Introduction

During this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games’ opening ceremonies, as the athletes flooded into the stadium and the announcer boomed the names of countries enthusiastically out of the surrounding speakers, I don’t think I was alone in thinking, ‘Where?!’ when the name of ‘Benin’ echoed throughout the stadium.

A quick search on the Internet finds a small West African country that struggles economically, yet has one of Africa’s most stable democracies and a village dubbed ‘The Venice of Africa’. I’d suddenly discovered something amazing, something new.

I admit that knowing each and every country taking part in the Olympic and Paralympic games is as difficult and as pointless as naming each member of S Club 7. However, I also think that countries like Benin should be known; just like we know exactly where France is on the map and that it has a tower called Eiffel.

The same is true of the Benin’s of the fashion world. Those designers that are the next big thing or are well known to those in the front row, but perhaps not a name that is so common amongst the high street crowd; designers that can provide real inspiration to us here at FashionBeans, but maybe need to be revealed to some of you guys first.

In this article, I hope to make some of you aware of these perhaps not so well known designers and brands, whose clothes are also useful in developing our own personal style. Some of these are really big names in ‘The Fashion World’, while others are less well known – with their star set to rise soon and deserving of notice. So, with my most enthusiastic voice, let the designers enter the stadium…

5 Menswear Designers You Should Know
1. Ann Demeulemeester

Ann Demeulemeester

We’ll start with one of those big names that is always a highlight of any fashion week. Belgian designer Ann Demeulemeester is known as one of the ‘Antwerp Six’ as she was amongst a talented group of designers that graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp during the 1980s.

Since then, Demeulemeester’s dark and experimental style has become her trademark, a theme reoccurring in almost every collection throughout her career. Often using airy and loose fabrics, Demeulemeester’s models are described as androgynous but are really a genderless creature – elevating them to some kind of superior gender, housing the positive traits from the male and female.

Her latest spring/summer 2013 collection has kept that typical Demeulemeester vein but with some slight floral patterning and metallic colour, creating a Bronte style man with a brooding, dark romanticism and a feeling of vulnerability.

Ann Demeulemeester:

  • Ann Demeulemeester Mens Black Dipped Back ShirtAnn Demeulemeester Mens Black Dipped Back Shirt
  • Ann Demeulemeester Gradient Feather-print ShirtAnn Demeulemeester Gradient Feather-print Shirt
  • Ann Demeulemeester Gradient Feather-print JacketAnn Demeulemeester Gradient Feather-print Jacket
  • Ann Demeulemeester Unstructured BlazerAnn Demeulemeester Unstructured Blazer
  • Ann Demeulemeester Mens Exuba WaistcoatAnn Demeulemeester Mens Exuba Waistcoat
  • Ann Demeulemeester Mens Front Pleat ShortsAnn Demeulemeester Mens Front Pleat Shorts

Inspired By Pieces:

  • Marc By Marc Jacobs Mens End On End Poplin ShirtMarc By Marc Jacobs Mens End On End Poplin Shirt
  • Allsaints Bale CoatAllsaints Bale Coat
  • Bellerose Navy Check Lawler MacBellerose Navy Check Lawler Mac
  • Topman Grey Chambray Skinny TrousersTopman Grey Chambray Skinny Trousers
  • Izzue Chino With Roll UpIzzue Chino With Roll Up
  • Topman Charcoal Wool Trench CoatTopman Charcoal Wool Trench Coat
2. Walter Van Beirendonck

Walter Van Beirendonck

Another member of the ‘Antwerp Six’, Van Beirendonck’s clothing has a much different feel to those of Demeulemeester. Whilst Demeulemeester’s collections have a vein of dark tones running through them all, Van Beirendonck’s collections are kaleidoscopic, with myriads of colour and clothes that are deceptive, and not always what they first appear to be.

His collections are often unsettlingly beautiful, the eye needing time to fully digest what it sees. Different coloured suits blend seamlessly, engulfing part of the shirt and trousers in colour but leaving the rest, creating what looks like a smaller suit within a bigger one. It’s a technique that has become a staple of Van Beirendonck’s shows, which really are a spectacle of art, imagination and surrealism.

Walter Van Beirendonck:

  • Walter Van Beirendonck Long Sleeve ShirtWalter Van Beirendonck Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Walter Van Beirendonck Long Sleeve ShirtWalter Van Beirendonck Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Walter Van Beirendonck SuitWalter Van Beirendonck Suit
  • Walter Van Beirendonck CrewneckWalter Van Beirendonck Crewneck
  • Walter Van Beirendonck Bow TieWalter Van Beirendonck Bow Tie
  • Walter Van Beirendonck Formal TrouserWalter Van Beirendonck Formal Trouser

Inspired By Pieces:

  • Topman Aztec Patch Denim WesternTopman Aztec Patch Denim Western
  • Topman Light Wash Denim Check Western JacketTopman Light Wash Denim Check Western Jacket
  • Allsaints Blixa ShirtAllsaints Blixa Shirt
  • Allsaints Tricolor ShirtAllsaints Tricolor Shirt
  • Carhartt Orange Heather Anglistic SweaterCarhartt Orange Heather Anglistic Sweater
  • Tommy Hilfiger Lincoln SweaterTommy Hilfiger Lincoln Sweater
3. Andrea Pompilio

Andrea Pompilio

Having created his eponymous label in 2010, Andrea Pompilio is a much anticipated show each and every fashion week. The Italian designer’s shows contain no apparent theme like other designers’ works often do. Instead, Pompilio’s looks could have been inspired by the huge current interest in street style – through blogs like The Sartorialist and our very own dedicated section.

Pompilio creates looks that appeal not only to the fashion elite, but also to the average man, even those uninterested in fashion. His looks often use layering and oversizing to create a look of comfort and style that appears very natural. these are accessible clothes meant to be worn everyday, from grocery shopping to going to visit a mate.

Andrea Pompilio:

  • Andrea Pompilio CrewneckAndrea Pompilio Crewneck
  • Andrea Pompilio SweatshirtAndrea Pompilio Sweatshirt
  • Andrea Pompilio BlazerAndrea Pompilio Blazer
  • Andrea Pompilio Casual TrouserAndrea Pompilio Casual Trouser
  • Andrea Pompilio Denim TrousersAndrea Pompilio Denim Trousers
  • Andrea Pompilio MoccasinsAndrea Pompilio Moccasins

Inspired By Pieces:

  • Topman Navy Wool Skinny Fit PeacoatTopman Navy Wool Skinny Fit Peacoat
  • Vintage Surplus Mystical SweatshirtVintage Surplus Mystical Sweatshirt
  • Carhartt Blue Heather Anglistic SweaterCarhartt Blue Heather Anglistic Sweater
  • Our Legacy 1950s Printed Cotton-twill ShirtOur Legacy 1950s Printed Cotton-twill Shirt
  • Vintage Surplus Wildlife SweatshirtVintage Surplus Wildlife Sweatshirt
  • Dockers Alpha Khaki Mule Deer TrousersDockers Alpha Khaki Mule Deer Trousers
4. Henrik Vibskov

Henrik Vibskov

In a similar way to Andrea Pompilio, Scandinavian designer Henrik Vibskov’s clothing is not highly sculptural, nor features the classic tailored pieces associated with designers like Dolce & Gabbana, Armani or Van Beirendonck’s mesmerising suits. Unlike Pompilio, Vibskov’s pieces move further away from street style and closer to an art exhibition, with the catwalk acting as a stage or installation piece for the models to interact within.

His clothing are often made from traditional materials but cut uniquely to create a new, unusual garment. Different textures and colours are layered to provide a very rock ‘n’ roll edge to these simple designs, elevating them from clothing into art.

Henrik Vibskov:

  • Henrik Vibskov Lightness Front Print T-shirtHenrik Vibskov Lightness Front Print T-shirt
  • Henrik Vibskov Overhead Cotton Twill ShirtHenrik Vibskov Overhead Cotton Twill Shirt
  • Henrik Vibskov Many Colour Feather Print ShirtHenrik Vibskov Many Colour Feather Print Shirt
  • Henrik Vibskov Off Fly Away Black PantsHenrik Vibskov Off Fly Away Black Pants
  • Henrik Vibskov Tact Petroleum SweaterHenrik Vibskov Tact Petroleum Sweater
  • Henrik Vibskov Tobias TrousersHenrik Vibskov Tobias Trousers

Inspired By Pieces:

  • Topman Blue Baroque Print ShirtTopman Blue Baroque Print Shirt
  • Topman Pattern Tiger Print Crew TeeTopman Pattern Tiger Print Crew Tee
  • Topman Tmd Grey Chunky Textured JumperTopman Tmd Grey Chunky Textured Jumper
  • Carhartt Accent Inside Out Knit SweaterCarhartt Accent Inside Out Knit Sweater
  • Undercover Printed Cotton TrousersUndercover Printed Cotton Trousers
  • Topman Burgundy Print TrousersTopman Burgundy Print Trousers
5. Acne

Acne

If there’s one designer/label from the five in this article that you should know already, it’s Acne. Having recently worked at one of Britain’s favourite luxury department stores, I can tell you that this Swedish brand have become a huge hit with the men of Britain due to their simple, crisp and modern take on menswear design. Beginning as a denim brand, Acne (standing for ‘Ambition to Create Novel Expression’) soon amassed a huge cult following, now becoming one of the highlights of both the men and women’s fashion weeks.

Working in mostly muted, earthy tones, Acne’s clothing is all about simplicity, helping create understated looks that really draw attention to the quality and composition of each individual item. There is a strong focus on the full outfit rather than each individual piece.

Acne:

  • Acne Isherwood Corduroy ShirtAcne Isherwood Corduroy Shirt
  • Acne Singer Wool And Mohair-blend SweaterAcne Singer Wool And Mohair-blend Sweater
  • Acne Grey Patterned Drifter BlazerAcne Grey Patterned Drifter Blazer
  • Acne Cassady Jacket 132268Acne Cassady Jacket 132268
  • Acne Isherwood Flannel Shirt 132379Acne Isherwood Flannel Shirt 132379
  • Acne Jam Vintage Slim-fit Washed-denim JacketAcne Jam Vintage Slim-fit Washed-denim Jacket
  • Acne Raw Ace Nelson Petrol Skinny JeansAcne Raw Ace Nelson Petrol Skinny Jeans
  • Acne Roth T-shirt 132538Acne Roth T-shirt 132538
  • Acne Roc Slim-fit Chino Trousers 132553Acne Roc Slim-fit Chino Trousers 132553
Conclusion

Hopefully the dense fog that is fashion is clearing slightly, now that you know some quick information about some of the best ‘underground’ designers around. Although every designer is different, each has something to offer your own personal style. Perhaps you’ll have a dark Demeulemeester day or a crisp Acne day next time you step out of the house.

Even those designers that adopt the more artistic approach like Van Beirendonck and Vibskov can prove inspiring, even if that means only picking out one item from a look/collection or a particular colour combination you like.

So next fashion week, why stop at Prada, Burberry and D&G? Dive right in and see what designers you find, you might just find a new favourite.