As I mentioned in my previous trend preview on metallics, even though the weather outside is frightful at the moment, designers and the high street alike are turning their attention to the upcoming spring/summer season. So, for the second of our SS13 previews, I want to direct your attention to one of the big upcoming colour trends for next season – the use of neons, fluorescents and altogether more vibrant colours.
As a 1980s/1990s youth, neon and fluorescent shades were no stranger to my childhood (anybody who can recall Global Hypercolour tees can probably testify to that). Colour has slowly been making its way into spring/summer menswear over the past few years, and the collections for SS13 have taken this new interest to the next level.
For me, the biggest and most successful advocate for neons and vibrant colours on the high fashion stage was Salvatore Ferragamo, whose SS13 collection was an explosion of colour that made use of both colour blocking and head-to-toe outfits in single bold hues.
Ferragamo utilised exciting shades of neon orange, vibrant icy blue and bright yellow, and even the footwear used in the showcase were multi-coloured sports shoes (a key footwear trend which we will breakdown over the coming weeks).
One of my favourite pieces from the collection was a tangerine belted trench coat – and this is coming from somebody who has always detested all shades of orange. However, the colour combination of flavoursome tangerine and royal blue worked beautifully well.
Another particularly memorable outfit by Ferragamo was the lemon yellow double-breasted suit, which was paired with a bright turquoise/yellow patterned pull-over, crisp white shirt and patterned tie.
Although this is certainly not the most wearable of looks for most businessmen or city workers, the look demonstrates that the palette works extremely well, helping create a fresh and summery feel. In the real world, we can take inspiration from these combinations and integrate splashes of colour in a slightly more subtle way.
Other high fashion designers to make use of neons, fluorescents and vibrant shades included Gucci and E Tautz.
Gucci featured bright orange, citrus green and vibrant magenta applied to both double- and single-breasted tailoring, all of which were polished off with crisp white shirts and patterned ties that echoed the colours within the main body of the suit. A bold approach, sure, but one that works effectively without becoming too brash.
The E Tautz collection was an interesting one, as it retained a British heritage appeal but added a twist by using non-traditional colours such as neon pink and fluorescent yellow.
The opening look on the runway featured a standard-setting neon pink cape, and the use of pink carried through the collection in the form of shirts, jackets, shorts and trousers. Bright yellow was also used in tees and knitwear, but it was paired with more sober tones of black and grey – making the overall use of vibrant colour much more subtle:
Now, I am sure there are some of you out there who read the title of this article and immediately thought “no, no – absolutely not – this will never take off”. And, trust me, although I think several of the high fashion designers worked well with the concept of neons and fluorescents, as with any trend, there is always the potential to do it wrong.
In my opinion, the SS13 collection from Topman Design represents an example where the use of neons simply didn’t work well. The collection applied neon brights and vibrant tones to a much more casual, skater-like look (again, this will be featured in a later article as another upcoming spring/summer trend), with a wide range of neon pinks/oranges and striking blues/reds applied to oversized tees with American football-style numbers emblazoned across the chest, complete with matching baggy shorts and neon beanie hats.
The collection also featured a slightly smarter look: a neon pink blazer with bright blue lining and perforated holes through the upper pink layer (to illustrate the statement blue beneath), paired with similar perforated shorts.
However, in my opinion, the overall aesthetic simply looked unkempt and scruffy. Although this may have been intentional to echo the relaxed, skater-like aesthetic, the collection and the sporadic use of neons and vibrant colours was overall underwhelming:
Turning to the fashion press, you may be surprised to learn that a lot of fashion writers and journalists are in support of the neon and fluorescent trend. In their SS13 Trend Report, Esquire magazine highlighted the impact of fluorescent shades for SS13 and picked out the Louis Vuitton neon luggage collection showcased in Paris and fluorescent lemon trousers and macs sent down the runway at Hermes as key pieces.
This love for the Hermes collection was echoed by the fashion writers at Shortlist magazine, whilst Details magazine share my enthusiasm for Salvatore Ferragamo’s neon collection and use of vivid colours. Similarly, the highlights from Paris Fashion Week for GQ magazine were Louis Vuitton’s luggage collection in ambitious neon shades, and the neon yellow trousers by Christian Lacroix.
Simon Chilvers, one of the senior fashion writers at The Guardian wrote: “Yellow is the new accent shade in men’s fashion. This trend began at the London shows and has been a fixture in both Milan and Paris.” The Guardian went on to share their delight at the bright statement tailoring from the Gucci collection becoming an emerging trend for SS13.
They also specifically made note of the rucksack collaboration between French brand Carven and Japanese luggage label Porter, which features a brilliant mash-up of texture, colour and pattern with neon splashes – demonstrating the ease of integrating neons and fluorescent shades within accessories.
Finally, in the interest of fairness, I want to feature the opinion expressed by Vogue online regarding the Topman Design collection. Contrary to my own thoughts, Vogue online found the Topman Design collection “bright, vibrant, punchy and unabashedly cool. This is the brand’s real milieu, the street its constant catwalk.”
Vogue argue that the looks showcased by Topman Design would easily transcend from runway to the high street, as the vibrant colours and bright neons tended to be paired with neutrals to achieve a harmonious look with a high level of wearability. The Vogue writers also noted their support for the neon knitted headwear – and although I still have my personal reservations on the collection as a whole, I can see how these beanie hats could have a certain appeal.
Turning to the high street and current collections, Topman have the neon knitted beanie hats showcased at the TMD collection, a neon yellow plaited belt and neon green/yellow shoelaces available to buy. They are also selling vibrant washed sweatshirts in neon yellow or pink, which look surprisingly wearable with washed denim.
Sticking with the high street, American Apparel is renowned for their continuous use of neons and fluorescents each and every season. It is an excellent starting point for those looking for neon basics such as tees and hoodies, especially if this trend is something that you intend to endorse within your own styling.
At the higher end of the market, Mr Porter are offering several neon accessories, including a stylish leather and felt backpack by Paul Smith with a striking neon green handle, Comme Des Garçons’ half-zip leather wallets in a selection of vibrant colours, and a fluorescent yellow Marc by Marc Jacobs iPhone case. Similarly, Oki-ni is offering a neon orange Nikon wristwatch, neon green patent shoes by Mugler and a variety of bold knitwear.
So there we have it, one of the biggest upcoming colour trends for SS13 is likely to be neon and fluorescent hues. But what do you think? Is the fashion world ready for a reversion back to 1980s/1990s inspired neons, or should styling for spring/summer remain more sober and muted?
Personally, although I agree that some of the looks showcased by designers in the SS13 shows wouldn’t work in real life, I can see that inspiration can be taken from the colour palettes and combinations utilised, as well as the colours being adapted and expressed in less exuberant, more wearable ways.
As always, we welcome your thoughts and musings below…