The magazine says its choice is "unconventional," but that, "Pope Francis's sartorial decisions have subtly signaled a new era (and for many, renewed hope) for the Catholic Church.
Earlier in December, Time magazine had chosen Pope Francis as its person of the year as did the gay advocacy magazine The Advocate.
Some of Esquire the readers in their comments do not believe the award is serious, however.
Announcing the award Esquire says, "While Bradley Cooper, Chris Pine, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have all had banner years, their sartorial choices begin and end on the proverbial red carpet."
The magazine quotes fashion experts justifying its choice, some of whom offer tongue-in-cheek observations.
Mark-Evan Blackman, assistant professor of menswear design at FIT, says Francis' "mode of dressing really does reflect the mindset behind it.
"I remember when John Paul II was buried in those opulent bright red shoes. When the current Pope was elected and chose not to wear the red shoes I thought that was very reflective of his approach to being a person functioning in a role."
The magazine noted that the pontiff has stood out for his symbolic gestures such as "paying his own bill at a hotel owned by the Church or washing the feet of inmates (two of whom were female) on Holy Thursday."
It says "the black shoes and unadorned, simplistic regalia are just an outward acknowledgement of his progressive orthodoxy."
Mary Lisa Gavenas, author of The Fairchild Encyclopedia of Menswear "Pope Francis understands that menswear is meant to express the character of the man wearing the clothes," says, before adding: "No rapper-style popewear for him."
Esquire says humbler dress has replaced the once opulent jewelry and fur-lined capes once worn by pontiffs.
It praises Francis for being an approachable pontiff and a Gospel tweeter who "takes selfies" and lives in a modest apartment "in a disguise to help the poor."
Ann Pellegrini, Associate Professor of Performance Studies & Religious Studies at New York University was quoted saying, "The humility of his garments offers a way to visibly display his theological and material concerns for the poor. This Holy Roman emperor really does have new clothes."
Jeannie Hurley comments, "Blessed Pope John Paul II was dressed in red for his funeral which was the symbolic color for the burial of Popes since the Byzantine era.
"However, most of the time, he wore the simpler white. Just like Benedict 16, who the media made out to be cold and indifferent, but is really a brilliant theologian. Pope Francis' humility is definitely something to be admired and emulated, but please do not malign former popes for their choice of dress."
Peggy Staley notes, "Boy does Esquire look stupid in their backhanded attempt to thumb their nose at the Catholic Church. The red shoes were not a fashion statement; they were a reminder to Popes past of the blood of the martyrs. Bring back the red shoes, Pope Francis...you are not of this world!"