Paul Galvin: Don't skort around it
There's no escape from the influence of womenswear
The name is Long. James Long. To make a long story skort, we'll have to talk about him. He's the new go-to guy for ballsy menswear. He's been on my radar for a while, but now the context has arrived in which to discuss him.
There were lots of Longs back down the road from me when I was a young lad. There was a Jim Long and two Tom Longs. Ironically, the two Tom Longs were quite short in stature.
None of these Longs are related to James Long, I suspect.
James requires discussion at this point, though, to be sure. To discuss the matter in hand -- skorts -- we simply cannot skirt around the man pushing skorts for men.
As is the case in the fluid world of fashion, opposites often attract, opposing worlds collide, tribes go to war and rules break.
A skort is an amalgam of a skirt and shorts. A combination of sorts. Originally worn by girls, especially sportswomen, but no longer exclusively so.
Watching Wimbledon last week, I noticed many skorts are essentially skirts with shorts hidden underneath. In their truest sense, they more closely resemble a pair of shorts with a panel of fabric over the front.
Womenswear has never been more of an influence on menswear designers, and, by extension, menswear, and now we have further derivations and variations of shorts and skorts for men.
I welcome the influence, personally, for the fairer sex is inherently and intrinsically more stylish than the unfairer sex. So the more infiltration from womenswear, the more stylish we guys get to be.
Don't fight it, lads; embrace it as you would a stylish woman. That said, I don't see myself wearing a skort anytime soon.
James Long is a menswear designer out of the ordinary. His spring/summer 2013 collection is noteworthy for its references to womenswear and sportswear, plus his bold take on shorts and skirts.
I love this new departure. It's been brewing for a while. Paris and Milan runway shows in 2009 saw men in skirts. For London to start pushing the skort makes the trend a little more real.
David Beckham's sarong was headline news for all the sarong reasons. Kanye West has worn a skirt on stage.
James Long has looked to kung fu for his inspiration. The Kung Fu Cowboy inspired him. Man as gladiator. This makes the possibility of wearing a skort a little more palatable for men. We can claim to be getting in touch with our inner gladiator.
Leather is a fabric that's been on my mind a lot lately. I'm having leather panels and sleeves put on some jackets, tees and trousers. It's slowly being referenced and utilised in menswear outside of leather jackets.
Leather pants are on the way to the high street -- watch this shop window space. Sleeving on denim jackets and varsity jackets are an indication, and soon we'll see leather panels on jeans and T-shirts, followed by leather pants. Only the brave, as Diesel might say.
James Long is a big fan of leather. His aesthetic is bold and directional. Kung fu inspiration is reflected in the use of metallics, pleated skorts, strong shoulders and well-heeled, tough leather brogues. Strangely enough, it does look very masculine.
These skorts are knee length and billowy. They look as if they could harbour a sword and scabbard comfortably. You would need a certain walk to pull them off, though. And a look. Or, as Mike Skinner, put it, "a you-think-I-care stare".
Anyway, it got me to thinking. Will we ever see the day when a skort is part of our daily dress?
If you think about it, it's a very functional piece of clothing. Practical as well. Look at all the activities a man can comfortably do in a skort. There's gardening for a start. Many men love to garden. I'm not one of those men.
For me, there are only a select few activities that make skort wearing any way acceptable.
Any activity that involves fighting so as to counter the feminine factor and bring out the Russell Crowe in you.
Hand-to-hand combat, kung fu, karate, tae bo, tae-kwan-do, jutjitsu, sword fighting -- anything that involves fighting is the only way to justify it.
But there is one game above all others that is made for skort wearing. The ultimate man's game. Cowboys and Indians.
You just have to be the Indian.