If you’re lamenting this loss of rules in the wardrobe department, it’s not just TikTok and Gen Z – the internet at large is to blame. Nowadays, the most interesting conversations around male fashion happen on a global scale on social media, and the ones with the most traction are defined by their terminally unserious approach to the subject. “Your ex is having sex with someone else and you’re posting about Engineered Garments aircrew fatigues,” a recent meme on Throwing Fits quipped.
Mr Mark Boutilier, a prominent content creator famous for his tongue-in-cheek commentary on menswear, mostly posts a mixture of fit pics and fashion advice. But he gets the most engagement from his followers when he’s making jokes. In a recent TikTok video, he looks at the camera and says, “Let’s talk about the brand history of Balenciaga,” before pretending to read the brand’s Wikipedia page, butchering the founder’s name (Cristobal) to “Crystal Balls”, then finishing off with “They, uhh, made the Sock Runner”. It’s light-hearted fun, and Boutilier is a master at creating in-jokes that will resonate for anyone with an interest in fashion, busting the traditionally preening “fashion influencer” trope open to create content that is genuinely fun to engage with.
“The fashion-creator realm is so big at this point that regurgitated brand history videos and surface-level videos are not something that hold much impact,” he says. Instead, the Atlanta-based creator has built his own personal brand on being the class joker. His most recent hit has been a thrifted T-shirt he found, emblazoned with “Boner King” in a parody of the Burger King logo. “I always want to keep things fresh and keep people guessing,” he says.
In other words, menswear right now values something much harder to cultivate than style: a sense of humour. Good clothes don’t just need to look good anymore, they also need a point. Or – even better – a punchline.