We’re the first to admit that some of the ‘clothes’ that come down the runway at men’s fashion week really deserve those inverted commas. The AW18 shows have just wrapped in Paris, hot on the (occasionally stacked) heels of Milan, Pitti and London. Among the bolder looks for next season, we saw outfits made from supermarket stickers, lots of see-through tops and a few pleated mini skirts (yes, on men).
Somehow, we don’t expect to see those flying off the rails come the autumn. Which is fair enough. Some fashion shows are more about arty subversion or wider conversations about consumerism or gender politics. That’s fair enough, too. But we’re here for the clothes – the ones we actually want to buy and wear. And with that in mind, here are the trends that should make it to your rotation this year.
If we had to give you just one takeaway from the AW18 shows, it was that you should be wearing a lot of plaid come the autumn. It was by far the biggest common denominator. From long plaid overcoats to patchwork plaid streetwear at Balenciaga, it was evident in every single style genre you could think of. The most elegant looks came courtesy of Dries van Noten who clashed three different plaid styles in one outfit. In fact, plaid-on-plaid was a recurring theme. The lesson? Don’t be afraid to clash patterns and genres next season.
If you only buy one plaid item, make sure it’s a long overcoat rather than another lumberjack-approved flannel shirt – you’ll be able to wear it formally over a suit during the week and then style it out with more contemporary sweaters, jeans and boots at the weekend. It will even offer a nice foil to a streetwear look. Check out Dries and Juun J for ideas on how to wear plaid in an elegant yet contemporary way.
You hated them as a kid, but you can’t get enough of them right now. And nor, it seems, can designers. In Milan especially, there were reams of corduroy on the runways and not just at the more tailored labels such as Brunello Cucinelli: even streetwear brands like Palm Angels were getting in on the action.
What was noticeable was the size of the wales – they were a lot thicker than previous seasons, making them even more textural. Light beige was the go-to hue to bounce clashing patterns off (although at MSGM there was pink corduroy that gave us a nostalgic reminder of strawberry Angel Delight).
It’s a fabric that works brilliantly in a loose cut (more on that below) and is great for pairing with a denim jacket or a suede bomber for an extremely tactile look.
If you’ve been reading FashionBeans for long, you’ll know that we’ve been advocating rugged hiking boots for an age. Not only are they perfectly functional for the garbage that the northern hemisphere hurls down from its skies, but they also provide a degree of tough elegance when paired with streetwear or tailoring.
There was a huge range to choose from this season, but none better than at Marni where pattern-clashing looks were grounded with a duck-boot style. Whatever type of hiker you go for, wear them with a cropped tailored trouser for maximum style points or even tuck in a tapered track pant.
It’s hard to remember an AW18 show that didn’t get a serious hiding with leather – and we’re not just talking biker jackets. From the knights and armour-inspired leather at Les Hommes to the unbelievable luxury at Berluti, brands couldn’t get enough of the natural fabric.
There were also more leather trousers on the runways than at a German BDSM club, so AW18 will be the season to get your squeak on. A highlight was Alexander McQueen’s superb leather track pants, which took athleisure to a whole new level.
If that all sounds a bit much for you, leather panelling and detailing was another prevalent theme, typically applied to the shoulders of jackets and coats, offering a welcome touch of gloss against a woollen backdrop.
The New Americana
Carried over from SS18, there was a continued exploration of new and old American styles at DSquared2, John Lawrence Sullivan, Astrid Andersen and Palm Angels. The typical ranch-dressing motifs of cowboy hats, boots, plaid and denim were all played out in very different ways as designers reinterpreted a nostalgia for the mid-west, but our favourite was Palm Angels, where American Gothic met post-punk goths at an end-of-days industrial rave-up (honestly, it was good).
Plaid shirting combined with streetwear silhouettes is a clash of styles that on paper sounds crazy but in reality worked really well, proving that it’s not what you wear but how you wear it that counts. Next season then, look to mix classic flap-pocket overshirts with corduroy trousers and floral prints, or denim workwear with contemporary coats and rugged boots.
Trousers In Every Conceivable Cut
With most of the attention going on outerwear shapes and fabrics for autumn/winter collections, trousers often get few column inches. But this season there was plenty to talk about.
No single trend dominated, in fact trousers were a complete free-for-all: flared kickbacks at McQueen, Oxford bags at Qasimi, cropped leather pants at Berluti, high-waisted baggy cords at MSGM, tailored stovepipes at Valentino and every shape imaginable at Dries van Noten.
It was a case of anything goes. The more tailored looks erred towards the slimmer leg, while contemporary casual brands like Ami juggled cropped styles and baggy cuts. Sunnei’s collection contained virtually all of the aforementioned fits and is a very worthy first port of call for easy weekend looks. This autumn, wrap your legs in whatever style you want.
Proportion became the designer’s best friend this season as all sorts of new shapes made a stand. The overriding trend though was towards voluminous oversized silhouettes in coats, outerwear and knitwear. Hands disappeared into jumper sleeves at Acne Studios and into shirt cuffs at Dries Van Noten, while at Marni coats were almost all finishing well below the knee.
Dropped shoulders and balloon trousers were everywhere too, suggesting next winter is going to be a very loose and easy-going affair. For inspiration check out Isabel Benenato’s dark collection, Qasimi’s take on baggy pants and Dries van Noten’s masterclass in flowing contemporary tailoring.
With streetwear having become a permanent fixture on the show circuit in recent years, what’s clear now is that luxury brands are taking it in many different directions. In London for example, Blood Brother’s vibe was very much a mix of contemporary tailoring, classic streetwear shapes and graphic-led pieces, whereas the likes of A Cold Wall and Christopher Raeburn took a more technical approach.
In Milan, Marcelo Burlon’s tribe was heavily influenced by raw street styles that referenced BMX and skater culture, whereas GCDS and Palm Angels achieved a more nuanced aesthetic. Then there was Brunello Cucinelli who applied his expertise in luxury fabrics to a casual collection full of to-die-for track pants, hoodies, sneakers, bombers and casual blazers.
This is how far the trend has come: you can now wear streetwear or streetwear-inspired clothing in virtually every situation.
Nothing gives more bang for buck during the colder months than a statement overcoat, and this season there were so many amazing styles to choose from. From oversized puffers to ankle-length tailored coats, leather extravaganzas to lightweight technicals, colour, proportion and fabric were amped up to maximum volume.
At Valentino, a red and black knee-length high-shine puffer jacket oozed urban style while at GCDS an amazing hooded quilted poncho stole the show. Dries van Noten’s marble-effect coats will certainly turn heads, as will Yohji Yamamoto’s red graphic-print trench coats. We could go on and on, but in short, your mantra should be ‘go big (and bold) or go home’.
Use bright colours and plaid patterns and/or opt for voluminous shapes to really stand out next winter.
Sneakers With Everything
If they can be styled with Alexander McQueen’s flared kick-back suit trousers then they can be styled with anything – and they were. The sneaker often came in a chunky guise this season, following the precedent set by Balanciaga’s Triple S model last year.
Look out for the amazing kicks of Ben Taverniti’s Unravel Project and Amsterdam-based brand ETQ. At Rick Owens there was some serious high-top action, but elsewhere there were plenty of classic runners bookending a multitude of looks. At Versace, nearly all outfits were finished with multicoloured runners with contrast laces while at Icosae it was tennis pumps doing the walk.
We’ll be switching between tailored trousers with a chunky pair of kicks next season, and baggy pants with a lo-fi white pump. What about you?