How a new generation is challenging masculinities and redefining identities

Man removing clay mask from face
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Oct 20, 2021 By WGSN Insider

The wider concept of gender identity has altered in the public consciousness over the past decade, with a more positive understanding that gender is fluid and not binary. Similarly, masculinity is being reshaped; rather than a hackneyed set of stereotypes, it’s now viewed as a spectrum.

More recently, the Covid-19 crisis has compounded changes across society. This has been powered by the internet and social media, which has given voice to LGBTQ+ communities and activists. What can brands targeting this progressive generation of male consumers make of this? Join our experts as we discuss the concept of masculinity within the consumer landscape and what this means for brands and the trends of tomorrow.

The contemporary role model

“Masculinity is a very broad spectrum. Traditionally, male role models have been in sport and music – that’s still the case, but in the last 15 to 20 years, influencer culture has emerged and you have this new generation of role models. The softboy, gentle masculinity aesthetic is emerging and you can be influenced by this even if geographically you’re not close to it. Looking beyond the internet into mainstream culture, attitudes to gender are changing and that’s impacting the way men see themselves.”
– Joe McDonnell, Head of WGSN Insight

Man lying in a field of daisies
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Nurturing masculinity 

“During the pandemic, men have been able to take time away from the pack mentality. They started to make their own decisions and new trends emerged. Gardening and an appreciation of nurturing life has become Instagrammable. It could be baking, any of these things which might have been perceived as showing vulnerability before, are now the very things that are cool. Brands that position themselves outside of those really tired men's tropes are interesting right now.”
Nick Paget, Senior Strategist, Menswear, WGSN Fashion

Man holding a tray of pastries
Gustavo Fring/Pexels

Beyond gender stereotypes

“In general people are beginning to understand that self-care is really important for mental wellness and health. Bro bathing is about men recognising the benefits of a long luxurious soak in the bath with face masks, etc. For beauty brands, it’s very much about communicating the functional and physical benefits of products. Everybody wants to look and feel their best, but it’s about breaking the stigmas around how men go about achieving that.”
 Annie Johnstone, Analyst, WGSN Beauty

To hear the full discussion tune in to Episode 31 of our Create Tomorrow podcast, Challenging Masculinities – Redefining Identities, on Anchor, Apple and Spotify.

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