Bad Bunny, the Puerto Rican trap singer most famous in the U.S. for appearing on Cardi B’s track “I Like It,” is your new subversive style icon.
He loves gaudy gold jewelry dripping off his neck and hands, perfectly accentuated by his well-manicured, pointed fingernails. He can also usually be found in vibrant, patterned sport coats rocking an ultra-tight fade, with two lines forming a triangle above the center of his forehead.
Essentially then, wherever Bad Bunny goes, he’s redefining what masculine style looks like, and he’s usually doing so with his signature accessory: tiny-ass sunglasses.
“The last time I went shopping, I spent a fortune. I spent as much as a new car on sunglasses,” he recently told Interview magazine.
Tiny shades, loosely defined as sunglasses that don’t cover the entire eyelid, were resurrected from the 1990s last summer when Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid were heavily photographed romping around New York in the barely-there shades. They’re among the many 1990s fashion staples like the butt cut (sorry, the eboy haircut) and Fila shoes to make a recent comeback. Ana Correa, an associate editor at the trend-forecasting service WGSN, told the Wall Street Journal in March that tiny sunglasses dominated 2019 runway collections: “I saw that style so much, it was just in front of my face.”
Designer Virgil Abloh featured small shades in both his recent Off-White and Louis Vuitton collections. And true to the law of style (as outlined in The Devil Wears Prada), the runway trend jumped back to celebrities. Case in point: Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian both donned tiny sunglasses this year — just in time for those iconic tiny sunglasses from The Matrix to reach their 20th anniversary.
However, you’d be hard-pressed to find many celebrity men in the mini-shades… yet. Fashion-forward celebrities Zayn Malik and Troye Sivan wore them in 2018, but neither has continued the look regularly this year. While male beauty YouTubers James Charles and Gabriel Zamora are also known to rock the tiny glasses, the look hasn’t leapt far outside of the fashion world (though you’ll often see in-the-know dudes in the city and on TikTok brave enough to rock the look).
All of which brings me back to Bad Bunny — and all of which is to say that he’s basically the only man bringing tiny sunglasses to a wider audience. Not that being on such a style island isn’t without its detractors. He told GQ in March, “There’s people that appreciate what I do; there’s people that criticize it. There’s people who say, ‘Thank you for sticking up [for us], thank you for defending [this].’ There’s others that say I’m an opportunist.”
Regardless of the critiques, it’s worth noting that Bad Bunny’s style isn’t something easily found in Latinx culture. He grew up in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, in a family that had a traditional view of masculinity. In other words: His penchant for painted nails, bright colors, and yes, feminine sunglasses wasn’t exactly part of the familial crest.
Similarly, in July 2018, a nail salon in Spain, allegedly denied the singer a manicure because he’s male. In a since-deleted Instagram post, he denounced the salon: “I don’t know what to think, but it seems very very very unfortunate haha. What year is it? Fucking 1960? What do you call this?” (Reflecting on the gender discrimination, he told Interview he doesn’t think twice about being a man who gets his nails done: “The only thing that matters is that they are very uncomfortable when I play basketball.”)
And while he’s clearly trailblazing — “Bad Bunny’s sartorial risks are significant, providing alternative expressions of masculinity, style and Latin identity,” CNN reporter Vanessa Rosales wrote in praise of his style in the video for his single “Caro” — he’s also just trying to be himself.
Or as he told Fader last fall, this is how he chooses the see the world (and himself) through those tiny sunglasses: “Sometimes I [forget] there are people that think I represent a town, a hood, a country. When I land [in Vega Baja], it feels super-dope, but it’s also a responsibility — people expect the best from you. That’s why, every time, I try to be like, I am just me. I’m being me, and if what I am [is what] you like, well, good.”