Medellín, despite its growing popularity, embraces change the way Kim Jong Un champions democracy.
Ok, so it’s not that bad, but paisas tend to be very traditional. One aspect of their culture I noticed upon moving here is that all the paisa men wore pants. If they wore shorts, it was to go to the gym or do some other kind of exercise.
That has changed.
In the last year, I have noticed paisas wearing shorts everywhere: the grocery store, the mall, various neighborhoods.
Keep in mind, this occurs during the daylight hours 90 percent of the time. At night, wearing pants, especially jeans, is still the dominant fashion trend.
As Jeff, one of our new writers, once told me, his girlfriend and her friends favor guys who wear pants on a date, and I concur, for the most part. Once, on a mid-afternoon date to Café Zeppelin, I wore shorts.
So then why the change of style at other times? Melissa will tell you more about men’s fashion overall in a future story, the same way she did with her informative piece of what women wear here.
In my story, I’ll focus only on shorts and I have a few theories for the fashion shift. I even asked some people in the fashion field their thoughts, to give this story a more diverse perspective.
My first theory is Colombians are strongly influenced by European and North American culture. Just look at all the fast food places around Medellín, the McDonald’s and Burger Kings, and is it just me or are there not an inordinate amount of Subway sandwich shops now?
Heck, even a Starbucks opened in Bogotá recently, and one will no doubt be coming to Medellín as the company announced plans to open 50 locations in Colombia.
Tourism is another factor.
The Colombian government estimates that the country will welcome more than 4 million tourists this year, a new record, and many of these tourists wear shorts.
The locals notice this, said Steven Marin, whose family owns Lonmar Itda, a textile company in nearby Barbosa that makes clothing for popular Colombian brands such as Chevignon and Stop Jeans.
“Gringos rock the shorts and sandals,” he said.
There are other factors as well.
“Big brands like Chevignon and Americanino have been investing in publicity to sell more Bermudas and shorts for both men and women,” he said. “Plus an increase in temperature. Shorts are the practical way to go.”
With the El Niño weather phenomenon, it has been hotter and drier this year, so I’d have to agree with him there.
So does Mauricio Velasquez, director of the design and fashion wing of the Escuela de Arquitectura y Diseño at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana.
“Hace mucho calor,” Velasquez said, referring to the last couple of summers, the latest hotter than the last, and that one hotter than the one before.
That makes shorts more a necessity, he said, than a commodity.
But that’s not all.
Velasquez cited foreigners having an influence as well, but not necessarily when they’re visiting Medellín, more so just by living their lives the way they do at home. With the city libraries either new or upgraded to make them as modern as any in the world, the younger generations are able to see what people are doing around the world with the click of a mouse.
“Es un fenómino del Internet,” Velasquez said.
I have an Australian friend, someone who is like a little brother to me, who used to drive me crazy by wearing shorts everywhere in Medellín. It attracted attention, especially when he wore a pair as short as players in the 1980s NBA.
That style has yet to catch on here and probably never will, but otherwise, should he return and wear a pair that at least touches his knees, he would fit right in.