It has been said, fashion is what you buy, style is what you do with it. Rahul Bubber spotlights this season’s fashion trends that veer from haute couture to streetwear
Fashion began as soon as humans started wearing clothes. But men’s fashion has evolved from utilitarian to design only in the last 600 years or so. In that time, we have moved from tailored robes, collars, brocade and fancy shoes to, you guessed it, the same thing today! Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme. The French have a way with words. The line roughly translates to—change is constant but not new (forgive the heavy handed translation but you get the gist).
Couturiers recently presented exciting new trends from haute couture to street, from ’80s inspired knitwear to Kanye West’s earth-toned collection for Yeezy (KW is now a fashion designer, trend-setter and of course—perhaps most famously—the rapping better half of one Mrs. Kim Kardashian West). Most importantly, things are becoming more wearable, even at the tailored end of the market and while I do mourn the extinction of the tie, I welcome the new aesthetic of luxe sneakers, easy-fit trousers and smarter casual.
High shine fabrics are also one of the new trends. They have been seen in Milan, Paris and New York. The ubiquitous silk shirt is the most obvious way to get on trend but leather(ish) trousers, silken outerwear and other mirror-like or metallic finishes were shown by Katie Eary, Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein and Versace. Although most of the examples of this exuberant finish were for urban winter wear, the opportunities to accessorise or layer up even for the warmer climes is there. A swish, metallic ganji with a silk kerchief around your neck anyone?
This trend was further carried forward in the examples of ironic kitsch as shown by Prada and Gucci Loewe. Silky Snoopy t-shirts with bright backgrounds under a shiny suit; star-crossed lovers emblazoned across a mock-bowling shirt to colourful palm trees on a white shirt paired with loose, slouchy wool trousers seem to have an ’80s vibe. It’s a celebration of shiny kitsch with a modern twist.
A bold conclusion to this movement was the re-appearance of smooth pyjama shirts and trousers as outerwear, as displayed by Roberto Cavalli, Gucci and Valentino. The latter made his supremely wearable version with a black roll-neck underneath and a deep black, tuxedo collared overcoat on top. Not necessarily the party-wear of choice for the conservatives among us but a look that works if you have the gumption to give it a go.
Neck-kerchiefs, in all their glory, also made a comeback, more so in Paris but equally represented in London and Milan as well. From simple bandanas to kitschy, cotton-silk mixes bursting with colour, Valentino, Hermes and Vivienne Westwood—among others—showed us how to commit to this look. Whether with jeans or a more tailored structured look, the neck-kerchief is the new man-scarf. Ms. Westwood paired it with her signature patterned boots worn over a layered look of contrasting print cardigans and deep velvet wool overcoats.
Coach and Bally showed knitted t-shirts as a light layering effect, thrown over shirts and t-shirts. They slipped wonderfully well under slouchy, loungy suits and even over fine roll-neck sweaters. Prada, Zegna and Missoni all offered beautifully constructed ribbed knits. Open shawl collared cardigans on top of a striped sweater or black knit shirts surmounted by dark gray knit sweaters and pants for the mono-chromatic look, the look takes all comers and is a perennial favourite.
I personally love the move towards ‘smarter casual’ and mixing street with tailored. I have to applaud the recent trend of taking track-suits to a couture level. While athleisure seems to be de rigeur today with most of the hoodie and sandal wearing tech crowd, it is great to see it in a fashion environment as well. Christopher Kane, Gucci and Kenzo showcased this perfectly with their jeans and top combos, tailored pants and crisp track-jackets and a memorable Beatles-inspired copper onesie with a white stripe down the pants leg.
The puffer jacket has long been a staple of rappers, lumberjacks and truck-drivers. This versatile and utilitarian piece of clothing is going from strength to remarkable strength. Dior Homme, Burberry and Lanvin showcased the puffer perfectly in a variety of styles, fabrics and cuts.
From a colour palette point of view, apart from the usual mono-chromatic black and gray, this season’s standout colours seem to be copper, pink and green. Copper or rust really stood out at Canali and Topman Design with shirts under tailored suits, lounge coats, trenches and more. Kenzo, Paul Smith and Moschino were whimsical with pink as a standout at their shows. Pink corduroy suits with hiking boots, a bright pink half-trench worn with rust pants and a green sweater (see what I mean about these colours) were just a few of the examples seen. Green certainly seems to be the new brown for this season. Hats, gloves, suits, jeans, shoes, jackets and scarves were all screaming for attention in many collections.
Nowhere else did this profusion of earth-tones come out more than in the glorious resurgence of plaid and tartan. Raf Simons, Bottega Veneta, Junya Watanabe, Brioni and Fendi displayed the pattern at their shows. Pink, electric blue, bottle green, aubergine, copper and every other colour on the palette was used. For overcoats as comfortable as shaggy as Saint Bernards, sharply cut 3-piece suits, unstructured jackets worn with solid trousers and bowling shoes, tartan and plaid made a statement this year. It was a celebration!
Another major change obvious in most of the collections was that they were less and less suit focussed. The tailoring was looser but still sharp so that the look was still elegant—but loungy—and not sloppy, even for major suit players like Giorgio Armani and Ermenegildo Zegna.
Street fashion gave us a wonderful opportunity to bring some spring into the cold. Floral prints are back and even though they can be a bit overwhelming for most men to carry off as a full look, we can still do floral pocket squares, neck-kerchiefs, knit t-shirts as statement pieces that carry the whole ensemble. The street also seems to be continuing its love affair with shearling in formal and casual styles—denim and shearling seem to go together like gin and tonic. Finally, bold graphics and slogans appeared as a standard feature on jackets in bold hues. This is a look for the fearless and humourous, it requires commitment and an ability to not take yourself too seriously.
As I mentioned at the start of the article, we have come full circle in men’s fashion. Accessories have not been left behind. The preponderance of items that showcase an individual’s take on style have only become more lavish in this year’s shows. Beautiful felt fedoras, insouciant berets, statement gloves, embellished bombers and luxury sneakers are just some of the quirky ways that you can make a personal statement—from Yeezy’s earth-toned bomber to a chunky Louis Vuitton sneaker or Prada’s two-tone lace-up. As men continue to learn to accessorise, this trend more than any other has the legs to become ubiquitous. It defines the evolution of men’s fashion like no other.
In this time of Brexit, demonitisation, the potential end of globalisation and other worldly matters that take much of our time, I would like to leave you with these succinct words from Mark Twain: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society”. Stay dressed!