The greatest instance of collective wishful thinking in recent menswear history happened shortly after the Miu Miu Fall-Winter 2022 runway show in March. That presentation, which closed Paris Fashion Week, was one of the most hotly anticipated of the season. The reason was apparent in the streets all week: dozens of editors, influencers, and celebrities, most of them women, were wearing pieces from Miu Miu’s most recent and critically adored spring collection, including the skimpy schoolgirl crop-top and miniskirt set that became a viral meme immediately upon its debut. Miu Miu had become a rare point of consensus in an increasingly fractured fashion landscape, the brand everyone wanted a piece of.
Including, apparently, many men. Because at the show, when a few male models stepped onto the runway wearing teeny tennis shorts, and another strode out in lace-up leather motorcycle pants, the reaction on certain corners of the menswear internet was immediate—and overjoyed.
Miu Miu, the Prada sub-label founded by Miucca Prada in 1993, has focused on the fairer sex since 2008, when the men’s line was quietly shuttered. Many outlets hailed the fall collection as a much-needed rebirth. “Fashionheads Just Had Their Wildest Dream Come True,” read one headline. “At Last! Miu Miu Men’s Returns” read another. Reviews on TikTok, generally the work of amateur enthusiasts reacting to livestreams and Vogue Runway slideshows, were almost ecstatic. Miu Miu was officially the most hype brand in men’s fashion.
Nevermind that, according to a Miu Miu representative, the inclusion of gender-diverse models did not represent a relaunch of the men’s collection, but rather quite the opposite: a statement about freeing the (still women’s) collection from the idea of gender. The fall collection show notes explained further: “Girlishness—a fundamental part of the Miu Miu persona—can be wider, viewed as a state of mind, free from gender binaries and expressed through a casting embracing a spectrum of different identities. A power can be found in girlishness and femininity, a strength in tenderness, a wisdom in youth.”
For many dudes, no such explanation was necessary. Cool clothes—a spring collection full of low-slung khaki chinos, trench coats, and blue poplin button-downs—are cool clothes, and men are insisting on buying them. Dior Men and Fendi artistic director Kim Jones, a longtime Miu Miu fan with a keener nose for hype than just about anyone, reportedly bought most of the spring collection. On a recent trip to Japan, Jones showed off one of his Miu Miu fits: a khaki harrington jacket, gray cable-knit sweater, and pleated khaki shorts roughly chopped just below the knee. Jones very rarely posts photos of what he’s wearing; the designer understands his rare Miu Miu look is a top-tier flex.
Popular as they are with stylists and celebrities, Miu Miu’s extreme riffs on menswear staples have been sold out practically since they first hit stores. Some men, like 24-year-old performance artist Miles Greenberg, have gone to great lengths to acquire grail pieces. Greenberg has been a fan of the brand ever since he found a pair of vintage square-toe Miu Miu men’s boots in Paris several years ago, and he was immediately drawn to the mini-skirt set that’s been ubiquitous on women’s fashion magazine covers this season. “The genius thing about it is that they’ve taken the most banal uniform imaginable and made it the most impactful thing in fashion,” says Greenberg, who tracked down two colors of the skirt on the secondary market to wear to the Venice Biennale in April. (But not before shortening each by over an inch: the retail version is a hair longer than the one that went down the runway last year, and Greenberg wanted the real thing.) In Venice, he found matching cropped shirts and a sweater at the brand’s boutique after they flew in a Biennale restock, and discovered that the only fashion statement more powerful than a woman hitting the town in an abs-baring micro-set was a man doing the same thing. “I remember crossing San Marco Square, and I’ve never felt that many heads turn since I used to go out in full club kid drag,” he says. “It was probably one of the more impactful things I’ve worn in the past five years.”
The Miu Miu moment has also blown up the market for archival pieces from when Miu Miu actually had a men’s line. According to Nancy Kote, co-founder of downtown NYC fashion showroom Heaven I Stay, Miu Miu men’s used to be “dirt cheap,” as vintage runway hunters focused on Raf Simons, Helmut Lang, and Margiela collections from the same time. Miu Miu men’s shoes, Kote explains, used to be found in decent condition for around $40; now, they can run in the hundreds. Adds Chad Senzel, who often stocks Miu Miu men’s pieces in a roving vintage clothing bazaar: “Everything I’ve had recently has sold very quickly.” According to Senzel, the craze for Miu Miu men’s is following a similar surge in archival Prada as men have pursued “quintessential late-’90s sporty-tech fashion.”
Looking at Miu Miu men’s collections, it’s easy to see a resonance between what Mrs. Prada was doing in the mid-aughts and how men want to dress today. She might explore radically different themes from season to season—Tyrolean-core one year, hunky hikers the next. But the line’s easy formality, and an emphasis on ugly-chic accessories that would have blown up on Instagram had it existed at the time, feel deeply relevant to how men want to dress today. One of the most exciting aspects of the Miu Miu menswear tease at the fall show was imagining what a real Miu Miu-for-men collection would look like. Would Prada co-creative director Raf Simons, whose eponymous line interprets youth culture across the decades, get involved? Of course, men looking for smart, opulent interpretations of modern dress codes can now go to brands like 4SDESIGNS—or, for that matter, Prada, where ideas from past Miu Miu men’s collections have recently found new life. (Prada’s naive beach-boy vibe in spring 2022 strongly echoed that of Miu Miu men’s spring 2007 collection.)
One Miu Miu enthusiast, a London-based artist named Joseph Shao, sees a limit to how popular the brand can get in its current form. Miu Miu may be widening the aperture of girlishness, but “it’s still womenswear, and too feminine for most guys,” says Shao, who nevertheless thinks the fall collection will be the most popular among men yet. The brand could, of course, decide to strike while the iron is hot by formally introducing a capsule collection for men, or extending its sizing to accommodate a wider audience. (A Miu Miu rep declined to confirm any future plans.)
Greenberg, though, says he would almost be disappointed if Miu Miu actually pivoted back to menswear. “I was trying some of the pieces on in the store, and I was just like, oh, this is literally just beautifully tailored clothing,” he said. “I don’t think you need to label it as menswear. It can just be functional for everybody.” The wildest dreams of the fashion-obsessed might be changing, if Greenberg is any indication: “How cool would it be have a totally non-binary Miu Miu?”