Discover this year's fashion trends for men from hyperfunction pieces to summer knits.
AUTHOR Julia Robson
Slip into something stylish this year…
Welcome to the playful new world of menswear. It’s audacious! It’s joyful and it’s progressive. With culturally insightful trendsetters such as the late Virgil Abloh taking the reins at Louis Vuitton menswear, Kim Jones designing for men at Christian Dior and Raf Simons at Prada - what goes down the men’s runways of Milan and Paris in June (the traditional menswear show season) is as highly anticipated as the women’s shows in September. Perhaps even more so!
Joining fashion’s superleague of designers are names like English menswear visionary, Grace Wales Bonner, who is headlining the men’s fashion event: Pitti Immagine Uomo in Florence - since her graduation from Central Saint Martins in 2014, Bonner has proposed a new kind of tailoring embedded with contemporary codes (sportswear, streetwear, loungewear) and references to everyday lifestyles (sensible pockets for iPhones, wallets - even water bottles).
So, just when you thought the tailored suit was relegated to history - it’s back! At least the tailored jacket is for summer, joined by a sporty gilet and/or loose trousers. Bonner, Jones and co have done something similar to Giorgio Armani, when he ripped the linings out of stiff suits - creating the uniform for late 20th century man (think Richard Gere in American Gigolo).
This new tailoring reflects a global outlook, rather than being defined by Euro casual or uptight English dandy. Bonner’s Jamaican roots deliver what she calls ‘cultural luxury’ which doesn’t pinpoint the wearer to a particular metropolis or historical moment in time.
Although it would be incorrect to call it a tailoring ‘renaissance’, the spirit of good taste that men historically got from wearing their Sunday best suit dominates high fashion. Above all these tailored pieces are aspirational – the kind of clothes that signify you own a Maserati or play for a Premier League football club.
Even looser, sporty styles have a swagger. You don’t need to examine things too closely to recognise that the DNA of pickled-in-aspic traditional menswear is very much embedded in this Burberry, oversize sporty jacket or Gucci and Adidas collaboration with its double-breasted jackets.
Anne-Sofie Lucan, of British luxury fashion brand, Lucan whose field sports-inspired menswear sell at Harrods, incorporates functional features like deep pockets and design details like a shoulder that can ‘move’, originally created for a shoot or hunt in signature gilets and jackets. Meanwhile, Connolly embed the culture of driving into their contemporary ranges.
Talking of taking a journey, one overarching theme that unites exhibits at the current London menswear spectacle, V&A Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear (until Nov 2022) explores the journey menswear has taken, down the years, exploring the 21st century’s unravelling of male stereotypes… despite once denoting military rank, social status, class, wealth or power, today’s trends are aimed at everyman.
As a result of the broadening of choice, the men’s clothing industry is thriving - valued at 14 billion pounds in the UK - and catching up fast is the male grooming and cosmetics industry, which is tipped to rival women’s beauty in the very near future. Where once men’s trends translated as a flash of an extra button on a surgeon’s cuff or slight flare in a trouser leg, options today include a kaleidoscope of colours (for summer 2022 - mellow peach, circular grey, pineapple, and fresh mint) and technically innovative soft fabrics.
What used to be called activewear has morphed into multifunctional, structured and versatile pieces often featuring ‘mono-materials’ such as the organic cottons and stretchy man-made fibres referenced by trends site WGSN.
Once something multi-functional meant it was destined for climbers, runners or Wim Hof-types, the latest technology in textiles sees comfort and purpose-ready hyperfunction fashion, including the beloved hooded sweatshirt, t-shirt or jeans - together with the seriously on-trend gilet, or sporty blouson which ideally comes in a performance or natural fabric to keep you cool in the heat - or warm halfway up a mountain; such pieces are often renowned for their comfortable touch or padding and utilitarian silhouette.
Items in this category often have functional pockets, zips and gadget-like designs which will delight the wearer, seeming to do almost anything besides a tax return - indeed, you can become so reliant on these pieces it’s difficult to return to a structured city suit.
In terms of sustainability, there’s been a move away from single-use plastic materials (nylon) to more renewable alternatives; with brands like Patagonia and Lucan meeting the concerns of modern-day shoppers by putting a leading emphasis on protecting the environment.
WatchPilot says... Match the latest trending hyperfunction fashion to:
The growing Meta-environment is seeing a blurring of the digital and physical, which is no longer simply the domain of the gender-ambivalent teenage gamer or even a gender-specific statement - this trend mirrors those digital quality colours including purples and reds, malachite, and galactic cobalt, and even cyber limes and nephrite (a kind of green found in the 1970s avocado bathroom).
In the past, many menswear-exclusive features grew from naval or military combat-styles that were first created for comfort, protecting against chaffing whilst riding a horse, or the cold and damp of the battlefield: in the 19th century Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, wore a military style boot that kept his feet dry yet looked dashing… today’s multi-purpose equivalent is the trainer.
Sportiness and athleisure are part of the Dopamine Brights trend, and when wearing it you appear ‘powered up’ to face the brave new post-Covid world. Many come patterned via innovative digital prints - the running brand, Fervour, epitomises graphic colour-blocking and gradual ombre effects, with founder, Teresa de Silva telling me they use fully recycled bluesign and Oeko-tex environmentally-friendly fabrics that are soft, lightweight polyester/elastane plus UPF 35; the Adidas collaboration with Rich Mnisi also fits this style, with its Quality Street cellophane wrapper colours.
What began in the 2000s with pop stars like Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin wearing featherlight Armani knits sheer enough to reveal their rippling muscles underneath, has developed into a perennial alternative to a cotton shirt or t-shirt; the summer knit is a hugely growing market because it offers such a versatile piece of clothing whether in a pair of shorts or jersey blazer.
The new knits are more luxurious than Aertex-type mesh or retro 1960s styles, with the sporty vibes echoing our desire to get outdoors and socialise - whilst retaining the comfy sedentary sofa lifestyle we are now so accustomed to.
Fashionable streetwear brands such as Yeezy have championed neutrals and Italian classics like beige, stone and greys: Gone are the days of the diamond check golf sweater, now replaced by new styles designed to be worn aboard a yacht or in a nightclub.
Luxury brands such as Loro Piano, Missoni, Hawico and Ermenegildo Zegna, and middle market brands including Scotch & Soda and Zadig Voltaire offer preppy knits that slip under a leather or suede jacket; with knits it’s a case of the devil’s in the detail - in this case texture, fancy stitches and ergonomic design (vents, panels and seamless). Prints include jacquard, florals and geometrics. The overall silhouette is loose but… be warned… the textures are fine enough to reveal a toned bicep.
The SB (single breasted) jacket is a post-lockdown treat, which gives a nod to the new looser tailoring trend of runway shows (Balenciaga, Celine and Gucci), and fuses the vibe of streetwear with contemporary working-from-home lifestyles.
If you can get used to the wider-than-usual shoulders, the SB jacket is a ‘go-anywhere’, ‘where-with-anything’ piece. To the younger demographic who have grown up wearing a hoodie, a single breasted jacket is the new jeans.
Designers suggest these blazers as an addition to streetwear, rather than an alternative - try wearing yours with a knitted top or t-shirt, a loose shirt (worn out), and definitely without a tie.
WatchPilot says... Match your new season tailoring up with these sunglasses:
Amethyst, mauve, maroon, lavender, violet… his colour comes in many names – periwinkle, orchid, heliotrope, lilac – some derived from flora and fauna favourites. It is beloved of rock stars (Prince) and royalty. In K-pop speak, I ‘purple’ you means ‘I love you’. (Purple is also slang for cannabis my teenage son tells me).
For 2022, colour specialist company, Pantone, named their colour of the year as ‘Very Peri’; “a dynamic periwinkle blue hue with a vivifying violet red undertone blends the faithfulness and constancy of blue with the energy and excitement of red” - periwinkle is a pale tint or pastel purple… romantic and alluring.
Global fashion trend consultancy, WGSN, explain how purple’s been on the horizon since 2016 to replace Millennial Pink; many men may choose not to wear pink, yet menswear brands are betting they will wear purple. According to WGSN’s Jane Boddy, director of colour, Purple “has a sense of the exotic” - purple is a key colour in interiors, hair colour, supercars, and smart phones; Samsung and iPhone are betting big on it. You heard it here first!
All watches featured in this story are available online from the WatchPilot website and in-store from our watch boutique retail store located in Richmond, just 30 minutes from Central London.