As we officially move into the autumn/winter season, one trend that was pushed during the fashion week previews for AW12 is a bit of a fashion oxymoron: the use of cropped sleeves in men’s knitwear. Obviously this is a bit of a sartorial contradiction, as when the chunky knitwear comes out for the colder months, the thought of short sleeves is relegated to the milder spring/summer season.

However unexpected and contradictory, this trend has been championed by high fashion designers and the fashion press alike, and the key to making it work, without risking frostbite of the forearms, is creative use of layering.

The Cropped Sleeves Trend

The biggest proponents of the cropped-sleeve knitwear trend at the AW12 Fashion Weeks were Calvin Klein Collection and Dolce & Gabbana.

The Calvin Klein Collection featured a series of round-neck, knitted jumpers with cropped sleeves paired with button-down white shirts and worn over thin, cotton long-sleeved pullovers – creating a successful layered effect.

Although the range of looks showcased at Calvin Klein followed a near identical formula, there was a wide selection of knits: from a black fleck-knit jumper to a waffle-knit version in pale grey to a beige/black check-pattern jumper. The overarching feel of each outfit proved to be fairly similar, but the variety in pattern and colour helped differentiated each look and provided some individuality, all the while hammering home the emphasis on creative layering:

Cropped Knitwear on The Calvin Klein AW12 Menswear Runways

The collection from Dolce & Gabbana, in terms of cropped sleeve knitwear, proved to be slightly more dynamic and contained garments/looks which were much more varied.

At the more casual end of the spectrum, there was a clear inspiration from the notion of the fisherman and hardy, outdoor work. The collection featured a chunky, waffle-knit, round-neck jumper in black with cropped sleeves, which was paired with a grey fleck flat cap and trousers. The difference here was there was no use of layering – the cropped-sleeve jumper was featured in isolation, demonstrating that this type of knitwear can work on its own.

D&G also featured a cropped-sleeve jumper in dark grey with a contrast light grey neck-cuff and waistband. This jumper featured quite a rough finish on the edges, again emphasising a hardy, workwear feel. It was paired with several layers of thinner, long-sleeved pullovers in various tones of grey cotton:

Cropped Knitwear on The Dolce & Gabbana AW12 Menswear Runways

D&G even managed to prove that cropped-sleeve knitwear can work in a more formal environment. A v-neck, cropped sleeves, cable-knit jumper in charcoal grey was paired successfully with a white button-down shirt and a nonchalantly tied bow tie for an altogether smarter feel. This formal aesthetic was reinforced by the cropped-sleeve, chunky knit, shawl-neck cardigan in grey – which was again paired with a white shirt and patterned bow tie for a suave and sophisticated feel.

In The Fashion Press

In the fashion press, items of cropped sleeve knitwear have also made an impact. In particular, Esquire Magazine have featured cropped knitwear pieces in their editorials for both October and November 2012, which shows they really feel this trend will make an impact this season.

In fact, Esquire felt that the look pushed by Calvin Klein at their AW12 runway show did not require any tweaking at all; they created an exact copy, as modelled by Jamie Dornan [below right]:

Esquire Recent Editorials Featuring Cropped Knitwear

Current Cropped Pieces

Although the high street have been slow on the uptake of this trend (it may never translate), there are a variety of short sleeved knitted pieces that can still be utilised in much the same way – think polos, t-shirts and the like.

Why not get creative with your layering this year and experiment with the way you put outfits together? You could end up separating yourself from the masses and create a variety of unique looks that are full of character:

  • Topman Burgundy Knitted Polo T-shirtTopman Burgundy Knitted Polo T-shirt
  • Topman Navy Heavyweight Polo ShirtTopman Navy Heavyweight Polo Shirt
  • Plectrum By Ben Sherman Knit Polo ShirtPlectrum By Ben Sherman Knit Polo Shirt
  • Topman Fudge Polka Dot Short Sleeve SweatshirtTopman Fudge Polka Dot Short Sleeve Sweatshirt
  • Topman Brown/black Marl Short Sleeve SweatshirtTopman Brown/black Marl Short Sleeve Sweatshirt
  • 3.1 Phillip Lim Crewneck3.1 Phillip Lim Crewneck
  • Sasquatchfabrix Mens Amish Quilt SweaterSasquatchfabrix Mens Amish Quilt Sweater
  • Dries Van Noten Mens Miami Knit TopDries Van Noten Mens Miami Knit Top
  • American Apparel California Fleece SweatshirtAmerican Apparel California Fleece Sweatshirt
  • American Apparel Mock Neck TeeAmerican Apparel Mock Neck Tee
  • Antonio Azzuolo High NeckAntonio Azzuolo High Neck
  • Sacai Mens Double Fabric T-shirtSacai Mens Double Fabric T-shirt
  • Maison Martin Margiela 14 CrewneckMaison Martin Margiela 14 Crewneck
  • American Apparel Reversible Easy SweaterAmerican Apparel Reversible Easy Sweater
  • Mauro Grifoni Short Sleeve CardiganMauro Grifoni Short Sleeve Cardigan
Final Word

So how do you guys feel about rocking a cropped sleeve in the winter? Is a short sleeve something that should remain popular only in the warmer spring/summer months? Or do you think that pairing a cropped sleeve with creative layering techniques could be a fashion hit?

As always, we welcome your thoughts and opinions.