Skip to content Skip to footer

Mauve Men: How Jay-Z inspired more soft tones in menswear

“I like that pink, man!”

A spectator utters at the January 2020 Roc Nation brunch. Jay-Z turns and corrects the voice as he ‘dust his shoulder off’;

It’s mauve, bro.

Possibly the highest level of stunting we’ve seen from Hov in a while. He’s got the color game down too.

JayZ at Roc Nation brunch, January 2020. Paper Mag
JayZ at Roc Nation brunch, January 2020. Paper Mag.

The flamboyance of radiant, bright colors has been associated with feminine attire for as far as traditions go.

But since the early 2000s, through the bold choices of rappers like Cam’ron and Fat Joe who decided to wear pink and make a fashion statement, have broadened the idea of a masculine wardrobe.

More than just a salmon-colored button-down shirt to complement your suits, the ‘pink-polo’ era solidified masculinity as a catalyst for change – at least when it comes to drip – where “real men wear pink.”

Even more contrasting, women have taken to more solid, darker, neutral, and earth tones, something you can see in the Scandi girl style aesthetic.

A minimalist style of dress, it takes on masculine tailoring in boxy suit jackets with wide-leg pants, formally of our father’s closet.

Cecilie Thorsmark, CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week in Scandi girl attire.
Cecilie Thorsmark, CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week in Scandi girl attire. GETTY.

Most to do with a muted look but accentuated with sturdy fabric, the cut of the clothing, and how the garments draped over the body. The particular wearer is usually engulfed in material, but chic and fitting nonetheless.

Men have been wearing softer colors more than ever. Thanks to menswear designers,  the male body has been envisioned in softer tones and delicate materials.

Away from dark, charred leathers, heavy deep blue denim, nylons, and anything that absorbs sunlight. That aesthetic has been shared and passed on to the girlfriends.

Designers like Kim Jones, Cahraf Tajer, Simon Port Jacquemus, and Virgil Abloh, have induced a color palette that dilutes the a-typical masculine look we are used to.

Florals, mosaics, color blocking, and illustrious print design have dominated the heat coming down the runway.

Designers are over with the average suit, over hard denim, and opting for playful ideas. Adult fun is sewn into serious clothing and play on the irony of hyper-masculinity.

Men today are more open to floral and mosaic patterns. Softer, more neutral tones are welcomed. Bright hues on delicate fabrics are ushered in through storytelling of designers, reflecting on simpler days well before the 2020 pandemic craze.

This is something designer Simon Port Jacquemus referenced for his Spring-Summer 2020 Paris Fashion Week runway show in the lilac fields in France and used to a similar scene following.

For his SS 2021 show, he presented in a French wheat field. Where the beige and khaki earth tones of the landscape were reflected in the clothing.

Colors: light blue, mauve, carnation, powder blue, sky blue, baby blue, seafoam blue, pumpkin, tangerine, beige, khaki, mustard, banana, mulberry, hibiscus, violet, imperial, fire brick, lime, and other shades adjacent; have graced collections for men.

Luxury brands like Jacquemus, Rhude, Pyer Moss, Casablanca, MSGM, Louis Vuitton, and Dior have all play the game of tones with softer hues. Or even brighter hues with refined fabrics and manufacturing that are familiar with luxury menswear.

Alessandro Michele took over Gucci as the creative director in 2015 and brought floral-design to the surface of streetwear and menswear alike.

Adding floral embroidery not only to suiting, Michele applied the design to washed blue denim and tennis sneakers and proved that menswear needed to breed life. The trend flourished on social media and Gucci’s stock rose.

Gucci embroidered denim jacket with shearling. GUCCI.

Even Rick Owens has included pink into his seasons’ neo-goth aesthetic. The all-black Goth-God has included a somber fire brick tone and traditional a pink color into his SS 2021 collection.

Items like a sandal-boot, tank tops, shorts, and shiny pink, and yellow, Tecuatl shoe poke fun at the dark-wear the brand is worshipped for.

Charaf Tajer of Casablanca, out of Paris, has doubled down on classic tennis vibes of the upper class. Tajer has influences of places like Miami and the Hamptons in the seams of his luxury streetwear brand, not to mention the allure of french coastlines.

Charaf Tajer, founder of Casablanca. @charaftajer.

Since 2018, Tajer has created a Versace-Esque aesthetic through mosaic design, disco-tailored garments, and relaxed, fitted clothing. Casablanca collections are overwhelmed with tones that glow throughout the day and that separates his brand from most others.

No need to fear the color palette like men once did. And no need to go back to 4XL tees, pink fur coat and custom matching pink Air Force 1s, like Cam’ron, made hot famously at New York Fashion Week in 2002.

The color has been made official by ‘Killa’ and Pantone since 2016, properly named “killa pink.”

Cam’ron during NYFW in 2002. Dazed Digital.

Ideally, embrace your feminine side when deciding your colors for the day. And don’t be shy as to the colors you like the most, just be confident. With all the drama happening in the world, it’s a courtesy to yourself, one worth brightening up your day.

Look out for this article on PAGE magazine.