They were the metrosexuals, men in their late twenties happy to embrace their feminine side. They were in relationships and many had children, but they weren't afraid to wear make-up, garish earrings and even sarongs.
Adherents - epitomised by the super-groomed David Beckham - were so obsessed with their appearance they crossed into such traditionally female domains as cosmetics and pampering treatments.
But now the metrosexuals are being elbowed aside. Here come the heteropolitans: men perfectly at ease with themselves, fathers who prefer nights in with their families to nights out on the tiles; guys who prefer shorts to skirts and whose skin only changes colour if they have been out in the sun. Typical alpha heteropolitans are Thierry Henry, David Cameron and Kanye West.
According to a new report, heteropolitan man is a "potential goldmine" for companies cashing in on this shift in male perceptions of image.
Globally, male cosmetic product sales are forecast to grow 18 per cent by 2011. Heteropolitan man will be spending record amounts on gyms, cookery books, electronics, clothes, home furnishings and expensive holidays, says the market analyst Euromonitor.
With marketing firms increasingly keen to divide men into distinct tribes, their targets can be forgiven for feeling confused and cynical about the latest labels: a bewildered minority wonder why they should care.
But increasingly, men do care. Psychologists say heteropolitans are driven by the human tendency to cope with life's diversity by categorising each other.
"We live in a pseudo pop-psychological age and anything like 'heteropolitan' sounds terribly valid," said Dr Aric Sigman, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society.
"This is very managed masculinity that comes with designer stubble and a feigned interest in football, when your social background has no link with any of it. It's distracting from what's really going on, which is that people are becoming more atomised and narcissistic."
That "luxury of narcissism" came with the explosion of credit that transformed the Britain of the 1970s into a superficially affluent nation, he said.
French journalist Agnès Poirier suspects that, far from needing a label, smarter-looking men were simply a consequence of globalisation, having rubbed off nations where style was high on the agenda.
"In France it's just the norm. Looking good is a cultural thing," she said. "But in Britain there's this idea that looking good is slightly suspicious."
Actor Jude Law, 34, sports classic British Savile Row and Ozwald Boateng tailoring, and carries a manbag. He has had anti-ageing oxygen facials and was a client of grooming expert Mira Hyde.
Designer, author and Channel 4 TV presenter Kevin McCloud, 48, wears understated jeans, smart jumper, hard hat and leather jacket. Only wears make-up when appearing on camera.
Further browsing: "The Metrosexual Guide to Style" by Michael Flocker
Quiz: Are you a heteropolitan?
Your tan is from...
A L'Oréal; B Ibiza; C Johnson's Holiday Skin - but only because it came free with the baby wipes
How long do you spend in the bathroom before a night out?
A Longer than you'll spend actually being out; B Long enough to do a few gruff press-ups and kill a spider; C Nights in are the new nights out.
The football team you support is playing. You are:
A Watching carefully to see who has the most attractive new haircut; B Watching from the pub with 15 pints of Stella and enjoying manly hugs with your friends before going for a curry; C Watching the baby while the wife gives the kids a bath, and working on your manifesto pledge for family tax credits.
When you watch 'Location, Location, Location' you find yourself wondering...
A Where Phil Spencer gets those lovely cashmere sweaters that show off his pecs so well; B Whether Kirstie Allsopp wears stockings or tights; C How the prices of four-bedroom homes in commuter towns in the Wallops can be so bloody steep.
Your girlfriend has gone out for the night. You:
A Raid her make-up bag; B Fleece your mates at poker; C Put the kids to bed and watch 'How Clean is Your House?'
Oh no! You've been too busy waxing and grooming to notice that metrosexuality has gone completely out of fashion.
Grr! You're a real übersexual man - and not in a gay way.
Hello David Cameron; nice to find you reading the 'IoS'. Now, they call you heteropolitan; once they just called you a smug git.
Katy GuestReuse content