Proving the US is the latest force in fashion to wake up to the rapidly expanding menswear market, the inaugural (and slightly awkwardly titled) New York Fashion Week: Men’s (NYFWM) wrapped stateside last week.
Although not having pride of place calendar-wise (coming after Paris couture, but during the established US market week where buyers attend trade shows like Project and Capsule), this didn’t dampen the spirits of the event – on the contrary, NYFWM looks set to become a not-to-be-missed fixture in the future.
The only thing that was perhaps missing was a headline name. That said, we should remember that LC:M ran for a couple of seasons before Burberry took the momentous (and brave, at the time) decision to transplant its Prorsum show from Milan to London, so this is sure to come in due course for NYC.
For now, though, NYFWM showed classic American brands, and provided a wider showcase for smaller labels that would otherwise be lost in New York’s previously womenswear-dominated fashion week.
First up, the household names. While the schedule did feature key US designers, closer inspection revealed that this was often a bit of a red herring. Coach, Thom Browne and Calvin Klein Collection were re-shows of their London, Paris and Milan collections respectively, while Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger showed department store-ready preppy classics with few surprises.
As expected, Michael Bastian and Todd Snyder riffed on classic all-American style too; the former pushing the boat out from chinos and double-breasted suits with a beautiful organic leaf print, and Snyder using a spectrum of greys to convey an inimitable Metropolitan elegance.
Ovadia & Sons mixed their greyscale hues with a subtle red, white and blue colour scheme which – together with mixed-up stripes and road sign prints – was a lovely way of nodding to the Big Apple without going all Star Spangled Banner.
Elsewhere, Robert Geller’s graphic use of tone and matte fabrics showed a strong approach to outfit dressing, rather than just separates styled together.
His band of colour across the waist was very successful, with the designer often varying the silhouette of trouser from slim and tailored to a less restrictive leg, which – when combined with the minimal surfaces – felt sharp and almost architectural.
Tim Coppens is the kind of designer that really exemplifies where NYFWM could (and should) be heading. Integrating bright colours and jolly patterns with unusual details – contrast hue patch pockets, striped detailing around T-shirt arms and oversize storm flaps on macs – Coppens unfurled a glorious collection that felt fresh and vibrant without ever losing sight of the end customer.
The clothes he presented would work well as statement separates for spring/summer 2016 and beyond, and there were plenty of the requisite bombers and blousons to please attending buyers.
Richard Chai is another name that might be familiar to UK readers after some of his high-profile collaborations in the past few years. Chai employed colour to great effect, but on softer, grown-up tailoring of a slightly more experimental, wider silhouette.
Public School really hit it out of the park, to borrow an American metaphor. Showing crisp, cool monochrome with a sharp, minimal silhouette, the brand are making waves and becoming a go-to for the kind of clothes that you’ll likely see menswear buyers sporting on street style blogs.
The tailoring was similarly sharp and modernist, without becoming unwearable in an everyday context – expect to see copies in your local high street store come next year.
While sportswear was an overt trend at brands from Nautica to Rag & Bone, it was John Elliott & Co’s relaxed monochrome (again) vibe that was arguably the most successful.
Emphasis with Elliott is always on quality construction and the finest materials – an approach that has garnered plenty of fans and has considerable mileage in it. Try the label’s tailored sweatpants if you’re in the market for something ultra-luxe.
A few of the larger brands ventured a little further outside the box. Duckie Brown paired voluminous trousers with soft, sheer tops to create an exaggerated silhouette that read like a more commercial, less radical version of what Alessandro Michele is doing at Gucci.
Elsewhere, N.Hoolywood showed a strong collection that combined Scandinavian minimalism with pops of colour, resulting in a wearable range that landed somewhere between Acne and CMMN SWDN.
Yet NYFWM was best summed up by two brands. At the freshest end of the scale, Boyswear showed a hippie-inspired, colourful collection that used bold prints and simple shapes with both finesse and humour, giving it a young and exciting feel.
At the other end of the scale was established designer John Varvatos. A long-time campaigner for a dedicated New York menswear week, he moved his show home from Milan for the debut event.
While the designer’s trademark rocker aesthetic was very much present, it felt renewed this time around, with vertical stripes and jewel-toned suiting leading the way.
Overall, it’s pretty clear that NYFWM is going to develop into something pretty special. Watch this space.