While growing up in America, there was this common assumption that most men simply did not take interest in fashion; whether out of fear of being ostracized, emasculated, or because of genuine disinterest, the basic “jeans and a t-shirt” look was the everyday ensemble. But, alas, times are changing. People are beginning to realize that neither clothes nor interests should be gendered.
The reality is that there are so many interesting trends happening in men’s fashion right now, especially in Xi’an. It’s not unusual to walk down the street and see fashion-forward men; men in trench coats paired with leather brogues; men in well-tailored suits; men mismatching patterns and colors. Not only is it refreshing to see, but it suggests that more and more men are taking pride in their appearances and delving into the fashion world, regardless of a culture that is still heavily invested in the gender binary.
The first time I met Zhang Fan, I was immediately drawn to his style. He wore a skinny neck tie, a pair of nice black pants and Stan Smith Adidas shoes. He told me he owned a small men’s clothing store called RoY.chang located in 百汇市场 and asked me to come check it out. My boyfriend and I were impressed the first time around, and we’ve made a point to pay his store a visit whenever we have a little extra spending money.
As soon as I had the opportunity to write a men’s fashion article, I knew Zhang Fan was the guy to see. With the help of my friend Vivian Chloe Zhang, Zhang Fan sat down with me to answer a few questions I had about men’s fashion:
L: What excites you about men’s fashion?
Z: I like the fact that different people have different tastes. For me, I really like the fashion trends I see out of Japan and Korea, which is definitely more casual. But you know, my style changes all the time. I like to dress according to how I feel. If I’m feeling more relaxed, I’ll wear something comfortable, like a loose sweater. If I want to dress up, I’ll wear a nice suit.
L: What current trends have you noticed in men’s fashion?
Z: I look for trends in magazines. A lot of men like mixing patterns and colors right now. Really long trench coats are also great for the winter. But something as simple as a blazer, nice-fitted cropped jeans, and some tennis shoes always makes for a great outfit.
L: Where do you look for fashion inspiration?
Z: I can find inspiration from clothes I already have. I’m a shoe guy. I can build an entire outfit around a pair of shoes I really like. I’ll stylize my outfit so that my shoes are the main focus. It’s about finding really great pieces and finding ways to highlight them.
L: Can you recommend other great clothing stores for men in Xi’an?
Z: You can find great clothing stores all around Xi’an. But I highly recommend the second floor of 百汇市场. After all, this area has attracted famous people because the fashion is so good here.
L: What would you say to men who feel uncomfortable taking fashion risks?
Z: Just be confident in yourself. If you see something you wouldn’t normally wear, try it on any-way. If you have self-confidence, it’s going to translate to how well you wear your clothes.
L: Are there any trends in China that you’ve seen spread to other parts of the world?
Z: Yeah, of course the Qi Pao for women’s fashion. For men, dress shirts with a “mao collar” have become really popular abroad.
L: Lastly, I’ve noticed that your store mostly attracts Chinese men, so the sizes may be on the smaller side. Is that a problem for foreigners who want to visit your store?
Z: Not at all. I’m happy to order larger sizes if necessary.
As I left RoY.chang, I couldn’t help but feel optimistic about the direction of men’s fash-ion. My conversation with Zhang Fan provided me with a new perspective on men’s fashion that I didn’t have before, which is this: There are so many options in the ever-growing world of men’s fashion that allow you to individualize your style. At the end of the day, fashion is first and fore-most about expressing yourself. I would encourage both men and women to take a fashion risk; buy an article of clothing that strikes you as interesting, but wouldn’t pick up because it doesn’t suit your current style. Wear it and own it! After all, as Zhang Fan seemed to sum up perfectly, “If you have self-confidence, it’s going to translate to how well you wear your clothes.”
RoY.chang’s address: 西安市长安中路小寨百汇市场二楼五排二十六号