By AJ Willingham, CNN
Male romper. RompHim. Bro romper (bromper?). Public onesie. Jumpsuit, variety: short. Or, perhaps, just a romper that happens to be worn by a man.
Whatever you call it, the one-piece clothing item preferred by babies and women at outdoor concerts has officially hit the male fashion mainstream.
Blame it on RompHim
The sartorial whisper became a scream this week when a project called “RompHim” launched on Kickstarter. RompHim is, quite obviously, a man-sized romper offered in several pastel colors and prints.
There’s a lot to unpack here.
The campaign presents the RompHim as a mildly obnoxious, devil-may-care garment for young men with an abundance of money and/or self-confidence, who never skip leg day and spend the summer weekends at their bro’s house on the Cape. Which is not to judge! That is definitely an aesthetic.
In fact, it is an aesthetic that men — and the people that love to look at them — are clearly longing for. In two days, the Kickstarter has raised more than $136,000, which is 13 times the $10,000 goal they were shooting for.
On social media, you may have noticed an explosion of romper-related jokes and assumed the stream of alarming political news had driven people into some sort of dissociative fugue state. Maybe! But it was also people discovering that a) male rompers existed, and b) they are cool now.
Before rompers, they were just jumpsuits
The male romper has enjoyed a rich history, sometimes paralleled by the emergence of other trends like pajama onesies. RompHim themselves posted a picture of Sean Connery as James Bond in 1964’s “Goldfinger,” rocking a thigh-lightful blue terry one piece.
The recent trend was also a recent trend before RompHim blew it up. Here is NFL star Cam Newton rocking an excellent version at Coachella, which is exactly the sort of fashion petri dish where these trends take root and grow.
That pretty much settles the (irrelevant) debate over whether they can be masculine or sexy, but just for the record, construction workers, hazmat specialists and military aviators have been pulling off the look for decades with traditionally manly aplomb.
A variation on a theme: The New York Yankees, who are very manly, showing off the recent onesie trend.
Before the ascendance of the term “male romper,” these items were simply called “jumpsuits.” Male jumpsuits, short and long, have been available on the fashion market for years, and some of them put the summer seersucker versions to shame in terms of formality and gravitas.
It’s interesting that the RompHims of today seems to inject irony into a trend that, for a certain fashion set, has long been practiced with sincerity. Does one need to be confident to pull off what is essentially an evolved version of a child’s garment? Sure. But they needn’t be as self-aware as the most recent rainbow-splashed incarnations suggest.
Maybe that’s too much thought to give a fashion trend that basically amounts to dudes being comfortable and looking unique. But admit it, now that you know about male rompers, it’s kind of hard to stop thinking about them.