If there is something that has grown at an amazing rate in all the major cities of the world, it is men`s beauty parlours and men`s fashions. It is no longer surprising to walk into a salon and see a man sitting with a facepack or having his nails tended to. It is no longer strange to hear a group of men passionately discussing clothing and shopping with the same kind of fervour as they discuss cricket and football.
Are we talking effeminate here? Are we talking `gay`? No! The modern urban man loves Armani as much as he loves his sports. The macho man of yesteryears has bitten the dust; he`s been replaced by something just as tough inside, but softer at the edges. He goes to beauty parlours, spends hours deciding on a haircut but he is not gay!
Men are taking a greater interest in their appearance. They go to hairdressers rather than barbers; avoid using soap because it`s too harsh on their skin; visit the gym instead of playing sport and even have difficulty deciding what to wear.
They`re occupying their time differently - not only spending more of it in front of the mirror, but also at boutiques and going to beauty salons. Cosmetic brands are happy with this trend as more and more men are becoming conscious of skin and hair.
The advertisers too are cashing in on this new avatar of the urban male - they too are dropping the macho element from products that target men. Men are shown increasingly as family oriented who recite stories to their children on phone in the middle of important meetings or who wash clothes and cook up a dinner for their wives.
Gone are the tough male images, even from beer and car ads. Another new trend - Men`s fashion chains are growing. Men`s boutiques have become as popular as women`s. Magazines are increasing their coverage of men`s fashion.
Twenty years ago, male fashion, skin care and vanity in general, were identified with gay men. Now sexuality, it seems, is irrelevant. In fact, British newspapers have even found a new word for the softer man: the "metrosexual".
The workplace itself has changed for many men, too. As the proportion of white-collar workers grows, so does the need to look good. To compete in today`s work environment, you must dress well, have your haircut neatly and take care of your body.
So, women, make way for the new trend - "Vanity - thy name is man"