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How Harry Styles changed the face of men’s fashion

Former editor of British GQ, Dylan Jones on Harry Styles’ fashion evolution – from One Direction to Guccification

5 October 2022


I think it’s fair to say that Harry Styles is the most important person in menswear right now. He has been, in fact, for quite some time. He is the nexus between creative design, the fashion industry, pop music and sexual dynamism. Can’t beat that, can you?

I first met Harry over 10 years ago, when One Direction suddenly became a talent show phenomenon. It was always Harry who was the true star, Harry who looked as though he could develop into a genuine talent and Harry who looked cool. He was charming, too, which always helps. 

In the years since, he has not only become all the things we thought he would, but in terms of the fashion industry, he has become so much more. In the early days of his solo career, he was already looking like someone who was going to be more experimental with the way in which he dressed – choosing the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Saint Laurent, Givenchy and the up-and-coming Charles Jeffrey – but in the last few years Harry has become almost talismanic to every brand that he wears.

Sure, he chooses the very best, innovative designers to wear – Marc Jacobs, Ami, SS Daley, JW Anderson, Éliou pearls – but he has an innate style and curiosity that has forced the menswear industry to almost reinvent itself. Harry doesn’t follow trends, he makes them, which is why he is so important. Not just because he has forced the media to take menswear more seriously, but also because it’s encouraged so many designers to become less proscriptive in what they design. He has pushed the boundaries of menswear to the extent that he is often the best-dressed person in any room he finds himself in. 

I think it’s possible to look back at some of Harry’s experiments with menswear and imagine him trying to channel Mick Jagger in his ’60s and ’70s heyday, but very quickly you see that Harry not only had his own style, but was determined to fuse the fashion and music worlds in a way that hadn’t been done since the days of Sly Stone, David Bowie or Prince. 

When I launched London Collections Men around 10 years ago, we always went out of our way to invite Harry to the fashion shows and parties because we knew he had a keen curiosity. He soon became a great ambassador for menswear too, championing young British designers as well as involving himself in the industry. He wore Burberry at the brand’s Spring 2014 show, became obsessed with Louis Vuitton’s ‘Doctor bag’, is often seen shopping in Dolce & Gabbana, loves Donatella Versace, and appreciates the likes of Prada, Tom Ford and Balenciaga. He has been a shot in the arm for the menswear industry, both economically and aesthetically. 

Obviously, a lot of this attention has been because of his extraordinary relationship with Gucci. The latest manifestation of his Guccification is the 25-piece HA HA HA collection he unveiled recently with Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele, that will go on sale in November. The collection – rooted in tailoring and aimed squarely at Styles’ legion of millennial fans – feels as though it was inspired by a maverick Savile Row aesthetic, one that Harry now seems to own completely (fabrics mixed with whimsically printed pyjama sets, camp collar shirts and T-shirts printed with the ‘grumpy bear’ motif etc).

The most important thing about Harry’s ownership of the space is the completely natural way it has occurred. His stylist, Harry Lambert has been crucial to Harry’s development as a figurehead, but it is Styles’ unfettered inquisitiveness and almost bluff sense of experimentation that has made his exploration so appealing, and so successful.

You simply can’t manufacture it. Well, you can, but it very rarely works. What Harry Styles has proved is that if you’re cool enough, talented enough and tenacious enough, then you can lead people into pastures they previously had no interest in. 

I last saw him a few months ago, on holiday, and even on the beach he looked quintessentially cool. And the most important thing? He wasn’t even trying.


Dylan Jones is an English journalist. He is the author of 16 books and the former editor of British GQ, Arena and i-D
At Burberry's Spring 2014 fashion show. Photography: Doug Peters/Alamy
At the 2019 Met Gala, wearing Gucci with creative director Alessandro Michele. Photography: Doug Peters/Alamy
At the Grammy Awards in 2021. Photography: Jordan Strauss/AP/Shutterstock
Wearing Gucci at the 'My Policeman' premiere in 2022. Photography: Alamy
Gucci at Harvey Nichols sunglasses, £255
Tiffany & Co. HardWear pearl necklace, £2,225
Gucci Bamboo 1947 mini bag, £2,220
Off-White at Harvey Nichols blue nail lacquer, £28
Gucci lamé striped jacket, £3000
Gucci tartan jacket, £2,550
Dries Van Noten at Harvey Nichols sequin trousers, £950

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