Amidst the political upheaval and doomsday-mongering that we heard from all corners this year, one area that really benefitted from chaos in 2017 was men’s fashion. This was the year when designers rediscovered their courage, when long-lost trends were brought back from the dead and your wardrobe got more choice than it’s had in years. So, before we turn the calendar to 2018 and start making plans for the new year, let’s take a moment to look back on the good, the bad and the very, very ugly of 2017.
From the best and the worst of our wardrobes to the men we should all hope to be a bit more like over the next twelve months, these are the official FashionBeans Menswear Awards.
Breakthrough Brand Of The Year
For those not yet acquainted with the latest name in H&M’s burgeoning roster of brands, here’s a primer. Dubbed Arket, the ‘M’-less market-inspired retailer offers a curated edit of wardrobe staples that place an emphasis on quality over catering to trends.
The first men’s collection, which debuted in spring, is packed with the kind of handsome pieces the Swedish powerhouse is known to produce at mid-level price points – like sleek wool-blend sweatshirts and timeless trench coats – all housed within Instagram-baiting interiors with OCD-neat rails arranged by colour.
With a successful flagship up and running on London’s Regent Street, with more set to follow, and a digital presence in over 18 countries, Arket is one to watch (and wear) in 2018.
Most Influential Designer
Raf Simons, Calvin Klein
When Raf Simons debuted his first collection for Calvin Klein back in February, it marked the creative reboot of an $8 billion fashion empire seven months in the making. Charged with reviving the lethargic label, the visionary Belgian designer wasted no time fusing his modern-minimalist approach with American youth culture.
The result was a buzz about the brand not seen since the days of Mr Klein himself, wearable shapes and styles but with interesting pops of colour and material choices. In the months that followed, Simons asserted his vision for the brand, tapped Mahershala Ali and the Cast of Moonlight as underwear models, oversaw a logo redesign and re-launched one of the company’s most iconic fragrances. It’s safe to say, we’re Obsessed, too.
Unlikeliest Menswear Icon
Who’d have thought it: 2017, the year Corbyn got cool. Did being thrust into the fishbowl of British politics during the general election prompt the 67-year-old to employ a stylist? Could it be that he started reading FashionBeans on the morning commute to parliament? Whatever is responsible for Jezza’s transformation from rank outsider to genuine contender, it worked.
His suits are better fitting, his Ralph Lauren Harrington jacket is a classic and that grey shell suit is straight-up athleisure at its finest. As one Twitter user commented after watching him on Question Time in June, the whole Corbyn aesthetic has gone from “freight train-jumping hobo” to “vaguely credible-looking adult”. But there’s also been a swing in perception. Corbyn’s normcore grandpa styling resonates surprisingly well in a world where unfussy workwear and seventies menswear are trending.
The rise of the famously tie-less “scruffy member for Islington North”, as he was once known, is now King Corbz in the style ranks, earning him the title of this year’s most unlikely menswear icon.
The Muscle-Fit Clone
It’s no secret that silhouettes in menswear have been relaxing for some time now. The skinny cuts that men poured themselves into for the best part of a decade are no longer the only option when it comes to getting dressed. But it seems not everyone got the memo.
One contingent of distressingly preened and pumped guys has taken bollock-crushing legwear to a new level. Meet: the Muscle-Fit Clones. The overstuffed sausage aesthetic has permeated every conceivable corner of the high street, from tailoring to T-shirts and everything in between.
And if this trend wasn’t bad enough, it seems such pieces come only in a limited colour palette: white and black for jeans, olive for T-shirts and pastel-coloured going-out shirts. Wear them until you die or your balls fall off. Whichever happens first.
Most Wearable Trend
Ah, the seventies. A decade where disco hair and platform shoes reigned supreme. And in celebration of the era that spawned the Sex Pistols, Saturday Night Fever and Space Hoppers, designers this year chose to revive some of those golden years’ most iconic (and thankfully, wearable) wardrobe pieces – i.e., not disco hair and platform shoes.
From brown everything to checked blazers, wide-cut trousers to – despite initial reservations – corduroy, men have been readily adopting once-maligned trends and looking all the better for it, too. Freak out.
The Bastard Who Looked Good In Everything Award
It’d be easy to hate on a man with a model physique, popstar girlfriend and wardrobe that looks like it’s restocked nightly by the great and the good of men’s fashion. But it’s because of that wardrobe that we’re choosing to do the opposite. Throughout 2017, Oliver Cheshire has been one of FashionBeans’ most daring but consistent dressers.
The 29-year-old is a chameleon in every sense, capable of looking just as good in a dinner suit as he would a bin bag. Probably. This year he’s done smart sportswear, Riviera swag and exemplary smart-casual as the face of the M&S Autograph range. The former Calvin Klein frontman even confessed to once wearing a pair of Western boots when we caught up with him earlier this year. Though while the wardrobe is easy to mimic, the cover star jawline is sadly less so and it’s for these reasons, Ollie, that we love and hate you at the same time.
Style Move Of The Year
Not that long ago, the only guys who tucked their T-shirt into a pair of jeans were Napoleon Dynamite, Hank Hill and dorky dads from nineties sitcoms. However, if this year has taught us anything it’s that, in the right hands (and in the right waistband), it’s a move that can take bog-standard style to the next level.
And it’s isn’t just casualwear getting the treatment: rollnecks, track tops and knitwear are all fair game, giving countless options for creating a look that says “I’m casual, but I didn’t roll out of bed like this.” Anyone who says otherwise should get tucked.
Uniqlo x JW Anderson
He’s the young, forward-thinking, Northern Irish designer renowned for his quirky and innovative designs; they’re the Japanese high street retailer, revered for creating quality, minimal wardrobe staples at bargain prices. It doesn’t take a style expert to predict that bringing the two together would result in one of the best tie-ups of the year.
And that’s what they did. The 33-piece capsule collection, inspired by British heritage garments, delivered all the building blocks of a good wardrobe: from workwear staples like rugged carpenter jeans to smart un-stuffy overcoats, spliced with classic patterns like tartan, herringbone and collegiate stripes. Uniqlo may be king of the basics, but this collection is anything but.
To leave the house sporting a V-neck any time before AW17 was a surefire sign that, depth-dependent, you were either a golfing pensioner or the cast member of a reality TV show attempting to show off your he-vage.
Suffice to say, neither of those camps is a particularly desirable place to be. But such is the charm of the 1970s revival that menswear’s most reviled neckline has made a Lazarus-like comeback few saw coming.
From chunky designs inspired by vintage cricket and tennis sweaters to smart thin-gauge officewear, now is the time to flick the Vs at the crew neck and send your neckline south.
Woman Of The Year
Since October, a swirl of sexual abuse allegations has engulfed some of the most powerful men in politics, entertainment and media. What started with a series of revelations against Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein quickly swelled into an avalanche of frank and honest personal stories following a call to action by a group of women dubbed the Silence Breakers.
But the #MeToo movement, which garnered 12m posts, comments and reactions in the first 24 hours, began offline through the work of activist Tarana Burke. A three-time sexual violence survivor, in 2006 Burke founded the organisation that would become Me Too, offering support and advice to victims.
The foundations laid by Burke more than a decade ago have today paved a path that encourages discussion, sparks debate and fosters solidarity between survivors. Making Burke our deserving woman of the year.
Trainer Of The Year
Adidas Futurecraft 4D
Without designers, engineers and scientists (yes, actual scientists) working to create new and innovative sneakers, we’d probably all still be walking around with pieces of cowhide stuffed with grass strapped to our feet.
Ever since Nike introduced its revolutionary Flyknit technology in 2012, footwear bods have been racing to come up with the next big thing and this year, Adidas cracked it.
Developed in Silicon Valley, the German firm’s Futurecraft 4D runner (5,000 of which will drop this month) bears more than a striking resemblance to the immensely popular Ultra Boost model. However, this new iteration is produced using a combination of recycled ocean plastics, 3D printed soles and ‘digital light synthesis’, resulting in something truly remarkable. Not to mention comfortable and wearable.
Best Hair Trend
Hair-wise, 2017 was fantastic news for both those who cherish an extra 15 minutes of duvet time in the morning, and those tired of shelling out on weekly trips to the barbers.
While painstakingly-styled pomps and sharper-than-sharp fades will never fail to look good on the right guy (see Messrs Malik and Beckham for proof), this was the year messy, easy-going barnets climbed to the top and offered a welcome breath of fresh ‘hair’.
With ultra-groomed out and textured, tousled tresses in, try a French crop (ideal for thicker or less obedient hair) or turn a gravity-defying quiff into something more loose and free-flowing. It’ll be the much-needed break your bank balance, and your alarm clock, have been crying out for.
Watch Of The Year
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chrono
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This much is true. But that’s not to say you can’t make things better, which is exactly what Tudor did with the all new Heritage Black Bay Chrono.
A hybrid that fuses the aquatic heritage of the Black Bay family with influences from motorsport, the watch is the first of its kind to be powered by a Calibre MT5813 movement: an impressive bit of kit that echoes the technicality of Breitling (who it was produced in collaboration with), but retaining Tudor’s near world-beating value for money.
Swiss, in-house mechanics aside, as well as a riveted steel bracelet the watch comes with a navy denim-style strap that allows you to switch things up at the weekend, adding another level of cost-per-wear to an already versatile ticker. Gentlemen, consider this your go-to watch for 2018 and beyond.