10 Guys Who Are Pushing The Boundaries Of Modern Men's Style

Photo credit: Getty
Photo credit: Getty

From Esquire UK

Every year-every season, really-has its own set of menswear trends. From skinny jeans to pocket squares to drapey, unstructured coats: even within the relatively staid confines of menswear, plenty of styles come and go. But right now, one trend that really stands out isn't so much a style as it is a sartorial philosophy. Basically, it's the idea that menswear doesn't need to evolve; it needs a full-scale revolution.

For most of the last hundred years or so, men have lived within a fairly narrow framework of dress. Whether it's fit, color, fabric, or cut, the variety involved with men's clothing pales in comparison to that of womenswear. But a growing number of men are starting to change all of that.

Guys like Pharrell Williams, Jaden Smith, and Jared Leto are not only challenging the status quo, they're pushing the boundaries of what we've long considered to be "proper" men's attire. Whether it's blurring gender lines, embracing maximalism, or simply reimagining shapes and color palettes, these guys are radically redefining modern men's fashion. And whether you like each one's personal style or not, this is a good thing. Not only does it open up a wealth of new styling options, it also challenges many of our antiquated notions about masculinity. And to celebrate that fact, here are the 10 guys who are doing the most to expand the limits of menswear in 2017.

Pharrell Williams

Pharrell's transformation into a true style icon has been fascinating to watch. He's always been a stylish guy-the type who has that magic ability to make a simple T-shirt and jeans Instagram-worthy-but over the last couple of years he's gotten a lot more daring. From playing with proportions and color to introducing elements more traditionally associated with womenswear-like the beaded jewelry in the photo above, which, courtesy of Karl Lagerfeld, comes straight from the archives of Coco Chanel-Williams has shown that the only real limit to men's fashion is a person's imagination.

Jared Leto

Thanks in large part to his pal Alessandro Michele, Leto has become one of the biggest proponents of today's maximalist style. And while it shares some DNA with '70s maximalism, this version hews much closer to the sartorial flair of a more distant past-like Beau Brummell's Regency court or even the days of Louis XIV. Think bright colors, exotic fabrics, ornamental embroidery, and layer upon layer of contrasting textures. Thanks to guys like Leto, the drab 20th Century notion that menswear should be staid and respectable rather than creative and attention-getting has been flipped on its head.

Alessandro Michele

The architect behind so many of today's best dressed guys-Tom Hiddleston, Harry Styles, and of course Jared Leto, just to name a few-Michele has almost singlehandedly brought back the idea that it's OK for men to dress to get attention. But he's doing it in a way that's not so much about peacocking as it is about using clothes to celebrate beauty. Be it in cut or fabric or ornamentation, Michele is encouraging men to aggressively expand their sartorial imagination. And to do it with utter disregard to any anachronistic notions of gender. After all, who says a man can't look good in a pink pussy bow shirt.

Harry Styles

Case in point on the pussy bow. For the last couple of years, Harry Styles has existed as a perfect incarnation of whatever's going on inside the head of Hedi Slimane. With skinny black jeans, high heeled boots, and billowy floral shirts, Styles mastered the sort of androgynous rocker look that we haven't seen since Axl Rose's salad days. And now, as he's transitioning into a grown-up solo artist, he's also expanding his sartorial palette to include a healthy dose of Michele's Gucci. With his keen eye for fashion and a sartorial fearlessness, it's a good bet that Styles will become a serious style icon in the years to come. (No pun intended. Seriously.)

Luka Sabbat

Luka Sabbat is basically the teenager that we all wish we could be (or could have been, for the olds). Dude doesn't have to worry about where he ranks among the jocks and cheerleaders in the high school pecking order. He's too busy winging off to Paris to sit front row at Rick Owen's latest show. And it's partly that high-flying lifestyle that's allowed him to push his look into more experimental terrain. He's basically become a walking incubator for the confluence of street style and high fashion. If you're wondering what the future of menswear will look like, it wouldn't be a bad idea to check in on this kid's Instagram now and then.

Kanye West

When it comes to fashion, Kanye West is clearly a man who's not afraid to try new things. From high-heeled boots to leather kilts to giant bear coats, Ye likes to mix things up, at least when it comes to his personal wardrobe. While not everything lands, the simple fact is, for rethinking the boundaries of menswear, he is always a guy who is worth watching.

Young Thug

Last year, Young Thug appeared on the cover of his mixtape No, My Name is Jeffrey in a dress. It was actually the second time the Atlanta rapper publicly donned womenswear. The first was for a Calvin Klein campaign in which he stated, "In my world, of course, it don't matter. You could be a gangster with a dress. Or you could be a gangster with baggy pants. I don't feel like it's no such thing as gender." This is the sort of thinking menswear needs right now. We've basically been wearing some version of the same thing for the last 200 years. It's time to get out of that rut.

Jaden Smith

Jaden Smith is another young guy who's doing well to erode our antiquated notions of gender norms. So much so, in fact, that Louis Vuitton creative director Nicolas Ghesquiere picked him to star in his Spring 2016 womenswear ad campaign. But Smith is a lot more than just a kid in a dress. With his keen eye for shape, color, and proportion, he's become a serious force in the world of fashion, one who isn't afraid to push the envelope.

Justin Bieber

The Biebs has certainly had some interesting style moments over the years. Crop tops, fur coats, ultra-skinny drop-crotch jeans. But credit where credit is due-he's going places, sartorially speaking, that most men would fear to tread. And whether it lands or not is really beside the point. Because what may look weird now could very well be the trend of tomorrow. So keep those high-heeled boots, crop tops, and fur coats handy, because you never really know which one of them could blow up next.

A$AP Rocky

Much like Jared Leto and Alessandro Michele, A$AP Rocky is a throwback to a time when men weren't afraid to add a little (or a lot) of embellishment to their wardrobe. Certainly King Louis XIV would be proud. But the great thing about A$AP is his sartorial dexterity. He can move from classic '90s hip-hop street style, to punk rock Dior, to '70s-meets-Wes-Anderson Gucci, to full-on health goth without skipping a beat. While most guys stick to a basic uniform of style, Rocky shows you that the real possibilities of a man's wardrobe are endless.

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