Who would have thought two years ago that men’s fashion would not only have equal pegging on the catwalk, but also be outselling women’s on the high street? The brightest young things are choosing to dress men and, more and more so, womenswear seems to have distinctly lost its edge. Young girls are throwing on blokes t-shirts with 501s - do they even buy women’s clothes anymore?
With this in mind, men, chic androgyns and general scruffs headed over to the finest parts of their respective towns to witness the launch of 2014’s spring/summer collections.
Across the river in Europe, there was a sense of restraint and modesty – it was to be expected, given the ongoing financial crisis. London’s punk set reinterpreted street culture, again (that’s not necessarily a cuss), while the sober lot in Paris and Milan kept to a refined palette with less excess (also not a cuss). Tailoring dominated, with increasingly boyish appeal. It’s one thing to design suits for fancy fops dashing across to the city, brolly in hand, it’s quite another to get a ne’er-do-well art student trading in their jeans for a pair of crisp trousers.
But the new collections, for example at Paul Smith and Zegna, seemed to have that appeal. Less formal, they paid an emphasis on the casual and understated – leading Zegna’s Stefano Pilato to be described recently as having “serious fashion chops”. Suits were often double-breasted and in everyday grey, teal or playful brights and patterns – the collections were more reminiscent of mods and schoolboys than uptight CEOs. Combined with knits, checked wool coats or classic macs, models looked relaxed, sharp and pretty old school. Tailored shorts also took to the spotlight, exposing lovely slim model legs. A word of warning: these shorts might not look so spectacular on more robust looking calves.
Elsewhere, sportswear was still popular but leaning more towards leisurewear or beach steez than the Olympic-influenced styles of last year. Christopher Raeburn carried on with last season’s popular explorer sentiment, bringing in puffa gilets and herringbone jackets for well-seasoned or imposter traveller. Astrid Anderson developed his basketball gear from 2013 with lace vests in unusual camo print, white shorts and a mint green take on the velour tracksuit. There were even pec-exposing crop tops on what looked like oiled up kids from the gym or the boxing ring – as at Nasir Mazhar - just your average homoerotic day down the courts. KTZ had also assembled a basketball team of sorts, this time with an Arabian feel, a harem of hippie balling Arabs – in a sentence. And Christopher Shannon threw the paint bucket at their collection of bombers, sports shorts and… buttoned up shirts with 70s lapels? Yep. It worked.
Where across the water focused on casual tailoring fit for the city or the Riviera, London continued along the 90s path well-trodden. It’s been getting baggier every season, and now reached straight up (fashion) baggy – bucket hats, tie-dye, and oversized t-shirts. Neu-nu-rave? Craig Green went head to toe dip-die, continuing with his ‘light and shadow’ theme from his last collection in another refreshing case of fashion continuity. Across the Fashion East collections, it was put forward that colour was nothing to fear. Same at Agi and Sam. The pair combined tailoring with bold colours and prints and perfect cuts – baggy up top and shrunk down the bottom.
Bobby Abley followed up his zany spaceman show with another childhood fantasy theme – this time, medieval knights with a fetishist twist. Kudos for going against the rave culture grain. Christopher Kane was another seeming to exist outside of the London mould – his collection was a graphic experiment in science and technology, using primary colours set against a monochrome backdrop in what looked like items designed by an android. J.W Anderson also kept it ultra-modern with his laser cut vests and wide leg trousers, also seen at Martine Rose, which looked decidedly Japanese. The collection was hardly summery, except for the few gender-bending articles like silk halter-necks that could have been plucked from the shelves of Dorothy Perkins in 1998. Obviously it worked in a weird way, though… I think?
All in all, men’s fashion week was a complete mess success. It was impossible to predict what was coming, especially in London. Dead exciting! Pull your finger out, ladies.