The popularity of Romphim suggests that it’s time we moved beyond limiting, boring ideas about clothing and gender.
When someone first showed me the Romphim — a romper for men — my first thought was “yeah, of course.”
This is, perhaps, because I am fascinated by the ’70s, where jumpsuits of all types clinging to your genitals were totally a trend. Or maybe it’s because I’ve always had a soft spot for the ’20s, where one-piece men’s bathing costumes were required — swimsuits were knit, and therefore heavy shorts would inevitably lead to some public exposure that was very not the bee’s knees.
Maybe it’s because I still remember the footie-pajama and animal-onesie trend that only trickled to a stop last year at various festivals.
Men wearing rompers made for their bodies makes complete sense to me, especially having watched boyfriends try to work with metallic jumpsuits that did not leave much room for their tackle.
Related: Meet Dapper Boi, The Awesome Couple Making Classy Masculine Clothes For Women
I hang out with a crowd of queer, genderfucking folks who often scoff at ideas of what they should or shouldn’t wear. Imagine, then, my surprise when many of them were publicly mocking the idea of the “Romphim.”
I understand the complaints about the trend of using language to make things seen as traditionally feminine “for men” — see “man buns,” “murses” or “guyliner,” for starters.
Yeah, it’s silly, though from a marketing standpoint I can also see how these words are helpful. Looking up “men’s rompers” led to a great many photos of women, which would not help me find the item I’m looking for. A new word may cut through the noise.
I also understand that the fabric choices and design seem relatively bland. Mostly pastels, with some white-based patterns, these rompers are certainly not the jumpers worn by people like David Bowie or Prince. They look more akin to something frat boys might wear as a joke, and most media outlets reporting on the Romphim can’t seem to stop giggling.
That said, the fact that the designers have raised more than 13 times their Kickstarter goal suggests that men genuinely want an opportunity to experiment with clothing and style the way women are allowed to. It also suggests that there are people who may not identify as men, but who want to wear a romper that actually leaves space for a cock and balls.
This offers a fashion possibility — not just for cis men, but for trans women and nonbinary folks who can’t squeeze into the cameltoe-prone options at Forever 21.
I worry that by making fun of the Romphim, assuming the people photographed in the designs (very bro-like models with similar, fit bodies) are the target, “ironic” market, we are effectively shaming people from exploring how awesome ungendering clothes and wearing what you want can be.
It’s sad that the Romphim doesn’t offer larger-size options. Many of the folks I know who were excited about this product are on the XL-and-larger end of the spectrum. It’s also sad to me that the style and fabric offered feels white-collar, considering that the one-piece jumpsuit is traditionally far more of a working-class clothing item.
But what makes me especially sad is this: here is a piece of clothing that is encouraging men to try something new; here is something available to cis and trans men that was traditionally limited by outdated gender norms as something “feminine” — and we’re not rushing to encourage them to do so.
You’d best believe when they come out with paisley, I’ll be buying one for my boyfriend. It’s time we moved beyond limiting, boring ideas about clothing and gender.