The New York Times Style section offered a fascinating revelation today: the heat of the New York City summer is making men take their shirts off. And these aren't just any men, folks, these are good-looking New Yorkers, going about their New York lives with shirtless bodies on full display. "California strikes. Manhattan is becoming Malibu, writes The Times's Guy Trebay. "We are referring here to a curious trend among men in the city to go walking about without shirts."
Men walking around shirtless being touted as a "curious trend" is sort of puzzling for anyone who has lived or even visited New York on a blistering summer day. There are shirtless men everywhere. Tons of them are running up and down West Side Highway. Central Park is shirtless-men heaven. Pier 45 is packed with bare pecs.
Naturally, some these shirtless men might not cover up while moving about the city and thus commute to their next destination shirtless. That could explain why there are shirtless men in Trebay's path as he walks about New York:
There, on Bastille Day, was a shirtless guy checking out the windows at Bergdorf Goodman; there, on Lafayette Street one Tuesday morning, ambled a shirtless shopper hauling Urban Outfitter bags; there, on the R train, was a rider wearing nothing but jeans and sandals; there, on Astor Place, a cluster of topless men flaunting their abs and pecs.
Trebay contends that this is a new breed of shirtlessness—one that isn't just utility shirtlessness to beat the heat or shirtlessness by way of sunbathing. This is shirtlessness as a fashion statement. "[M]en are no longer the oglers; they are the object of the gaze," Trebay writes, paraphrasing a male shirtlessness expert.
Trebay posits that these shirtless men are harbingers of a lack of decorum and style. First go the shirts, then comes the reckless, feral dystopia that is Southern California. "It’s great we live in a democratic society, but we’ve lost all sense of decorum and occasion. To be on Fifth Avenue is now about the same as being on the Coney Island boardwalk," says Patricia Mears, deputy director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Ouch, Coney Island boardwalk, ya got burned.
Clearly, as a civilization, we're a lost cause. If Fifth Avenue is Coney Island, then SoHo is already gone. Chelsea is in the ocean. Rather than fight this curious trend any longer, we've gone on an embraced the inevitable. Because if we're on our way to Malibu, we might as well enjoy it. Now here's a map of those shirtless spots Trebay
suggested witnessed (our strategy: start in the Central Park then work your way down to SoHo, or just hang out in Central Park):
View The New York Times's Guide to Shirtless Men in a larger map
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.