in pink hair dye), but in 2020, they're looking to a more traditional definition of sexy. Silhouettes are a bit more polished, palettes more muted. These are clothes that look like they were selected deliberately from a hanger, rather than by sniff-test from a bedroom floor.

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The man inside the outfit is equally cared for. The lotharibro would never leave the house with a fluffy top lip – his mustache is of impressive luster and body. The lotharibro is also taut and tanned, though not in Love Island way. It's just that when you spend that much time playing polo, that's the body that gets built. He even understands the importance of a decent grooming regime, if only to hide the results of yet another late night with a minor European royal.

It's an exacting standard set by several brands following the A/W '20 shows – one of which was previously a catalyst for the sleazeball movement. Amiri, the eponymous label by Iranian-American designer Mike Amiri, once charmed the likes of Bieber and Big Sean with coruscating prints and ripped-up jeans. Now, it's cleaned up. The most recent Paris show was a turning point, which switched from sleazy distressing to structured shoulders, loose fits and shirting for the deck of your Sunseeker, rather than your murdered-out Maybach.

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Which brings us to man cleavage, the lotharibro's signature style detail (like its predecessor, this is a look low on fucks-given). But now that means refined, effortless and elegant, as models breezed down a runway of fresh white flowers in the pristine passages of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Scumbros don't walk those halls.

Acne Studios', for all its Scandi left-fieldism, also showed flashes of the lotharibro in an AI-designed collection, with one look bearing its bare chest beneath a smart, unbuttoned shirt, atop high-waisted trousers in a dazzling shade of white that Dickie Greenleaf would have been drawn to. Jacquemus was also in on the act, giving its burly, granite-jawed sexiness a relaxed feel. You don't need sunflower prints to grab romantic attention anymore (an earlier hit from the Jacquemus playbook): You can do the same with a billowing shirt in shades of taupe, tan, and tobacco.

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Richard Gere in 1980’s American Gigolo: the patron saint of lotharibros past

Photo by PARAMOUNT PICTURES.

This kind of lounge lizard with a Classics degree lives on the big screen, too. The Gentlemen, the new Guy Ritchie flick, sees Matthew McConaughey and co balance crime and high society in all kinds of lotharibro gear: Think tailored trousers and unbuttoned polo shirts, with the occasional glint of gold medallions nestled in chest hair. But the lotharibro has roots further back than that, says Mr Porter's style director, Olie Arnold. "There was a clear homage [this season] to Richard Gere in the Eighties classic, American Gigolo. Suits were swapped from traditional fabrics in favor of soft, boxy shapes, while silk shirts were styled in an unbuttoned, breezy way." Not all that different to a Plein Soleil-era Alain Delon, either.

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This might feel like a return to old ways of getting dressed, but there are new modes at play, too. For all the traditional ideas of masculinity the look embodies, it's undercut with a softness that makes it modern, with fabrics, shades, and silhouettes borrowed from womenswear. "It's all part of a noticeable shift as men are becoming more open with their image, adopting a freedom to experiment with their style," says Arnold. "The mood across all the shows felt optimistic and confident, and though this was classic menswear as a return, it was considered, and contemporary." The lotharibro, then, is a refresh of a familiar man – the new version of old masculinity, just without all the historic, noxious aversion to fashion's newfound fluidity. And it sells: Jacquemus posted revenues of almost $11m in 2018, and the brand's strain of Provençal prurience has grown bigger still.

Acne Studios A/W ’20

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Photo by VICTOR VIRGILE.

Of course, sleazeballs won't disappear overnight. But the weed-scented summer is transforming into one of resort-based carnal love: the sheet-ripping, heart-rending sort you'd find in a Jilly Cooper novel. On the surface, the lotharibro looks like the guy on the cover, who always picks up the bill but also always pays in cash. Is he avoiding a paper trail, or does he just have some notes left over from last night's charity auction (after all, ocean plastic is just so important)? Perhaps it doesn't matter. All you need to know is that if you smarten up the act, slick back your hair and chisel out a chest worth exposing, you too can be the kind of man Ms Cooper feared and fancied in equal measure. And maybe buy yourself a title. Tall, dark marquises are very in this season.

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This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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