2014’s Top Menswear Moments
That we spent several hours bickering over what should actually appear in this list is testament to the fact that men’s style is no longer merely having a moment, but is rather an increasingly important fixture in the fashion industry, gaining cultural traction and generating plenty of money.
Here, we review menswear’s most memorable moments in 2014…
Mid-Market Menswear From Whistles
This year, Whistles joined a growing list of brands, like Jigsaw and Toast, launching new men’s collections in the hopes of replicating their success in the womenswear arena.
Whistles’ debut menswear collection, designed by Design Director Nick Passmore, launched into twenty-two stores nationwide for the autumn/winter 2014 season, containing over 100 pieces ranging from a grey cashmere tracksuit to a black sheepskin flying jacket.
With Jane Shepherdson (credited for overhauling Topshop as its brand director) at the helm as Chief Executive, Whistles is definitely the high street brand to watch. It’s early days, but the first drop was promising, and the upcoming SS15 collection – exclusively revealed by FashionBeans – looks even better.
Whistles AW14 Lookbook
Whistles SS15 Lookbook
Craig Green’s Come Up
It’s not often that a burgeoning designer moves an audience of hardened, cynical and (probably) hungover fashion press and buyers to tears. But London-based Central Saint Martins graduate Craig Green managed just that at his first solo show in June.
While Green had shown his collections before as part of Topman and Fashion East’s MAN initiative, 2014 marked his first dedicated appearance on the London Collections: Men schedule. Having received rave reviews and won Emerging Menswear Designer of the Year at November’s British Fashion Awards, Green is rapidly cementing a place on the show circuit for his heavily conceptual, sculptural work.
On first glance his designs might not seem especially wearable, but strip away the spring/summer 2015 show’s sometimes lofty styling and you’re left with simple, studied garments. Likened to visionaries including Rei Kawakubo and Vivienne Westwood, Craig Green was undoubtedly 2014’s one to watch.
Year Of The Collaborations
Was there a brand that didn’t put forward a collaboration of some kind in 2014? Once the preserve of high street giants H&M and Topman, these designer team-ups have reconfigured the menswear landscape, prompting unexpected pairings that result in fast-selling collections.
One of this year’s collabs of note was Marks & Spencer’s partnership with globally renowned British male model David Gandy, who added a significant dose of sex appeal to the retailer’s humdrum briefs.
Elsewhere, sportswear super brand adidas teamed up with Barbour to bring the latter’s outdoor heritage to a younger, urban demographic.
And, of course, there was Pharrell, who pretty much collaborated with everyone.
Menswear Dog’s Iconic Instagram
Move over Grumpy Cat, 2014 was the year that self-proclaimed ‘Most Stylish Dog in the World’, Menswear Dog, hit the social media big time. And with over 161,000 Instagram followers, it’s clear that this pooch is taking no prisoners in the style stakes.
Also known as Bodhi, Menswear Dog is a five-year-old Shiba Inu that lives in New York City with his owners Yena Kim and David Fung, and reportedly earns a whopping $15,000 a month from modelling gigs.
Just this past year, the charismatic canine has sported the finest menswear brands – from Victorinox and Ted Baker to Brooks Brothers and ASOS. It truly is a dog’s (stylish) life.
Discovering London’s Duke Street
Central London became home to an all-new menswear destination this year, with the revamping of Duke Street. This prime piece of Mayfair real estate wasn’t on our shopping radar before, but following the launch of Jigsaw’s flagship store (below) and a new branch of Chelsea fashion and interiors fixture The Shop at Bluebird, it’s made its mark on the retail map.
Most recently, E. Tautz opened its first standalone store on Duke St., while Manchester-born menswear brand Private White V.C. soon followed suit. In a city that often caters for the moneyed globetrotter, Duke St. is a refreshingly British menswear haven that prizes considered design and lasting quality over conspicuously flashy luxury.
Once a daring style statement, the beard has – due to its ubiquity in 2014 – quickly become a run-of-the-mill facial hair option.
Hirsute models like Ricki Hall and Chris Millington defined the look of long, stylised beards with black leather jackets and inked sleeves, resulting in a beard-y boom that had every self-respecting brand’s shop window and/or lookbook featuring at least one hairy-faced model.
But, like all eye-catching style statements, its popularity has prompted the loss of its once cool status. There’s certainly nothing wrong with a beard but we’re looking forward to a whole new world of grooming trends in 2015.
2014’s Most Contentious Accessory: The ‘Manket’
A good deal of fashion is marketing. Give something fairly banal a new spin and, hopefully, that little tweak is all it needs to fly. Supersize a wool scarf and you effectively have a blanket. Brainstorm a buzzword for this mammoth accessory and you have the ‘manket’ – i.e. arguably menswear’s most contentious accessory.
Seen on the runways of luxury brands like Burberry Prorsum and Louis Vuitton, this is one trend that’s taking its time to filter down to high street level. We’re certainly not advocating you lug around a 3m2 rug on your shoulders but don’t be afraid to size up with your scarves for an on-trend aesthetic and a bad weather buffer.
Image: Burberry AW14
2014’s Unlikeliest Style Icon: Prince George
Start ’em young, that’s what we say. Royal rugrat and heir to the throne Prince George became something of a style icon during 2014. Heralding the return of classic boy’s wear, Prince George is an anomaly in a new era of designer babies.
Frequently decked out in denim dungarees, nautical-inspired tees and the classically understated polo shirt and shorts combo, George is all for looking cute, rather than covering himself in all of his parents’ favourite designer labels.
2014’s Best Dressed Man: Benedict Cumberbatch
It’s often the brash try-hards that top best dressed lists, flaunting exorbitantly expensive labels but failing to understand the nature of true style. So, we commend a man who chooses to subtly hint at, rather than scream about, his style pedigree.
Poised, polished and perfectly capable of lending traditional British style a welcome contemporary slant, Benedict Cumberbatch wins our vote for 2014. Though we won’t be calling ourselves ‘Cumberbitches’ any time soon.
The Return Of The High Street
It’s tough to beat the British high street. While American and Swedish giants may seriously compete on price, this year’s shown that British high street retailers go above and beyond when it comes to style.
For one, British clothiers never fail to underestimate the importance of nurturing fresh talent, providing platforms for, or collaborating with, menswear’s most exciting designers – just look to the likes of Topman’s MAN initiative or River Island’s Design Forum.
Add to that increasingly slick branding, fresh drops exactly when you want them and in-store personal shopping services and you’ll probably find yourself asking: why pay more when you really don’t have to?
Key AW14 High Street Menswear Collections
Below you will find the latest lookbooks from key British high street retailers who really upped their game this year: New Look, Burton, M&S and John Lewis.
Were there any other major moments we forgot about? Did we miss any wardrobe malfunctions, brand launches or key pieces?
Let us know using the comments form below…