All’s change in London. London Collections Men (by some accounts a mere shadow of its former self) saw just 57 designers partake in its latest showcase, compared to 77 this time last year.
In fact – owing to concerns that the current four-day standalone set-up might not be the menswear money-maker that it’s been made out to be in recent seasons – LCM SS17 was the last official London Collections Men as we know it, with organisers already having unveiled plans to rebrand the biannual showcase to London Fashion Week Men’s in time for its next outing.
But while the platform itself might be up for debate, there’s no denying the ideas it put forth were anything less than progressive. And perhaps – for those of us who can’t quite see ourselves getting kitted out in a glimmering viscose knit crop top and skirt two-piece (à la Pieter) or carrying off a midriff-baring top made up of little pieces of fabric made to look like cascading flower petals (à la Alex Mullins) – a little too progressive for everyday wear.
So we’ve sifted through menswear’s freshest collections, sectioning off the showpieces in order to share designers’ most wearable innovations instead.
Here’s what’s making waves:
Zip-Up Tracksuit Tops
It’s 2016, which means men everywhere want to dress like a roadman. But while recent seasons have seen designers focus their efforts on taking the sweatshirt-jogger combo upscale, the SS17 shows championed a different mid-layer: the zip-up tracksuit top.
Hot on the tail of brands already pushing the athletic essential (Gucci and Gosha Rubchinskiy among them), the tracksuit top cropped up – cut lean, and with a funnel neck – at Christopher Shannon and Topman Design and in a less sporty, slightly more luxe fabrication at Wales Bonner.
Time to ditch that hoodie.
Neutrals are going nowhere. But in amongst the colder light neutrals (stone, light beige) that were threaded through AW16 collections this season were warmer hues like russet and tan.
Case in point: Danish-born Astrid Andersen swapped the acidic neons she’s built her name on for a much more muted palette of gold, clay and cocoa. Ditto Craig Green who continued his move away from the punchy primary hues he found fame with for taupe and chestnut brown.
This is good news. Because a) neutrals are versatile and usually play well together, and b) they won’t wash you out to the point of making you transparent.
Graph & Windowpane Checks
Savile Row’s say in the way men dress might be waning, but the pattern synonymous with the historic street’s tailoring isn’t.
Checks, particularly wide windowpane and compact graph checks, were writ large across London’s SS17 output – and although some of the pattern’s appearances were business-as-usual (applied to Turnbull & Asser’s tailored separates and jumpsuits, for example), checks emerged in some unexpected places, too.
Like at Astrid Andersen, where graph check covered a longline shirt-coat and matching boxy trousers. Or at Agi & Sam, where a tailored graph check trouser and windowpane check tailored jacket came with a cropped bomber jacket layered on top.
So check yourself if you think this pattern’s just for suiting.
One of menswear’s time-honoured spring/summer motifs made a triumphant return this season, with designers as disparate as Oliver Spencer, Sibling and Tiger of Sweden showing stripes every which way.
They were vertical and horizontal, broad and pin-thin, and, although maybe lacking the track-stopping impact of some of this season’s other prints (florals especially), proved themselves again an easy way of adding visual texture to warm-weather looks.
Perhaps recognising the redundancy of seasonal wardrobes in a world plagued by climate change, this season (incidentally a total washout) was all about the topcoat.
Conveniently lightweight and offering more coverage than your average shacket, the ubiquity of these lightweight outerwear heroes made total sense when, in June, you find yourself dodging downpours between shows.
At Astrid Andersen, they came with gilded stripes and boldly branded, while Casely-Hayford proffered some all-over-printed options that nailed the sweet spot between statement-making and a safe wear. It was Lou Dalton, though, who came up with the most wearable goods, showing drop-shouldered tailored styles in off-white and navy.
Coats aren’t just for winter. Add one of these wispy outer layers to your rotation and you’ll not only stay dry, but make an impression too.
As fashion’s outdated gender binaries continue to crumble, the idea that men should never err outside the confines of what’s considered ‘classic’ is losing credence. And while we’re not quite at the point where skirts are an off-duty staple (although designers put a few among the ranks this season), that’s not to say there aren’t other – more manageable – ways of breaking the mould.
One of SS17’s standout ways for standing out was statement fabrics – like Cottweiler’s transparent Italian linen track pants and cotton-linen-nylon knits, Lou Dalton’s shimmering showerproof nylons and Christopher Shannon’s embellished denim.
Colour and cut aren’t the only ways of setting yourself apart from the herd, so try playing with fabrics to punch up your look.
Yes, brooches. Not so much brooches in the ‘your darling gran’ sense of the word, but more talking-point accessories worn on your chest.
At Christopher Shannon it was knotted rope set against a set of woven circles, whereas Agi & Sam opted for a contemporary take on cameos and Wales Bonner hung military medals on her models.
The message is clear: watches and rings aren’t your only options for lending your look some individuality.
The IN T-shirt
You might think a political hot potato like Brexit is too dry for the menswear runway, but you’d be wrong. Over the course of LCM, at least four designers – including Christopher Raeburn, Patrick Grant of E. Tautz and Sibling’s Sid Bryan and Cozette McCreery – nailed their colours to the mast, each taking their post-show bows in T-shirts covered in pro-stay slogans.
So if you were on the fence…
Could you see yourself giving any of these a whirl? Have you hunted any trends we haven’t listed here?
Let us know below.