Men’s fashion weeks around the world sometimes get a bad wrap as being mere fillers used to hold the fashion market between the ladies’ shows, which, to some extent, is true. With fashion being a predominantly female-focused industry, designers sometimes ended up creating menswear as a quick fix to engender male buyers’ interest in the brand. The result: lackluster and uninspired collections that really had nothing to do with the brand apart from carrying its name on the label. However, it seems as though many designers are finally understanding the power that a solid menswear line can have. Every season, it seems that more and more designers are popping up on the men’s week schedules, all with their own styles, twists, and innovative designs aimed at changing the face of menswear around the world.
It looks as if the biggest trend this season is genderless clothing, the mixing and matching of men’s and women’s to create a new range of clothing that fit the term “humanwear” rather than menswear. At Thom Browne, the air was heavy with the idea of gender non-conformity. What was once seen as women’s clothing was quickly turned into a collection of genderless formal wear, at once crisp and heavily based on traditional tropes of masculinity, but also made soft and feminine through the use of tailoring and length. Thom Browne created a double image, almost like two images placed on top of one another. It isn’t either or, it’s about humanity and its similarities rather what makes what gender what.
Now it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the spring collections are riddled with shorts. The whole point of a spring collection is to provide the customers with a seasonally appropriate outfit as the weather starts to warm up. However, it seems that, over the past few seasons, men’s shorts seemed to have been getting shorter and shorter. This is most likely due to the fact that menswear is only very rarely affected by the rules of masculinity and femininity. So it wasn’t in the least bit shocking to see designer Kris Van Ashe send out a flurry of cropped hems on the runway at Dior Homme. The beauty in this collection comes from the casualness of the shorts. Instead of creating a traditionally formal look for menswear, it creates a much more youthful and carefree silhouette.
Jun Takahashi is no stranger to creating interesting and fiercely modern knitwear for his collections at Undercover. His post-apocalyptic ’90s cyberpunk collection is very relevant to what’s been happening over the last year with the massive influx of punk, grunge, and metal in menswear. But it isn’t just the heavy knits that make this collection something worth looking into. The outerwear is exceptionally well made and eye-catching. Oversized garments also seemed to be a big selling point throughout the collection. Exaggerated trapeze style coats walked alongside massive, overstretched flannels, and sweaters add to the “I don’t care, I wear what I want!” attitude of the collection.
“How do you do preppy in 2017 without having to resort to beige cargo shorts and a candy coloured polo shirt?” That must have been the question designer Lucien Pellat-Finet must have been asking himself when he designed this fun take on the varsity jock’s go-to for his Spring 2018 collection. What’s interesting about this collection is the subtle yet completely recognizable throwback to the early ’90s jock — the inviting pastels as well as the velours and gauzy prints that scream varsity loungewear. Think Mark Paul Gosslear in Saved by the Bell, just far more high fashion. Another statement that jumps out here is one that was being made at many of the other collections. There was a real sense of soft femininity which may have either been brought on by the pastels, or the subtle change in fit. While most of the garments looked to be normal length, some were designed to fit a tad bit on the cropped size; an ode to womenswear for sure.
One of the biggest surprises to come out of Paris menswear week this season had to be designer Juun. J’s “formless and genderless” collection. The collection, which featured men’s and women’s clothing, was created with the ultimate goal of being interchangeable, the line between menswear and womenswear virtually indistinguishable. There were clear men and ladies influences. The hard pinstripe suiting and outerwear and the soft flowing shirting and caftan style dresses meshed and interchanged beautifully with one another. The collection showed its audiences that interchangeable unisex collections aren’t something of science fiction. They’re very now and seem to be a driving force behind the engine that is fashion. Take the army green hoodie paired with the long white caftan dress that walked the show. The entire look is completely wearable for both men and women without altering the look of the outfit itself.