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Faux-Retrosexual Backlash: Letter to ‘Business Week’

The Editor
Business Week


As the ‘father’ of the metrosexual (and also apparently of his antithetical brother the retrosexual) my attention was drawn to your cover article ‘Secrets of the male shopper’ by Nanette Byrnes.

Since she talked so much about my offspring, it would have been nice if Ms Byrnes had contacted me to check some of her metro family history.

When I first wrote about him in a UK newspaper in 1994 (‘Here come the mirror men’, Independent), I was not being insulting. Amused yes, but fondly so. Ambivalence was to come later.

Nor did the metrosexual somehow ‘surface’ in the US ten years later – he was introduced Stateside by his father in 2002 (‘Meet the metrosexual’, If I’d known what was coming I’d have grounded him in the UK.

US marketers abducted him with false flattery and did their best to turn him into an annoying fad, talking incessantly about the metrosexual as ‘sensitive’ and ‘in touch with his feminine side’. In fact, metrosexuality is only ‘feminine’ if you believe vanity’s name is (forever) Woman.

Ironically, the final proof that men are now as self-conscious as women is the so-called retrosexual backlash against metrosexuality. As your figures for booming male consumerism show, it’s not really retrosexual at all. It’s faux-retrosexual. It’s Calvin Klein model Brad six-pack Pitt leading the rebellion against consumerism in Fight Club all over again.

‘Regular guys’, whatever they are/were, are fast becoming just another annoying fad.


Mark Simpson

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