This has been the year of headlines you never thought you’d see, the kind of pronouncements you’d expect on parody news site The Onion. The US president calling a woman “a dog” on social media, Kim Kardashian advising said president on prison reform, and now this particular nugget: Meghan Markle’s father, is reportedly launching a men’s clothing range. What a time to be alive.
Thomas Markle, never backward at coming forward where the media is concerned, is apparently making his fashion debut, according to his equally publicity-shy other daughter Samantha, who tweeted about it on Wednesday. Quite what qualifies the 74-year-old to design men’s clothes I don’t know; perhaps he hides a talent for knowing the finer details of a double-breasted notch lapel.
Celebrity – and I use the word not so much loosely as stretched to the most elastic proportions – dads embarking on fashion ranges has become part of the men’s fashion landscape, to varying degrees of success. One of the most stratospheric is David Beckham’s brand, Kent & Curwen.
Beckham helped revive this historic house – founded in the Twenties as a sporting outfitter – and alongside some serious fashion clout (the brand shrewdly hired the former men’s designer at Alexander McQueen) it has a staggering following in Asia.
Then there’s Liam Gallagher, whose own label Pretty Green boasts 13 UK shops. The business reported a £1 million loss last December, but despite that it has a cult following among millennials for its Mod-influenced aesthetic and heavy dose of Nineties Gallagher brothers’ attitude. And lest we forget Kanye West’s baby/vanity project Yeezy, a range of (sell-out) sportswear that apes the rapper’s style.
It’s easy to discount such endeavours as money-spinners, but what it also nods to is a changing attitude to how men in their 40s and beyond dress. Just as Madonna, who turned 60 yesterday, has redefined how older women should dress (and so much more), men like Beckham are shifting the goalposts in how men post-40 can hold themselves.
High-fashion catwalks have toyed with “dad core” in recent years, with polo shirts, aged denim and nondescript blazers, all of which is a tad insulting to the 40-plus guy who doesn’t tow this particular fashion line.
Instead, dad style these days – as demonstrated by Beckham – is about classics with personality; jeans but straight-legged instead of slouchy, a shirt but with a button-down collar and fine details instead of standard plaid, a bomber jacket in lieu of any sort of military/utility affair. Men in their 40s are more health-conscious than ever, so style with a youthful vim – bomber jackets, trainers, lean silhouettes – is entirely appropriate rather than desperate.