Although we’re less than a week into the New Year, we’re already being hit with our first “It’s 2016, and we’re STILL talking about this?” news of the year— that is, the cultural event of fashionable teen and pop culture demigod Jaden Smith wearing a skirt.
The 17-year-old is the new face of French fashion label Louis Vuitton’s Spring ’16 womenswear collection and while most of the coverage surrounding the images was positive, sadly—predictably—part of the Internet (read: trolls) lost its shit and in the worst way.
The past year in fashion has been an examination of androgyny and gender-bending—from Gucci’s unisex runways during both its womenswear and menswear shows to Hood by Air’s high heels and flowing maxiskirts at its menswear show and the high influx of female models walking the runways at men’s fashion week.
Plus, Kanye West wore a Givenchy kilt during a concert in 2012, Rapper Young Thug wore a sheer dress in a Dazed editorial, Jared Leto wore a skirt with a bright blue blazer to the iHeartRadio Music Awards in 2014, and Marc Jacobs sported a sheer lace Comme des Garçons dress to the 2012 Met Gala—the list could go on and on, and these are only men that we’ve been tracking on the red carpet.
And yet, despite all these instances, when a 17-year-old who identifies as male is the face of a womenswear campaign, we’re still faced with the question of why he’s wearing a skirt. Why the hell not? Women have worn—and have been applauded—for wearing men’s clothing, and similarly, adopting traditionally masculine “qualities” like climbing the corporate ladder for decades because our society values masculinity.
But if a male wears a skirt, a clothing item generally associated with femininity in the Western world, it’s met with derision, ridicule, and general fascination; heaven forbid the reactions if he overtly exhibited stereotypical “female” personality traits. Fashion, it seems, often a counter space for alternative expression, still can’t seem to escape the patriarchy.
Jaden, for his part, seems to be taking it all in stride—at least according to his most recent Instagram snap, where he thanked Louis Vuitton and Nicolas Ghesquiere for this “opportunity to impact the world.”
Let’s not forget this isn’t the first time the teen has worn womenswear (or as he likes to call them, “clothes”)—and hopefully it won’t be his last.