It will come as no surprise to hear that stripes are trending – again – for spring/summer.

A pattern with strong nautical and Riviera connotations, both perennial trends in their own right, stripes have long cemented their place within the modern gent’s warm-weather wardrobe, with the Breton t-shirt/top widely considered to be a timeless piece that every man should own.

However, this season designers have taken a slightly different approach to stripes: they’re bigger, bolder and come in block form.

Briefly highlighted in our 5 Trends/Pieces To Try in 2014 article, block stripes are set to become menswear’s go-to motif this SS14…

On The Runways

Block stripes were prevalent across all the major fashion weeks, with designers choosing to apply them in a variety of different ways, colours and sizes.

At the more sober (and, in my opinion, more wearable) end of the spectrum was Valentino’s showcase. Models were sent down the runway in beautifully cut, tailored pieces featuring subtle block stripes in timeless shades of navy, grey and black.

Despite the ambitious stripe effect, the suits and blazers remained wearable due to the classic, understated colours used.

Echoing this theme, Valentino included oversized jackets in striped denim, offering a refreshing and more formal take on the now ubiquitous denim jacket. These were paired with tailored trousers and flip-flops for a true spring/summer feel.

Valentino also featured military-style khaki overcoats/jackets with cream stripe detailing confined to the bottom half of the body and sleeves. Perfect for those men who would prefer to use stripes as an accent rather than a statement:

Wooyoungmi offered a slightly more casual take on the trend by including block-striped t-shirts in nautical shades of turquoise and blue, as well as denim jeans with stripe detailing on the legs and cuffs.

The fabrics used to construct these pieces were quite stiff and structured, adding a nice textural identity to the garments.

Wooyoungmi also applied light blue and indigo stripes to blazers and coats, which were complemented by leather strap sandals in similar shades.

A stand-out piece from the collection was the long-sleeved shirt with white, grey and blue block stripes running in different directions – proving that the pattern is able to adapt to more formal occasions:

At the more adventurous end of the block stripe spectrum was the Moschino collection.

Not only did Moschino utilise bright, bold shades such as orange and purple, each block stripe also contained a vivid print, creating a contrast panel effect.

Nearly every outfit that was sent down the Moschino runway featured a stripe of some sort, with everything from blazers and long-sleeved shirts to tees and polos given the block stripe treatment.

The vivid patterns utilised within the stripes included a night sky scene with stars, florals, vivid red flames, waves crashing out at sea, a lightning-ridden sky and sandy desert dunes. The garments were extremely ambitious and vivid, especially when paired with neon brights, as they were in many of the looks:

The Fashion Press

So how have the fashion press reacted to this new take on the ever-popular stripe trend? The answer is overwhelmingly positively.

One of the biggest advocates has been GQ magazine, which applauded the development from oversized checks to block stripes and was a big fan of the stripes showcased at Valentino and Wooyoungmi.

In fact, Giorgina Waltier, Retail Editor of GQ, stated that stripes are a “menswear staple” and this season “bold colours with thick banded prints create a new modern look”.

GQ Creative Director Jim Moore added to this by saying: “Whether full-body colour-blocked or spread over the chest, bold stripes could be seen across the board at the runways and trade shows. Not only does a hefty stripe bring to mind athletic endeavours, it also visually broadens a guy’s frame, making him look like he’s been hitting the gym hard – whether or not that’s true.”

Indeed, much like vertical stripes create an illusion of length, horizontal stripes can broaden the upper body and help create that desirable inverted triangle shape many men yearn for.

However, it’s important to remember that the effect is a widening one, so handle block stripes with care if you are already of a larger or more portly build.

Saying that, James Barron, Head Buyer at ASOS, is quoted in Men’s Health as saying: “Stripes are easily worn and will work on most guys. Breton tops and block-stripe t-shirts with washed denim shorts are simple ways to incorporate them into your wardrobe.”

Modern Lookbook Inspiration

It’s not just the high fashion designers who are backing the trend – many new SS14 lookbooks and advertising campaigns feature block stripes prominently, with the pattern applied to everything from shirts and tees to lightweight jackets and knitwear:

scotch & soda aw13 minimum ss14 h&m ss13 scotch & soda aw13 timo weiland ss14 tommy hilfiger ss14 minimum ss14 gant ss14 river island ss14 reiss ss14 river island aw13 ben sherman ss12

Key Pieces
  • Paul Smith Jeans Polo With Colour Block Stripe
  • Asos Stripe T-shirt With Scoop Neck
  • Cheap Monday Stripe Streak Sweater
  • Topman Blue Stripe Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Topman White Blue Stripe Long Sleeve Shirt
  • River Island Blue Humor Colour Block T-shirt
  • Topman Black Burnout Stripe T-shirt
  • He By Mango Color Block Cotton Cardigan
  • Marc By Marc Jacobs Oversized Striped Cotton-jersey T-shirt
  • Rag & Bone Striped Wool-blend Cardigan
  • River Island Green Colour Block Stripe Jumper
  • Asos Shirt In Long Sleeve With Cut And Sew Block Stripe
  • New Look Grey Contrast Block Stripe Long Sleeve Shirt
  • John Smedley Gabe Sweater
  • Rick Owens Men’s Black Stripe Crew Neck Knit Jumper
Final Word

With menswear designers continually looking to the past for inspiration, we are seeing more and more timeless pieces and patterns being brought bang up to date for the current market.

Block stripes offer a fresh and bold take on a perennial spring/summer trend, helping breathe life into your warm-weather wardrobe while subtly separating your look from the crowd.

But now it’s time to hear your view:

  • Will you be investing in block stripes this year?
  • Or will you be sticking to classic Breton and nautical versions?
  • How will you integrate block stripes into your wardrobe?
  • Which designer take on the trend is your favourite and why?

Let us know in the comments section below…