Breakthrough Brand Of The Year: Axel Arigato
Though you might not have heard the name Axel Arigato before 2016, chances are the brand made it into your wardrobe in some way over the last 12 months.
The sleek Swedish firm built its prolific reputation by releasing a new sneaker – each equally, if not more, stylish than the last – every week since 2014.
If that wasn’t enough to keep founders Albin Johansson and Max Svärdh busy, the brand also opened a flagship store-cum-art-gallery in London’s Soho in October, launched a range of bags in November and even began work on a clothing line. Take Christmas off, will you fellas.
Trainer Of The Year: Adidas NMD
With 2016 being an endless procession of the trainer reissues we’ve waited decades for, it might come as a surprise that the kicks we covet most are in fact just a little over one year old.
That is, of course, unless you’ve found time to have even a cursory glance at Instagram. More than 1.3m square pictures were dedicated to documenting the Adidas NMD over the last 12 months. And with the Primeknit upper and Boost sole shoe receiving sell-out update after sell-out update, it’s easy to see how this new Adidas classic earned its (three) stripes (and its double-taps).
Most Influential Designer: Demna Gvasalia
Depending on which way you look at it, Demna Gvasalia is either to blame or to praise for creating one of the most talked about menswear items of the year.
In October 2015, the head designer of luxury streetwear label Vetements (and now also artistic director of Balenciaga) ‘debuted’ a DHL T-shirt as part of his spring 2016 collection.
Fast forward and the piece was being worn by models, bloggers, stylists and hypebeasts everywhere. Even DHL CEO Ken Allen, a man who has access to hundreds if not thousands of the courier firm’s actual uniform, coughed up £185 for the pleasure of owning one.
Was it all a bit nuts? Yes. Would we ever buy one? No. But having created the biggest fashion story of 2016, you can’t say the man didn’t deliver on genius.
Unlikeliest Menswear Icon: The Stranger Things Gang
This year has been full to the brim with the unexpected. Netflix’s sleeper hit Stranger Things becoming a menswear reference, however, is one we’d never have wagered on.
In Spielberg’s sci-fi horror series, 1980s style re-emerged from The Upside Down – including body warmers, band tees and Barb specs for days.
It’s not just down to the costume department either, Eleven and the gang also racked up the points off-screen with red carpet looks plucked from Gucci and Tom Ford and repackaged as fun, age-appropriate outfits.
Best Grooming Gadget: Philips OneBlade
When men start sprouting hair from places other than the tops of their head, it often marks the start of 60-odd years of shaving rash. Fortunately, this year Philips launched the OneBlade.
In a surprising step away from the tradition of adding yet more blades to razors, the single double-edged disposable hybrid trimmer, styler and shaver proved to be soft on skin but hard on hair, making it a surprisingly small and stylishly-packed face saver.
Available at Boots, priced £26.66.
Best Hair Trend: The Fade
It’s fatuous to call the fade a trend; after all, barbers have been sculpting super-smooth looks for years using the technique. But 2016 brought us some of the greatest fades in history. Beckham’s taper fade, for example, and Zayn Malik’s many iterations – including his most recent wave-like half-fade, half-taper.
It was also the year the rest of us learned its name, and finally knew exactly what to ask for when sat in the barber’s chair instead of, you know, waving your hands around your head and muttering something about ‘that spray-painted effect’.
Worst Trend: Longline
The great thing about trends is that they’re fresh, they’re exciting, they make us stop and think, ‘Why the hell haven’t I done/eaten/worn this before?’.
But if tapping that trend means you have to go outdoors looking like you’re wearing a nightie, then it’s time to have a word with yourself.
Most Wearable Trend: Neutrals
Also known as one of the better things Kanye gave us this year, the trend for light neutrals has its roots in Ye’s line of distressed military-meets-Mad Max pieces in shades of fatigue green, grey, sand and clay.
But you don’t need to shell out over a grand on a jumper that looks like it’s been semi-devoured by moths to get in on the action. As Mr West probably predicted himself, every brand and retailer has gone H.A.M on neutrals, so you can try your hand at the trend without having to pawn your stuff first.
Style Icon Of The Year: Eric Rutherford
Rutherford is a little all over the place when it concerns fame; part digital influencer, part editor and part male model. More focused, however, is his style.
The New Yorker’s razor-sharp wardrobe comprises staples – the classic shirts, chinos and jackets that take you from A to B. Yet rather than playing it safe, Rutherford supplements these with statement pieces that toe the line between trend and novelty.
It’s a testament to him that despite a healthy portfolio of in-the-buff shots, Instagram’s favourite silver fox clinches our style icon of the year.
Best Collaboration: Lou Dalton x Jaeger
Designers cross-pollinating with premium and high street names is nothing new. However, few collaborations have had as lasting an effect as Lou Dalton and Jaeger.
Dalton, one of the most exciting designers on the schedule at what is now London Fashion Week Men’s, is credited with reinventing the British heritage firm. Picking up on its rugged history (having been worn by pioneering Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton), this year’s collection featured everything the urban explorer needs to go from high street to high seas. Think nylon trench coats, mixed-gauge wool sweaters and even a balaclava or two. Style, conquered.
Available at Jaeger, priced from £49.
Watch Of The Year: Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze
It’s difficult to innovate a space that measures just 38mm (anything over this is not a watch, but an arm cannon). Still, that doesn’t stop manufacturers trying with varying degrees of success. And Tudor was no different this year.
Instead of jumping on the smartwatch bandwagon or appointing an ambassador unknown outside of golf, Tudor did something of substance. Literally. The brand eschewed gold and silver in favour of a Swiss watch set in a bronze case. Although such watches enjoyed a surge in the 1970s, the Black Bay reignited the trend once more to cement Tudor as a serious Baselworld contender.