Love Suits Made for Women

The luxury brand’s nubbly tweed jackets are showing up on stylish and daring guys: ‘I know I won’t see anyone else wearing it’

Some of Chanel’s popularity among men can be traced to trendsetter and former Chanel ambassador Pharrell Williams. Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/WireImage


By guest author Rory Satran from the Wall Street Journal Magazine

The luxury brand’s nubbly tweed jackets are showing up on stylish and daring guys: ‘I know I won’t see anyone else wearing it’

The Chanel tweed jacket—worn by famous women from Princess Diana to Rihanna to Marge Simpson—is a beacon of femininity and elegance. Designed by Coco Chanel in 1957 and reworked time and again by the brand’s designers Karl Lagerfeld and now Virginie Viard, its constants are usually nubbly tweed fabric, double-C buttons and a gold chain hidden in the hem (so it falls nicely). It’s an indisputable fashion classic for women.

Suddenly, it’s a status symbol for daring men, as well.

“There is this wink when men wear Chanel,” said Yashua Simmons, a stylist who has put the singer Givēon in several Chanel looks for events including the Met Gala, the Grammy Awards and Coachella. He continued, “It’s the ultimate unexpected thing for a guy to have on today.”

Although Chanel doesn’t make menswear, this year alone celebrities including rapper Kendrick Lamar, South Korean actor Park Seo-joon and rapper G-Dragon have all worn dainty Chanel jackets. The progenitor of the look was Pharrell Williams, now the men’s creative director of Louis Vuitton, who’s worn women’s Chanel pieces for several years, was a muse to Lagerfeld and designed a capsule collection for the brand in 2019 called “Chanel Pharrell.”

PARIS, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 29: Bryan Boy wears black sunglasses, a black tweed with black leather and gold chain borders jacket, a blue denim Timeless shoulder bag from Chanel, gold rings, black shiny leather quilted shorts, gold bracelets, black shiny leather knees boots , outside Schiaparelli, during Paris Fashion Week – Womenswear Spring/Summer 2023, on September 29, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

Some of Chanel’s popularity among men can be traced to trendsetter and former Chanel ambassador Pharrell Williams. Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/WireImage

Williams’s influence can be felt in the increasing number of men who have started wearing Chanel women’s ready-to-wear, including sweaters, coats, skirts and, most notably, the classic tweed jackets and suits. On the red carpet, at fashion shows and at parties, men are experimenting with this most ladylike of styles.

To July’s haute couture show on the banks of the Seine in Paris, Lamar showed up in slouchy logo-printed black pants with a cream-colored tweed jacket, worn unbuttoned over a white T-shirt and pearls. Manspreading in the front row, he managed to look uniquely himself in these granny go-to pieces.


“In Chanel, I feel free,” said editor in chief of Perfect magazine Bryan Yambao (aka Bryanboy), who owns more than 60 Chanel women’s jackets, as well as coats and sweaters. He said the brand works well for him, as a relatively small 5-foot-8 man, and he wears a size 40, 42 or 44 depending on the style (the range goes up to size 50, which is on the larger side for luxury womenswear).

Compared with restrictive and dull men’s black and navy suits, Yambao likes the variety and quality of the Chanel textiles used in tailoring. “I just feel like with menswear, you’ve pretty much seen it all,” he said.

Chanel’s visibility is at an all-time high, with the brand as the co-sponsor of this year’s Chanel-heavy Karl Lagerfeld-themed Met Gala, fashion shows in Paris and Los Angeles, and this summer’s Chanel-spiked “Barbie” blockbuster. The brand is everywhere, so boys want in.

When I asked Chanel’s president of fashion, Bruno Pavlovsky, earlier this year how young people find out about the brand these days, he said the Met Gala, with no hesitation. Surely the images and social-media impressions of men wearing Chanel to the event, like Givēon in 2022 and Lamar in 2023, as well as men in Chanel-evoking looks, like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in a black-and-white tweedy blazer from Thom Browne in 2023, introduced the brand to a new generation.

Givēon, left, and Kendrick Lamar, right, both wearing Chanel womenswear. Amy Sussman/Getty Images; Swan Gallet/WWD via Getty Images

Plus, the fact that the brand doesn’t make menswear or market its ready-to-wear to men contributes to it feeling unique, a quality that’s prized on the red carpet and beyond. Most of the men I spoke to who wear Chanel womenswear like its rarity.

Rolland Ryan, a model and designer in Los Angeles who frequently wears Chanel, said, “Fashion men want to stand out. When I purchase an item from Chanel, whether it be a bag, shirt, jacket, I know I won’t see anyone else wearing it.”

Most of Chanel’s haute-fashion competitors—Hermès, Valentino, Prada and the like—make menswear. And many are actively questioning the notion of gender altogether, with a contemporary back-and-forth merchandising strategy. Think of Gucci, which often puts men in women’s clothing and vice versa on the runway, and recently featured trans man Elliot Page in a trio with A$AP Rocky and Julia Garner in a perfume ad. Or Louis Vuitton, whose first menswear ad under former Chanel ambassador Williams featured a woman: Rihanna.

Luke Raymond, the senior menswear editor at online luxury marketplace Farfetch, which sells secondhand Chanel, compared Chanel to Miu Miu, another holdout with no current men’s line. He speculated that although both brands are highly coveted by men, “there does seem to be a reluctance on the brand side and maybe that is around potentially scaring or offending an existing customer at the risk of attracting new ones.”

Rolland Ryan in Chanel. Photo: Courtesy of Rolland Ryan

Chanel markets to men in other ways. The company produces watches, fragrance and skin-care products for men. Global ambassadors include Timothée Chalamet for Bleu cologne, as well as musicians Sébastien Tellier, Nile Rodgers and G-Dragon. Williams was an ambassador from 2014 to 2022. Local Asian-market ambassadors include Wang Yibo, Boran Jing and William Chan in China, Hio Miyazawa in Japan, and Park Seo-joon in Korea.

Viard, Chanel’s current designer, is known for her allegiance to women both in her feminine design work and in projects like supporting female writers. Lagerfeld would occasionally sprinkle one or two men’s looks into his shows. Those are now collectible, according to Cameron Silver, founder of Los Angeles vintage mecca Decades, who owns an early men’s blazer. He said that when he recently traveled to Puglia, Italy, male clients were asking him to track down larger sizes of Chanel jackets.

Silver pointed out that Coco Chanel’s original inspiration for the tweed jacket was menswear. She first started making tweed pieces after becoming familiar with Scotland in 1924 through the Duke of Westminster, and made the tweed suit a cornerstone of her brand in the 1950s. So men embracing it is more natural and less subversive than it first appears.

“I think it’s celebratory,” said Silver. “And I have a feeling Coco Chanel would be delighted that her inspiration, coming from the men in her life, has now inspired the 21st-century confident male to this completely modern, 20th-century way of dressing.”