by Stephen Garner

If there was ever a must-see destination in the world of menswear, it would be Italy. Twice a year I have the pleasure and privilege to make the journey from New York to the storied cities of Florence and Milan to get a taste of what’s to come for the following season. From mingling with buyers and clothing makers to chatting with other journalists and the occasional “peacock” at Pitti Uomo, I try my best to surmise what’s hot in menswear and what has staying power.

What’s hot, is the easy part. Within a few hours, you’ve already lost count on how many times you’ve heard just two labels over and over again. Practically on the tip of everyone’s tongue: Virgil Abloh and Gucci. Sure, both Abloh and Alessandro Michele at Gucci have done a lot for fashion over the past few years – with both labels driving much of the streetwear (and street style) trends within our little menswear bubble, but the bubble has to burst some time.

With everyone wondering what was next, I couldn’t help but notice how many people (even the devoted suit wearing gents) were wearing sneakers with their suits. Now, I know that magazines have been pushing this look for a few years now, but man is this trend everywhere. From the chunky sole “dad” sneaker to the classic Chuck Taylor hi-top, it was hard for me to spot a dress shoe. Perhaps now’s the time to diversify that sneaker selection?

But to counter all the streetwear hype, a few designers are reevaluating their stance. At Ermenegildo Zegna, while designer Alessandro Sartori continues to infuse his couture runway collection with elements of streetwear, he’s now reembracing the suit (albeit sometimes with leg straps and/or hook fasteners instead of buttons!) Mixing tailored outerwear and jackets with some fuller volume pants, the look is fresh, modern and maybe even salable! And believe it or not, Sartori has also added (gasp!) ties to this collection. Neckwear enthusiasts rejoice! 

Overall, designers in Milan and Florence are not abandoning the suit despite murmurs for a few seasons now about the slowing of sales in tailored clothing. Brunello Cucinelli is championing its “gentleman at ease” this season with the introduction of tailored elements mixed with a touch of unexpected creative elements. The brand is even launching its made-to-measure program this season as well as doubling down on its formalwear with a fabulous new silk tux – a must see.

Further, at Boglioli, they’ve returned to what they do best: beautiful soft jackets and topcoats in interesting fabrics and fancies after a spring season they claimed was a bit too “fashion” for its customer’s tastes.

So, with a “returned to tailored” seemingly starting to take hold, what exactly has staying power? I’d say your best bet is don’t get too excited for the full return of the dandy lad. When tailored does make a full comeback, it’s not going to be of the same ilk as the #Menswear movement of the late 2000s. It’s going to have more casual aspects to it, more streetwear-infused elements, and more technological properties to the garments.

But for now, don’t ignore sneakers, don’t ignore streetwear, and continue to embrace the truly unique and beautifully-made sartorial pieces that will set your store apart from the rest.


  1. Stephen – I am going to send you an invitation to come to Miami for a “Fashion Talks Miami” meeting. the topic is the fashion business for 2019. See if Wainscott will pay for your trip. I am going to ask Karen to push this as well.

  2. With all due respect, sneakers do not belong with a suit, period. A much better choice is the myriad “crossover” sporty dress shoes with soft soles. I certainly understand the thought process but the execution needs to be sharpened. Sneakers have their place, which has expanded to be sure, but not that far.

    1. After spending 49 years in the menswear business I definitely agree that sneakers do not belong with a suit however as I see the continual trend of athleisure dominating the apparel industry and certainly seeing dressy sneakers with tailored apparel as The New Normal this is going to be a continuing trend

  3. Every generation has their style. No one wants to dress like their father. I embrace this generation of designers and consumers finding their voice. We don’t have to like it, however encourage fashion and creativity moving forward. Especially in menswear!

  4. If it’s a very formal suit hard to pull off sneakers unless just a soft sole.
    Sport coats with denim or 5 pockets in any fabric guys are wearing sneakers every day and they can look great !

  5. I agree totally but I think that the way the Footwear business is going to evolve in 2019 particularly is going to take the sneaker concept and make it even dressier so that it actually can work with a suit besides the suit business is declining and I think the future is going to be sport coats with either jeans or dress slacks and those sneakers were perfectly with that as you indicated

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