Published: Thu 17 Nov 2022, 19:17
Post-Covid the world has turned and with the work-from-home culture taking precedence, an exciting segment has emerged: luxury streetwear. This has kindly prompted men to finally say goodbye to ties, cufflinks, pocket squares, and serious, predictable grays and blues. According to Businesswire, the global menswear market was valued at $533.3 billion in 2021 and will reach $746.9 billion by 2027.
Activewear and athleisure will dominate, says Raffaello Napoleone, founder of Pitti Uomo, the largest menswear trade show held in Italy twice a year. This is marked by Paul Smith launching a youth line PS by Paul Smith with ergonomic cuts and Z Zegna by Ermenegildo Zegna, a millennial-friendly athleisure line.
At the recently concluded Arab Men’s Fashion Week, Lebanese designer Ahmed Amer showed how wearing men’s suits with sports jerseys is the future and used his talents as an illustrator to elevate simple ensembles. Dubai designer Zaid Farouki added hand painting with “I am Arab” on dresses that bridged the gap between traditional and modern. Inspired by Franz Kafka, French designer Louis Gabriel Nouchi offered sweatpants, played with volume and, of course, made sure that white was ubiquitous with T-shirts.
Internationally, Dior’s Kim Jones has mixed sport/street looks, with knitwear, chevron stripes and corduroy, although what’s stealing hearts is the “double denim” – jacket with matching jeans, just what Louis Vuitton has offered for AI/22. This was followed by a darker tone by Kenzo and Moschino added quilted patches to his beloved denim. Maverick Dries Van Noten added soft suits, minus the structure as men now work from their bedrooms and not meeting rooms. However, hoodies and sweatpants are still the favorites, as stretchy and comfortable are the mantra of machine washable blazers! Some designers were daring enough to add Barbie pink to men’s wardrobes like Dolce & Gabbana, while Etro embellished the velvet for AW ’22, saying goodbye to the shine.
Gucci clothes have been renewed
Menswear designer Pawan Sachdeva believes formals are now limited to weddings and red carpets. “The young working generation prefers athleisure, oversized and anti-fit clothes: joggers, parallel bars, flared pants, shirts with three-quarter sleeves, eye-popping prints and dropped shoulders for ease,” she adds.
He attributes the recent menswear revolution to social media and inherent “selfie rage.” With the travel industry opening up after a two-year slump, the desire for laid-back clothing has multiplied exponentially. There has also been a distinct shift in fabrics: soft linens, spandex, lycra and cotton blends, mostly moving away from the heavyweight wool associated with this segment. Embroidered tuxedos, and this year, leather and faux leather have been added to up the ante, by Sachdeva, following greats like Prada. “Pavan says.
Bolder prints, a mix of joggers and trousers, sporty details, body-cut motifs, relaxed fits and variable lengths, are what you also see universally with what the coveted label Gucci showcases with its cutting-edge stylist Alessandro Michael at the helm.
Men’s clothing, an unsaturated market, has seen tectonic shifts with frenetic experimentation. With no set template, it’s this aspect that makes it super exciting. This is why the Fashion Design Council of India started a menswear week in 2008 with a three day presentation. It met with a lukewarm response, says FDCI chairman Sunil Sethi, as the men then weren’t ready for the giant leap. ring,” he explains. Sleeveless has been a norm with Erdem, and his smart vest styles are emerging as a strong trend, he adds. In Arab Men’s Fashion Week, the shift to robes and capes was evident, courting layering while the The Emergency Room label told us to serenade sustainability with spare materials.
The awesome Fendi has put pearls on men along with tiny bags and Shantanu Mehra of brand Shantanu and Nikhil admits military details, pleats and pin tucking are now the coolest ingredients for menswear. “Sport is the new chic mixed with minimalism. Men want simple clothing that can take them from day to night and that doesn’t require too many changes. They just want some additions like an interesting jacket for the evening, if they’re out to dinner with friends,” says Shantanu.
SN of Shantanu and Nikhil
Now they’re bold enough to try layers, pins, badges, and have even woken up to typography on T-shirts or varsity shirts (like Burberry and Rhude) as a form of self-expression. “There has been a culture of rebellion in menswear dressing, with Gucci, Balenciaga and Prada making streetwear powerful. There is also a bit of irreverence in this uncrowded space, as the material explorations are consistent with the attempts to find something that offers function and fun. Therefore, knits and ‘liquid cotton’ that move along the body providing unmatched comfort to the wearer, like Ralph Lauren, are preferred,” he adds.
Covid was a game changer: the briefcase has now been replaced with the backpack, duffle bags and shoulder bags, shoulder bags, baseball caps and beanies ushered in randomness. The whole shade is less masculine. “Everything has sort of relaxed,” says menswear designer Shyamal Shodhan. Men are ready to wear powder pink, mint green and aspire to stand out. Take the example of English singer-songwriter and One Direction bandmate Harry Styles who can be seen wearing skirts with jackets on the cover of US Vogue, photographed by Tyler Mitchell, channeling androgyny.
More recently, US actor Timothee Chalamet made history by being the only male star to grace the cover of British Vogue in 106 years. Known for his unconventional fashion choices, he has been photographed wearing a pearl necklace.
Styling in menswear has become a trendsetter, and the brains behind Styles’ look is the talented Harry Lambert, known for his fearless choices. Therefore, you see Styles in ruffled shirts, acid pants, sequined overalls, faux fur boas, polka dots, and canary yellow pantsuits.
“Men are ready to take risks even in formal wear, so we added oriental touches, collar variations, embroidered buttons and placket details. The wave is moving towards clothes that can be worn separately,” says Shyamal. He confesses that in the last 10 years he hasn’t given men ties, but a stole or a scarf. The key is the change in psychology: they have a keen interest for what they would like to wear.”They are deciding, not their wives, girlfriends or mothers,” he smiles.
Raghavendra Rathore studied womenswear at Parsons School of Design, USA, but when he began his journey in 1994, he quickly realized a few years later that it was actually menswear that fascinated him. Seeing the predictable herringbone, plaid and chunky wool, she aspired to offer experimental clothing with global appeal. So she started the project of reviving the jodhpurs and bandhgala which is now a staple for men all over the world. Jeff Bezos loves wearing this silhouette, even though from Paul Smith to Canali many global design houses have discovered the power of the bandhgala.
Fawad Khan in a bandhgala in a Khubsoorat alembic
“It’s time for boat shoes, keds, a well-dressed shirt, softer materials as Ermenegildo Zegna uses. It’s a farewell to structured looks in menswear,” Rathore says. He believes menswear is personality-driven, as men work for start-ups and from home rather than glass booths. Uniqlo with a pair of Versace jeans in sustainable fabrics, putting an end to the culture of polyester,” he concludes.
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