THIS IS SHAPING up to be the summer of skin in men’s fashion. During last month’s men’s runway presentations in Europe, Fendi showed skimpy, navel-flashing crop tops, and Prada sent out bare-chested models in barely there shorts. Outside the always-dramatic high-fashion sphere, young men with day jobs that are not modeling are also brandishing some skin. Thigh-highlighting 5-inch inseam shorts, a style perpetuated by users on TikTok, remain commonplace in urban enclaves. And this summer, the revealing male tank top—a longtime staple of men’s wardrobes—is surging with a new vitality.
“The sleeveless trend is definitely happening right now,” said Saisangeeth Daswani, who analyzes fashion and beauty trends at Stylus, a trend-forecasting agency in London. Ms. Daswani noted that for years, avant-garde designers like Riccardo Tisci, now at Burberry , and Rick Owens have created body-conscious tanks, but the current tank onslaught is more of a grass-roots movement. During lockdowns, she said, many men were able to experiment with their style “in a more discreet way” from the comfort of their homes. This gave them confidence to sample daring clothes, like those bicep-baring tanks. As we return to our regularly scheduled lives this summer, these sudden risk-takers join the cohort of men already comfortable with showing their shoulders.
Adding to the tank top’s current appeal is what Clinton Chan, a 33-year-old engineer in Vancouver, called a “vanity aspect.” For men who spent every idle moment of quarantine ripping off push-ups and bicep curls, a tank top shows the fruits of their labor. It is no wonder that nearly every tank top fan I spoke with copped to spending ample hours working out. An extreme example of this muscular flexing can be seen in “F9,” the “Fast & Furious” franchise’s most recent box-office hit, in which beefcake Dom Toretto (played by Vin Diesel) wears a plethora of sleeveless shirts to flaunt upper arms the size of Christmas hams.
More modest sorts are layering fine, featherweight tanks beneath camp shirts or even sportcoats. Mr. Chan noted that to wear a tank solo you have to consider not just your physique but your body hair—another reason to treat the tank as a just-revealing-enough base layer—one that has the benefit of being far lighter in summer than a standard T-shirt.
Tanks make Joseph Corrao, 32, who works at his family’s restaurant in Little Falls, N.J., think of his grandfather, an impeccable dresser who often wore tanks beneath knit polos like a swank extra from Martin Scorsese’s 1995 film “Casino.” Taking a cue from his well-dressed elder, Mr. Corrao now wears tank tops so frequently, they’re “like a second skin.” He even recently sported one under a navy suit for a day in Manhattan.