Am I just getting old or are young male celebrities dressing really badly these days? Charlotte, by email

It is a fact that people’s eyes don’t work properly until they are 25, which is why when they see Justin Bieber wearing ripped bleached jeans, cowboy boots and a ludicrous fur jacket with even more ludicrous fur hood, they don’t make boring tut-tut noises, but immediately Google “Bieber fur jacket asos!!!!” Life is definitely more fun when you’re young.

Thus, noticing the ludicrousness of celebrities’ outfits is a worrying moment in one’s adult life. What next, you ask fearfully, clutching your Blue Harbour button-down shirt – will I start commenting on the absurd price of takeaway coffee? The bewildering youth of policemen?

But I am happy to reassure you, Charlotte, that your age has nothing to do with your observation: yes, male celebrities are dressing really badly and, yes, it is deliberate. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the hottest male fashion trend of 2018: “scumbros”.

“Scumbro? What is a scumbro?” you ask, weeping into your Gap khakis. I shall explain. Scumbros wear oversized, overpriced skatewear by labels such as Palace and Supreme, obscure graphic T-shirts, ridiculous shoes and even more ridiculous hats. They also wear wildly expensive labels, such as Gucci, Versace and Prada, but deliberately make them look terrible. Shia LaBeouf is a scumbro, while the Justins Bieber and Theroux are wannabe scumbros. When someone wrote on Twitter, correctly: “Diplo starting to look like a dude that sells you bad weed on the Venice boardwalk,” Diplo was so chuffed he posted it on Instagram and wrote underneath: “Goals achieved.” Total scumbro move.

Jonah Hill, according to Vanity Fair, is “king of the scumbros”: he has “pretty good taste”, a men’s fashion expert is quoted as saying beneath a photo of Hill in a T-shirt that looks like a rainbow vomited on it, wide-legged trousers and a pair of white slip-ons of the type my grandfather would wear, thus confirming that Zoolander was not a satire, but a documentary. When the Wall Street Journal ran a photospread of celebrity scumbros recently, it priced up their outfits and they ran into the high hundreds and thousands, even though all the men featured looked as if they’d lost a fight with a 14-year-old’s laundry basket.

The celebrity who took the scumbro trend to the mainstream was a chap by the name of Pete Davidson. Until earlier this year, Davidson was known as a cocky/obnoxious comedian from Saturday Night Live who looked like the friend of your younger brother whom you occasionally allow yourself to fancy in your drunker moments, only to quash the thought the next morning and swear off alcohol for ever. Since he became the fiance of singer Ariana Grande, Davidson has found himself atop the pinnacle of the celebrity pyramid, and his ludicrous scumbro looks have been, via his alliance with Grande, forced on the world.

Grande’s teenage fanbase, who always delighted in their idol’s polished feminine style, have, with some reluctance, learned to endure the sight of Davidson’s oversized camouflage-print tracksuits and endless baseball caps. One of the most widely published photos from Aretha Franklin’s funeral last week was of President Clinton, Grande and … Davidson. Oh sure, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Jesse Jackson were all at the funeral, but let’s illustrate the death of one of the all-time great singers with a picture of a 24-year-old dude and his peroxide hair who probably couldn’t do an Aretha song on a karaoke night.



Clinton, Grande and Davidson Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

For men, when it comes to fashion, looking as if you’re not trying has always been essential to looking cool – but that, of course, is nonsense. If you don’t try, you buy whatever you find first from John Lewis. Johnny Depp’s (extremely tired) rock’n’roll Keith Richards-lite look, or Owen Wilson’s surfer dude style requires effort. And I salute effort! As my beloved Tan France from Queer Eye argues, there is no shame in a man making an effort to look good. What’s interesting about scumbro is that it is simultaneously supposed to look as if it takes no effort while emphasising how much effort it takes. Sure, that puffa jacket and trucker cap might look like something you found in a bin, but they are made by labels inaccessible to most people. It is snobby and ugly and therefore possibly the ultimate young male celebrity’s fashion trend. To quote the ultimate nonscumbro, Dolly Parton, it costs a lot of money to look this cheap.




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