A growing fashion trend for men’s balaclavas that has seen a surge in sales has been condemned as inappropriate, due to the garments’ association with attacks on women.
The fashion for headpieces that cover the face has been hailed by style writers as one of the key trends for 2022 after being worn by numerous influential musicians and sports stars.
They’ve gone from runway to high street, with North Face, Adidas and Puma versions available.
Fashion shopping platform Lyst reported that web searches for men’s headwear increased 344% year-on-year between 2021 and 2022, while the website recently selected the balaclava as one of the “hottest” products. “during the last quarter of 2021 based on data collected by Google, Instagram and Depop. On the StockX resale site, searches for balaclavas have increased more than fivefold in the last two months of 2021.
But some feminists and women’s rights groups have called the trend “inappropriate” and “irresponsible” because balaclavas have long been associated with crime, particularly sexual attacks on women.
Carolyn Pearson, CEO of Maiden Voyage, a travel company specializing in women’s safety, said, “Meeting someone in a balaclava can be extremely challenging and troubling for those of us who are hyper-vigilant about our personal safety. The balaclava has long been a piece of clothing associated with and adopted by bad actors. “
Madeleine Black, sexual assault activist and author of Uninterrupted, detailing her survival from such experiences, said: “I would definitely associate balaclavas with violence and criminal activity and would feel very uncomfortable with men wearing them in my vicinity. It seems like an inappropriate fashion trend that makes women feel more insecure and vulnerable. I would wonder why the wearer wants to hide his face. “
Jeanette Forder, who defends women’s rights as an activist and life coach, said she was horrified by the trend: “I’m a runner and I’m worried about my own safety, because I often go out alone and have felt intimidated by men in the past. – having suffered men screaming from car windows and being electrocuted. So making balaclavas a mainstream fashion accessory is a huge no-no for me and should be for society as a whole. They make it easy for men to commit crimes and escape detection. For a woman, they are particularly intimidating. This is a truly disturbing development. I am amazed at how irresponsible the fashion industry is. ”
The trend seems to have started when the Vetements label, popular with the likes of Ye and Drake, began selling them in 2018.
The growth was fueled by TikTok, where videos of drivers wearing sunglasses over balaclavas became a trend and the term “balaclava” generated over 152 million views.
They have appeared in recent shows, including Jonathan Anderson at Loewe, Matthew Williams at 1017 Alyx 9SM, Ernest W Baker, Y / Project, and Rick Owens and Cortiez. High-end Stella McCartney also has a version – for £ 295.