IT HAD BEEN a youthful year for men’s fashion. Cutesy charm necklaces often encircled the necks of Pete Davidson and Justin Bieber, making those shlumpy style icons—and paparazzi favorites—look like they’d been sprung from summer camp. Last November, Washington Wizard Kyle Kuzma walked into the locker room wearing a pink dress.
sweater with gigundo sleeves, calling to mind a kid wearing his big brother’s hand-me-downs. And fashionCompanies minted adult-size clothing with serious
overtones. British label JW Anderson’s spring offering was littered with sweaters and other pieces in cutesy strawberry prints, while
carries a “doodle”Hoodie covered with infantilizing smiley eyes
This adult embrace of dressing up as a tweenager is known as: “kidcore.” While it’s been simmering for a while (the 2018 explosion of tie-dye was an early indicator), kidcore has soared during the pandemic. It is possible that men found comfort in dressing up as their preteen selves. Lyst, a British company that monitors the behavior of over 150 million online shoppers in 2021 ranked kidcore among its top trends in 2021. This was largely based on searches for charm necklaces and cartoony.
“A lot of people were searching for comfort and familiarity,” said Pierre Lavenir, a cultural specialist at Lyst.
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Kidcore is more about attitude than any particular combination of clothes and accessories. It is about revisiting the way you dressed before anyone told you what was cool—when you really dressed for yourself. Isaac Rodriguez, 24, wears an especially expressive outfit. He wears an orange-andred fleece with a red hat and red Nikes. This is his tweenage mindset. “Seven-year-old me would be like, ‘Man, wear the heck out of that.’”Mr. Rodriguez, a stylist from Los Angeles, who was previously a loan officer, said that he has found a kind of joy in it. “testing the boundaries”It’s amazing what he can wear. (It should be said that most kidcorers I’ve spotted are not that far removed from actually being kids. I’ve yet to see a 60-something in a charm necklace, but if that’s you, please email me.)
Growing up, John Patrick Thorn, 32, a content creator and entrepreneur living outside Nashville, Tenn., challenged his Catholic school’s strict dress code by wearing two-toned bowling shoes with the requisite khakis and polo shirt. “I was always doing something different to bend the fashion rules in one way or another,”He said. In his 20s, Thorn went through an all black period. However, he has since rediscovered a more upbeat and experimental side. Recently, he sewed up a Jacquemus orange-clementine polos shirt and KidSuper Renoir-esque cargo trousers. “A lot of these colors [I wear], all this fun stuff, it definitely reminds me of my childhood,”He said.
As stringent corporate dress codes become passé, many men see little reason to leave their youthful sense of style behind when they get a quote-unquote adult job. “I could literally wear anything I want” to work, said Julian Davis, a 24-year-old copyright-infringement specialist in Austin, Texas. Mr. Davis takes full advantage of his company’s lax standards, often wearing a sweater spattered with little golfer images, and a fleece traversed by wolf motifs that reminds him of growing up in Alaska.
“When I was a kid, I always kind of pictured myself looking a little more refined”As an adult, Cody Pham (26), a Los Angeleno who opened retail locations for Specialized Bicycles, said that Cody Pham. Mr. Pham found that as he entered his 20s, he didn’t have to discard his pattern-mashing style—today he often wears bubble-print puffer jackets and gigantic trousers. He even dyed his hair a flaming orange last year, like Dennis Rodman, his childhood fashion icon. Mr. Pham said that he would rather express his personality than try to conform to the norm. He relishes when strangers ask him about what he’s wearing.
Timid nostalgists might rather add a little bit of boyishness than go all-out. That’s Calvin Tierney’s approach. During the week, Mr. Tierney, a 25-year-old electrical engineer in Nanaimo, British Columbia, layers a statement piece like a barbed wire-print fleece jacket from a collaboration between Supreme and Japan’s South2 West8 over an otherwise tame outfit. On weekends, he is more restrained. “throw[ing] different patterns together.” His girlfriend and parents occasionally raise a brow at his patchwork flannel shirts or Goofy-print T-shirts, but like many a tween-at-heart, he’s dressing for himself, not for them.
Four pieces worthy to be a part of tweenage fantasies
From top left, clockwise: Kapital Fleece $370, MrPorter.com. Necklace $170, IanCharms.com. Jungmaven Sweatpants $205, MrPorter.com. Clogs $55, Crocs.com
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