With sports luxe influences currently dominating the industry, many designers have started to turn their back on traditional formal aesthetics in favour of dressed-down looks that may have a wider appeal to the everyday male.
As documented on FashionBeans just last week, one of 2015’s most dominant looks is set to be dressed-down suiting. Yet this new, more relaxed approach seems to be an evolution of one of this season’s current trends, which saw both high fashion designers and the high street embracing the concept of dressed-down trousers.
From streamlined sweatpants and relaxed wide-legged tailoring to slim-fit trousers matched with trainers, today we are set to explore the casual trouser trend – examining the options available on the current market while exploring ways they can be integrated into your own wardrobe…
On The AW14 Runways
Bally was a huge advocate of dressed-down trousers and provided some of the most wearable outfits seen at any of the global fashion weeks. These looks were clearly designed to have mass appeal and would not look out of place on any high street in the UK – something many designers sacrifice when trying to produce the ‘wow’ factor.
Nearly all of the ensembles within Bally’s presentation featured wide-legged tailored trousers in a variety of fabrics and tones, anchored with a pair of minimal white trainers. It was a simple yet effortlessly stylish combination.
The majority of the trousers came in block-colours, although grey houndstooth check and black and white chalk stripe patterns were also featured. The genius of the collection was the marrying of these wide-legged trousers with simple staples: chunky roll necks, crew neck jumpers, bomber jackets, camel overcoats and knitted scarves – pieces all men should already have in their wardrobe.
For us, the highlight was a pair of black wide-legged trousers worn with the signature white trainers, a light grey shawl neck cardigan and white shirt, finished off with a tan leather backpack. The smarter trousers in a wider fit contrasted beautifully against the sports-inspired pieces, creating an ideal balance of smart and casual that oozed sophistication:
Alexandre Mattiussi at Ami adopted a similar mentality to Bally, with the designer choosing to combine wide-legged trousers, often with central pleats, with white trainers. Again, Ami showed a preference for pairing these relaxed trousers with chunky knitwear, untucked shirts and oversized scarves for a more unkempt look that went hand-in-hand with the snow-covered runway and wintry street feel – producing an aesthetic that was extremely wearable rather than sensationalist.
Kris Van Assche and Missoni were two other designers that made use of a wide-leg trousers to help dress-down their looks. Van Assche’s came as part of both single- and double-breasted suits, which were teamed with black trainers and shirts with no ties – tying in perfectly with next year’s aforementioned dressed-down suiting trend.
The Missoni collection comprised a series of looks that featured a very relaxed, chilled out, hippy/surfer vibe, which was further accentuated by the long-haired models nonchalantly wandering the runway.
Opting for an earthy palette, rich autumnal hues were applied to wide-legged tweed trousers, while cotton variants came in deep browns and moss greens. Interestingly, especially for an autumn/winter line, Birkenstock sandals were the footwear of choice, which offered a similar dressing-down effect to the trainers seen in other collections:
The Sports Influence
Other designers opted to take sports influences one step further, and the Givenchy collection was a prime example of this. The brand’s creative director, Riccardo Tisci, said that his AW14 collection was heavily influenced by basketball, and the show even took place behind a type of wire mesh basketball court.
The signature piece in the Givenchy collection was a wide-legged trouser with distinctive white pocket detailing. These came as part of a suit, but went on to appear as separates alongside vests, patterned shirts, oversized knitwear and puffa jackets.
Relaxed trousers were sent down the runway in a variety of colour ways and materials, including black leather. They were always teamed with trainers and the collection even included a wide-legged pair with additional, circular, basketball-shaped details on the sides, showing a direct influence from Tisci’s sport of choice.
Likewise, James Long’s collection channelled a sports luxe feel through the use of sweatpants. Nearly all of Long’s outfits featured sweatpants, complete with their traditional elasticated ankle cuffs and waistbands in soft, lightweight, billowing fabrics. This sports-inspired aesthetic was emphasised further by combining these trousers with hi-top trainers, printed bombers, sweatshirts and bubble-effect jackets in vivid blue, white and black shades.
Long even included some sweatpants in a subtle, all-over mesh material interlocked with leather panels, along with some synthetic tracksuit material trousers. Despite the heavy sports influence, the collection remained stylish and didn’t cross over to the slobby, scruffy end of the spectrum – although it danced dangerously close at times:
Fashion Press Reaction
The reaction to dressed-down trousers (even sweatpants!) has actually been quite positive from the fashion press. GQ magazine have wholeheartedly backed the trend, showing an affinity for smart trousers paired with “sportier kicks” – much like the looks seen at Bally and Ami – “proving that comfort and style go hand in hand”.
Perhaps one of the most surprising advocates for sweatpants was Jeremy Langmead, columnist for Esquire magazine and former editor-in-chief at Mr Porter. In his monthly fashion column for Esquire, Langmead wrote of his initial hesitation to embrace the style, even telling the Mr Porter merchandising team that a ‘Sweats’ category on the retailer’s website was “far too American and chavvy” for their high-end clientele.
But mere weeks later he was left eating his words as the popularity of tailored sweatpants took off as a direct result of the sports luxe movement within the industry. Langmead also went on to state that the target audience for the trend has developed further, with the humble sweatpant now “worn by people, and to places, that previously shunned it”.
The publication shared the opinion of their columnist and proudly stated that tracksuit bottoms were no longer relegated to “those people who prefer not to go to work, students who choose Crunchy Nut Cornflakes over hot meals, and retired footballers”. Esquire identified the collections by Armani, Louis Vuitton and Wooyoungmi as those where these types of casual trousers excelled – celebrating their elegantly tapered, cuffed sweats in luxurious jersey, cashmere and silk.
Similarly, GQ supported the controversial trend for smarter sweatpants, highlighting those crafted from jersey, cotton and even leather as options that should be seriously considered. However, as these types of trousers are casual by nature, the key to pulling them off successfully is to dress them up rather than down. Try combining them with smarter trainers, Oxford shirts, chunky knit cardigans, tailored jackets and leather bombers to smarten up the overall aesthetic.
Elsewhere, Shortlist magazine highlighted the potential pitfalls and confusion that ensues with the term ‘smart-casual’, which is bandied around constantly within fashion circles with no real definition. Shortlist point out that finding the right balance between smart and casual can be difficult and that some of the relaxed trousers now available on the high street and featured in the runway looks above could finally offer a solution to the ‘smart-casual conundrum’.
Modern Lookbook Inspiration
Perhaps the most relevant point to take away from this trend is that tailored trousers should no longer be viewed as a strictly formal option. Wide-leg cuts, soft materials and even rich/bold colour ways can all help relax the overall appearance of your legwear, allowing them to be dressed up or down effortlessly and turning them into a genuine smart-casual option.
But what do you think – is the notion of dressing-down rather than up something that you would consider in certain situations? Would you even go as far as donning a pair of sweats and integrating them into your everyday wardrobe?
Please leave your thoughts and musings below…