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birth of hybrid man

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PARIS (AFP) - Macho man is an endangered species, with today's male more likely to opt for a pink flowered shirt and swingers' clubs than the traditional role as family super-hero, fashion industry insiders say.

A study along these lines led by French marketing and style consultants Nelly Rodi was unveiled to Fashion Group International during a seminar Tuesday on future strategy for the fashion industry in Europe.

"The masculine ideal is being completely modified. All the traditional male values of authority, infallibility, virility and strength are being completely overturned," said Pierre Francois Le Louet, the agency's managing director.

Instead today's males are turning more towards "creativity, sensitivity and multiplicity," as seen already in recent seasons on the catwalks of Paris and Milan.

Arnold Schwarznegger and Sylvester Stallone are being replaced by the 21st-century man who "no longer wants to be the family super-hero", but instead has the guts to be himself, to test his own limits.

"We are watching the birth of a hybrid man. ... Why not put on a pink-flowered shirt and try out a partner-swapping club?" asked Le Louet, stressing that the study had focused on men aged between 20 and 35.

Sociologists and other experts spent three months analyzing some 150 magazines and books and 146 Internet sites, as well as interviewing a dozen experts from Europe, the United States and China.

The traditional man still exists in China, Le Louet said, and "is not ready to go". But in Europe and the United States, a new species is emerging, apparently unafraid of anything.

"He is looking for a more radical affirmation of who he is, and wants to test out all the barbarity of modern life" including in the sexual domain, said Le Louet, adding that Reebok with its "I am what I am" campaign had perfectly tapped into this current trend.

The emergence of this new male beast who wants to look and feel good, and who will also have an impact on the role of women, presages a new potentially lucrative market for the European fashion industry.

"All those labels which have adapted to this freedom of expression are on the up, all those which are too rigid will suffer in the future," Le Louet said, pointing to the growing success of sports and casual wear manufacturers.

Europe's economic downturn and stiff competition from China have left the industry -- which accounts for 7.0 percent of employment across the     European Union or some 2.7 million jobs with an annual turnover of 230 billion euros -- in the doldrums.

The EU has already stepped in with new initiatives and with an aid package to support small and medium enterprises, particularly in the field of technical textiles.

But the search for new markets is also driving research to profile the new European consumer -- the theme of the debate held by Fashion Group, which unites some 6,000 fashion industry professionals.

The answer is not simple, as culture and changing demographics make it hard to pin down the typical European, especially with the growing population of elderly.

But even though society is changing, Jean-Pierre Fourcat, a director with consultants Sociovision specialising in discerning social trends, believes there are some common threads.

"There is an increasing desire for people to be in charge of their own lives, and an intolerance for any lack of autonomy," he told the debate.

"We are also moving into a different situation. We no longer need what we are used to, rather we need what is new. But a motorway without any signs is total panic. So we need some beacons ... and we need a little bit of fun."

Today's consumer wants to feel pampered, but also to be able to take time out, feel good and feel alive.

"We have to help people to create their own look. And we absolutely must help people to dream, and if we help people to dream perhaps the world will be a little bit better," he said.


Where's my puking smiley...



Why do I have to put on a pink flowered shirt to go out partner swapping? Never had a problem with doing it before in Dockers and a polo shirt.

Brad Johnson:

--- Quote ---A study along these lines led by French marketing and style consultantsOh, no wonder...


Sean Smith:
Funny, I've done perfectly fine by ignoring the advice of gay French fashion gurus.  Go figure.  


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