Dr. Ben Barry | Men & Fashion
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My current research explores the challenges that men experience due to normative gender codes and the opportunities to use fashion to empower them to celebrate gender diversity. Interviews are carried out in men’s homes with the contents of their wardrobes used to prompt discussions. An Insight Develop Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has provided the funds for this project (proposal was ranked first in its category)

The main findings will be shared on my forthcoming book, Refashioning Masculinity: Men’s Fashion Consumption in the Digital Age (Bloomsbury) Below are a few articles I have published on the topic to-date.

Gender Rebels: Inside the Wardrobes of Young Gay Men with Subversive Style
With Dylan Martin
Fashion, Style & Popular Culture
(Special issue on LGBT fashion and style)


A constant theme in the history of gay men’s dress has been the hyperbolic performance and radical confusion of masculine and feminine gender codes. This research seeks to understand how gender conventions influence the stylistic motivations and dress practices of contemporary gay men. Guided by the theory of gender performativity, this article presents the sartorial biographies of three urban-residing young gay men in Toronto, Canada who each come from different ethnic backgrounds. Eschewing gender binaries, these men combine unique variations of conventionally masculine and feminine clothing to formulate distinctive looks. Influenced by their sexuality and intersectional identities, these men blend gendered dress codes to express their individuality as well as stimulate meaningful dialogue about gender. By blurring gender codes in diverse and fluid ways, participants use fashion to create new expressions of gender beyond the binaries of masculinity and femininity. The experiences of the men in this study can be seen as representative of a shift in how society perceives gender that underscores the current post-postmodern cultural climate.


The toxic lining of men’s fashion consumption: The omnipresent force of hegemonic masculinity 
Ben Barry
Critical Studies in Men’s Fashion
2015, 2 2+3), pp. 143–161

While scholars have theorized about men’s motives for consuming fashion, few empirical studies have explored these theorizations against men’s lived experiences. A gap in knowledge exists between how scholars understand men’s fashion consumption and how men understand their fashion consumption. In this article, I examine men’s motives for consuming fashion based on individual interviews with 30 demographically diverse male consumers. Findings reveal that men are motivated to consume fashion because it provides benefits, including expressing identity, cultivating success and facilitating engagement. However, the pressures of body anxiety, exclusion and sartorial stress temper these positive outcomes. The common thread of hegemonic masculinity connect the various benefits and pressures that men experience when they engage in fashion. My research enhances knowledge about the operation of masculinity in consumer culture and the anxieties that men experience during the fashion consumption process. Menswear brands are advised to promote diverse masculine ideals in order to prevent negative business outcomes.


Dapper Dudes
With Dylan Martin
Critical Studies in Men’s Fashion
2015, 2(1), pp. 5-21.

Men’s fashion is offering a growing selection of diverse and gender-blurring clothing for mainstream male consumers. This research explores the influence of these contemporary clothing trends on the dressing practices and gendered identities of style-conscious young men—a group of consumers whose voices are scarce in fashion research. Findings from the Canadian sample reveal that young men develop an idiosyncratic and creative sense of style to express their identities. While shifts in menswear and culture have inspired them to participate in fashion, social norms continue to prevent men from fully experimenting with dress. This study reveals the factors that influence young men’s fashion consumption and highlights changes in their consumer practices, including their use of social media. Fashion professionals will glean an understanding of Generation Y men’s fashion consumption habits and attitudes. They are advised to develop brands that focus on creativity and community to reach this audience.


The New Man Cave
With Danial Drak
Elle Canada Man
2015, Fall, pp. 50-53.