War-core! Skirts! Bootcut jeans! In case you missed it, these were just a few of the highlights – literally, in the case of day-glo – from the recent “Men’s Fashion Month” that comprised London, Milan and Paris Men’s Fashion Week, plus Florence’s Pitti Uomo trade show. (New York takes place at the start of February.) Who says January is dry?
Before you pour yourself a stiff drink at the prospect of incorporating these advanced moves into your wardrobe, let us reassure you that there were some AW19 menswear trends lend themselves somewhat more easily to transitioning from the runway to the real world. Like long puffers, preppy or, er, leopard print. Bear with us…
Just when you though that puffer jackets couldn’t blow up any more – and peak North Face Nuptse had been summited – the trend is extending all the way down to your knees. Long-serving Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger may be gone but his sartorial legacy lives on in the caterpillar-like coats crawling all over the AW19 catwalks: Kent & Curwen, Iceberg, A Cold Wall, Qasami, Off-White, Ermenegildo Zegna, DSquared, Canali, Philipp Plein… The list of designers is as long as the style. Whether their new-season offerings will be as difficult to zip up as Monsieur Wenger’s notoriously uncooperative outerwear remains to be seen, but at least your legs should stay warm.
The equal, opposite and inevitable reaction to the race-to-the-bottom led by scumbros Jonah Hill, Justin Bieber and Pete Davidson is a smartening up of men’s fashion. Ralph Lauren’s 50th anniversary celebrations gave everyone a warm and fuzzy feeling for Polo bear sweaters, while Noah, the streetwear label founded by former Supreme creative director Brendon Babenzien has raised the tide of formality with casual tailoring. Even sneakerhead bible Highsnobiety has been converted to proper, preppy shoes – loafers, no less – and Cottweiler is driving “golf casual”, white gloves and all. Maybe don’t accessorise with a Make America Great Again cap though: class privilege is not a good look.
It feels a little dotty to include leopard print in a list of wearable trends for average guys like it isn’t, you know, leopard print: the distinctive marking of man-eating cougars. But you don’t have to go big cat – with a leopard coat (Celine, Dior, Versace, Raf Simons, Marni, No21), leopard tuxedo (Philipp Plein), leopard fleece (MSGM), leopard tracksuit top and matching shorts (Sacai), leopard shoes (Celine) or leopard hairdo (Versace) – or go home. If you keep your spots in check by sticking to, say, a sweatshirt, tee, cap or the, ahem, “subtle” detailing on womenswear brand Sandy Liang’s cult fleeces, which are being hunted by men, then with any luck you won’t completely Scary Spice your fit.
Oversized Trench Coats
The Big Dick Tracy Energy was almost palpable. There’s been a sprinkle, nay, a drizzle of trench coats worn casually in the sporty arena of streetwear and on the streets outside the fashion shows recently – perhaps thanks to the reinvigoration of the style’s inventor Burberry the season before by new creative director Riccardo Tisci (who also leaned heavily on the once-chavvy nova check that the brand had strenuously distanced itself from for the past two decades – ah, fashion). The examples that showered the rain-ways at Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Hermès, E Tautz, Kent & Curwen, Neil Barrett, Daniel W Fletcher and Pronounce were, by and large, on the large side.
Under the auspices of noted flat cap wearer David Beckham, who could probably make literally anything a trend if he gave it his blessing, Kent & Curwen unveiled a collaboration with everyone’s favourite BBC show about sharp-suited, razor blade-hatted gangsters in the interwar period – which, like Becks, has been one of the biggest influences over the past few years on how the man in the street dresses and gets his hair cut. (Sorry, fashion world.) The “By Order of the Peaky Blinders” capsule contains a Twenties-inspired frock coat, tweed three-piece and grandad shirt that, while hardly bleeding-edge, wouldn’t be out of place in the Garrison 100 years ago or from now.
Time to go the full Monty – Field Marshal Montgomery, that is, who was a major wearer. Spelt thusly because its fabric originated in the Belgian town of the same name, although that might just be internet legend, the duffel – seen at Valentino, Kent & Curwen and Band of Outsiders – is oft maligned because of its Paddington Bear associations. But like the trench, it’s a practical and versatile style that can toggle between smart and casual, and has seen extensive military action. With its connotations of students dating back to the 50s and 60s (because they were cheap and plentiful what with the surplus after World War II), it also ties – or rather fastens – into the preppy rejuvenation.
Not so much “double” as doppelgänger, both halves of this season’s denim ensembles from the lookalikes of Off-White, Jil Sander, E Tautz, Bobby Abley and Wooyoungmi matched identically, in flagrant contravention of the general convention to always contrast your shades if you’re wearing double denim. The overall effect however was less a Texas tuxedo – or a Justin Timberlake-tastic two-piece – though than a sort of workwear suit, with the traditional trucker often replaced by a chore jacket, building on fashion’s fascination with utilitarian (and usually affordable) blue-collar staples. And as sociocultural appropriation goes, it’s less egregious than fancy-dressing in high-viz gear or a £2,000 designer fireman’s coat.
You take the blue pill: this story ends, you wake up staring at your phone and you wear whatever you want to wear. You take the red pill, you stay in Fashion Land and we show you just how deep the 90s resurgence goes – to long, black leather coats that, coming on the back of last year’s small sunglasses renaissance, will have you wondering if you’ve re-entered The Matrix. Louis Vuitton, Celine, Paul Smith, Dunhill, Prada, Fendi, Marni… Scarcely less 90s-tastic were the black leather blazers visible at many of the same shows, plus Tom Ford and Off-White. Do not try and bend the style rules, for that is impossible. Instead, only to realise the truth: there are no style rules.
What with all those long puffers, duffels and trenches, it only stands to fashion’s reason that you would need some proportional neckwear. Because a normal-sized scarf would just look silly, right? OK, so you do run the risk of evoking Lenny Kravitz when he popped to the shop with what was effectively a blanket slung over his shoulders, which is still inspiring equally long internet threads of memes. Kent & Curwen, E Tautz, Acne, Valentino, Loewe… It’s almost as if someone cast a spell on designers compelling them to knit Hagrid-scale Hogwarts house scarves. XL-iarmus!
Haters gonna hate, Hedi gonna Hedi. Slimane’s menswear collections as creative director of Celine unsurprisingly haven’t consisted of experimental new material so much a greatest hits, including the trademark black suits that hark back to his Dior Homme pomp, albeit with a “new rectangular volume” that’s plumped up a bit from the emaciated heroin chic. Ironically – or on second thought, maybe just entirely naturally – Kim Jones, who alighted the fashion merry-go-round at Dior, also showed black suits, as did Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Versace, Prada and DSquared2. NB They’re not exactly appropriate for work, unless you’re a waiter, hitman or no-questions-asked transporter.