Tracing the lineage of the Collar-Pop Gene


You know a fashion trend is hitting it big when some hip-hop group makes a song about it. Ever since rappers Three 6 Mafia debuted their sophisticated study in American urban streetwear, “Poppin’ My Collar,” earlier this year, lapels nationwide have been standing taller and more regally than ever before. That isn’t to say that the song put collar-popping on the map, however, rather it enunciated its coolness and made it universally acceptable among all those hard knocks that might have been a little hesitant. But in order to truly understand the collar-pop phenomenon, one must first study the historical context from which the trend arose. Who was that first guy who, with the suaveness and coolness and self-assuredness of Agent-007 himself, first got the idea to flip his collar upward instead of downward, and what was his motivation?

The first thing we must realize about popped collars is their widespread breadth: Google produced 1.8 million results for the query “collar popping.” Through extensive research I’ve traced collar-popping back to its earliest days, perhaps even to its origin: Count Dracula. thinking anthropologically, we cannot be absolutely certain in our accusation of Mr. Dracula as being suspect zero, but we can draw conclusions as to why he may very well have been. First, as commonly known by everyone, vampires do indeed melt when exposed to direct natural sunlight, and, like all living things, carry in their genetic code special instructions intended to help them avoid harm, which, in Mr. Dracula’s case, would direct him to avoid sunlight. And since of course there were no clothiers catering exclusively to vampires during his time, it would only make sense that Mr. Dracula would improvise with the average-Joe clothing he could find. By turning up the collars of his department store-brought dress shirts and woolen car coats, he cleverly protected his neck and chin region from sun exposure, Thereby preventing his premature death. secondly, Mr. Dracula most probably popped the collars of his victims, from the necks of whom he gathered sustenance, to conceal the evidence of his carnivorous crimes. Finally, the popped-collar likely cast a rather unnerving set of shadows upon Mr. Dracula’s face, which ultimately led to his looking far more dangerous and devious than he would have otherwise looked with candlelight flowing softly and unimpeded over his visage.

Transylvanian scientists concur that the Collar-Pop gene was passed down through generations as vampires continued biting more people, victims who became more vampires and continued to bite more people. Although the gene is recessively-inherited, it’s actually quite simple to determine whether or not one expresses or carries the mutation. An affected person can often be found sporting a pique polo shirt, most likely in a pastel hue, with the collar standing crisply upright. Carriers are marked by their compulsive urges to iron their collars, and are oftentimes heavily distressed if they find a flopped – rather than popped-collar. Additionally, collar-poppers are virtually unaware of their symptoms, and find their actions to be normal, usually blaming the shortcomings of their flaccid collars not on themselves, but on the brands that make them – most notably Abercombie and Fitch, J. Crew, Ralph Lauren and Lacoste.

Says Maria Delcourt, a carrier of the mutation, of how she takes to her collars falling limp during the day: “(I feel) down-right upset. That collar was made to stay up . . . Abercrombie did a bad job in the fabrication of the collar. I’m blaming it on the (manufacturers) – may starch is in proper working order . . .” As Delcourt’s comment shows, denial of improper collar preparation is a marked symptom of Collar-Pop gene expression.

Recently, there seems to have been an influx in those affected with the gene, which has been shown to target young, urban and suburban teenagers and twentysomethings of the the MTV generation. Manufacturers are taking notice of this strange twist on the gene pool, and are delighted to report that the polo shirt sales comprised about 18 percent of the GNP in 2005. This number is expected to rise considerably in the coming years, especially considering President Bush’s aversion of genetic research, it’s possible that the Collar-Pop gene will become permanently embedded into the human gene pool.