What the people say

Interviews by Sarah Bharrat and photographs by Melissa Charles

This week we asked the man/woman in the street whether Guyanese men are fashion conscious and whether they should be. Their responses are below:

Godwin Fernandes, teller: ‘Well some Guyanese men are fashion conscious, not all. But I think it should be about being comfortable – that’s how I dress, with comfort in mind. That does not mean I have anything against fashion-conscious men. But it’s becoming something of a fad; some men are not themselves but are following the catwalk trends. There is nothing wrong with coordinating your colours or dressing for the occasion. However I think that men are more concerned about what they wear today more than ever; the percentage of fashion-conscious men has not moved by a notch but by leaps and bounds.’

Roslyn Williams, banker: ‘Some of Guyana’s men are fashion conscious and that I think it is a good thing to be so. A man’s outer appearance will tell you whether he is fashion conscious or not, his clothes whether they are matched or the brands he wears. Although I prefer fashion-conscious men I don’t like the fact that some men take it to the extreme. Most people have the perception that men who do this are homosexuals when maybe that is not true. There are the fashion fads such as multiple piercings and lots of earrings that Guyanese men follow, but those are not to my liking. In those cases I think they follow the celebrities and the music videos.’

Colvin Harris, inventory clerk: ‘I think that men should dress sensibly depending on the occasion they are going to. I don’t see any problems with a man dressing to match, although it’s not something I take seriously. However there is a limit to being fashionable for men. Also I don’t think that fashion-conscious men appear more attractive or are more in demand by women, for the simple reason that different women have different tastes. While some may like men who are up to date in the latest styles, some like the ordinary rugged macho guy.’

Eric Gray, clerk: ‘I believe that about 50% of Guyanese men are fashion conscious. You can tell those that are fashion conscious simply by looking at them. They are obviously going to be attired in the latest style. For example right now ratty jeans are a fad and I’m wearing one – I am fashion conscious, I always watch what I wear. You see the thing is that fashion is not and should not be a “woman thing.” I mean why should it be? Men should take pride in their appearance and want to be up to date just as women. And besides I think that 90% of women prefer to be with a man who is as well dressed as she is – not that well dressed always qualifies as fashionable – remember the ratty jeans. But yes, most women want to be with a guy who has a sense of fashion.’

Patrick McAndrew, consultant: ‘I don’t think Guyanese men are that fashion conscious – not really. For me it’s dressing to be comfortable, not to please someone or to keep up with the latest styles – not that I have anything against those men who want to be. But some men take it to the extreme and then you would want to wonder whether they are still men! But my thing is, there is nothing wrong with appreciating your appearance, but there is something wrong when you are forcing an appearance that is not you. And you have to admit all fashion fads aren’t for everyone. Again, nothing is wrong with having a sense of fashion as long as you are comfortable.’

Clifford Langevine, contractor: ‘For me once my clothes are clean and I do not smell, I’m fine. I wear choice clothes; I don’t check on brand. I look for durable clothes. I think many men are becoming obsessed with what they wear. I think that most men in Guyana have become very fashion conscious. Take for example the “passa-passa” style they’re currently wearing.’

Dwayne Benjamin, student: ‘I’m not really into the whole fashion thing but generally most men are fashion conscious. It has a lot to do with the influence of western culture. Guyanese men are trying to imitate the looks they see in hip-hop and reggae videos. I’m not fashion conscious because I don’t see that as part of being a man and for this exact reason I don’t think Guyanese men should be fashion conscious. While I don’t think that fashionable men are associated with homosexuality there are some who take the whole fashion thing to the extreme.’

Nikita Hardeen, student: ‘Some men are definitely fashion conscious and you can tell by the clothes they wear and their entire physical appearance. Although many people seem to think that fashionable men are gay, I don’t think that because a man is aware of what he wears and how he looks he’s gay. I prefer men who are fashion conscious because they should look well presented when in public. It’s important for a man to look good.’

Aubrey Welch, UG student: ‘Men should be fashion conscious just to look good so that they can catch a woman’s eye. However, I feel that some men take fashion too seriously. Many men now line their eyebrows and wear make-up, and things like these make them appear to be gay. In fact when you see a man who looks too fashionable you are inclined to think that he’s gay. Men who are too fashionable should get a grip of themselves. I mean I have a sense of fashion but I know what to wear when. I think these extreme fashion men should learn to balance what they wear and what they do for the sake of fashion to avoid the risk of being mistaken for something they’re not. Animal skin shoes are extremely nice and I wear them, but like I said there’s a limit to what a man should do for fashion.’

Peggy Oudkerk, cosmetologist: ‘Some men are fashion conscious but sadly there are still a large number who aren’t. The first thing I glance at is a man’s shoes. A man’s shoes should be nice. I think that men should be fashion conscious but they shouldn’t overdo it. They should strive to look good and cool. Their clothes and shoes are the most important thing if they are to maintain a proper appearance. I used to own a salon and many men would come to have their eyebrows done or get a manicure. I have no objection to that. I mean women take great pride in their appearance so why shouldn’t men?’