Fashion ain’t what it used to be. Where once biannual fashion weeks served as a sort of style crystal ball, letting us in on the trends that were set to make it big, today’s menswear calendar has splintered into a jumble of traditional shows, hybrid men’s-and-women’s shows and what are more accurately described as marketing stunts than shows – free ticket to the Givenchy FROW anyone?
It’s all very confusing. But while you could sit, sulk and bemoan fashion’s broken system, you could also look to the fact that while shows might not set trends alone, the men who attend them still do. Here are eight oven-fresh trends we spotted outside the menswear circus in London, Florence, Milan and Paris.
We won’t bore you with the usual ‘athleisure is a thing’ chat. If you’ve read anything about menswear in the last, oh, two or so years, you’ll know joggers are selling faster than suits and minimalist sneakers trump pretty much anything else you can put on your plates of meat. We get it. You get it. We’ll shut up about it.
But we’d just like to point out that, if what we saw outside AW17 show venues is anything to go by, tracksuits – actual full-on tracksuits, as in the kind you wore for sports at school when you were five – are now a 100 per cent legitimate fashion choice. Just thought you’d like to know.
For every trend, there’s a countertrend. For every man in a comfort-first joggers-and-blazer combo that our tireless street style photographer snapped, there was another braving the ball-shrinking cold in a pair of cropped trousers.
As impractical as that might sound, most of the menswear cognoscenti stopped short of a full-on mankle flash, choosing instead to team their cut-short trews with colour-pop socks and statement footwear. Smart, eh? You’d think they did it for a living.
We men have a habit of getting clingy with trends. Give us something new and useful and we’ll wear it for seasons until it’s anything but.
So is the case with shearling and its more affordable lookalike, borg. A mainstay of every men’s fashion week since 2014, it’s warm, texture-rich and equal parts 1970s fop and fighter pilot.
It’s not hard to see that shearling cropped up everywhere again this season – from neat and tidy contrast collars to statement shawl styles. Not invested yet? Get ahead of the herd while this trend is still hot.
Denim Jacket Layering
For all our embracing the shacket as the ultimate layering piece, menswear’s most-lensed returned to an old classic to help tie their smart-casual looks together this season.
The denim jacket – worn over a sweatshirt and under a trench at Pitti, or over a roll neck and under a wool flight jacket in London – defended its title as menswear’s go-to layering piece, once again proving that its heft and cropped cut makes it the sartorial go-between that simply can’t be beaten.
That fact that grown men will swap their beds to queue for trainers is proof enough of streetwear’s sway over men’s style. But AW17 street style offered up some subtler clues too.
Take the beanie, for example. Once the 1990s, Pogs-playing child’s headwear of choice, the human tea cosy is now a must have for any men’s fashion week showgoer worth his salt. OK, so maybe that’s a little too harsh – after all, if nothing else the beanie deserves credit for being one of very few styles of hat most men can wear without looking like a complete and utter fool. Plus, it’s warm and helps hide your mop on Trump-level bad hair days.
There’s a very fine line between a thumbs-up style statement and sticking out like a sore one. A man should know his stunting limits. Trust us, there are only so many occasions where an embroidered bottle-green floor-length bomber is a solid choice, and a day at the office isn’t one of them.
The streets served up plenty of wearable statement options, too. Checks are still big, as are stripes and looser silhouettes, while colours like brick red and cobalt blue let you stand out without blinding anyone in the process.
Kanye might have been noticeably absent from this season’s spate of men’s shows, but Pablo’s fashion pull was nonetheless at large. Not in the number of Boost sneakers mind (though there were quite a few), but in the masses of men whose looks were grounded in earth tones – those typically Yeezy shades of beige, khaki, copper, ochre and sand whose strength, like grey or navy, is rooted in their easy-to-wear nature.
If you try one trend from this list, make it this.
Dressed Down Tailoring
If recent men’s fashion weeks hinted at the possibility of a post-dandy era, AW17 street style was cold, hard proof that the time has come. From split separates to tailored looks teamed with performance wear, menswear has given Savile Row pomp its marching orders.
Even Pitti’s three-piece-obsessed dandies swapped shirts for knits and suit trousers for contrast white chinos. Which says a lot considering just a few seasons ago you would – if you found yourself in Florence during the months of January and June – have been forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled onto the set of Sherlock.