Mr fashion: new guard, new garb

by William Buckley

Fashion Hed

mr-mag july 16-7Sitting in my hotel room in Florence overlooking the Arno while I write this, with London Collections: Men just past and now in the thick of Pitti Uomo, it is abundantly clear that designer sportswear is having a heyday. Even here at Pitti, where the unwritten dress-code clearly states “suits or sportcoats to be worn at all times,” there is dissidence among attendees, and even the collections of Pitti’s own Guest Designers this season, Raf Simons and Gosha Rubchinskiy are assuredly sportswear with nary a sportcoat in sight.

“We’re seeing a significant uptick in men’s designer and luxury sportswear,” says Saks VP fashion director of menswear Eric Jennings. “Designer sportswear is benefiting from the tremendous influence of celebrities, athletes, musicians and social media personalities, and luxury sportswear is benefiting from the need for a more casual and multi-functional wardrobe. It’s actually a really great moment in menswear!” Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman agrees. “This athletic influence in menswear, truly putting the “sport” into sportswear, will certainly continue as the athleisure and athluxury trends continue to dominate casual clothing. The design component of these lines has really amplified, with the creation of great new shapes and hybrids of classic sporty silhouettes. John Elliott has been a great innovator in this area, with clever stylistic takes on hoodies and sport-influenced pants and jackets using the highest quality fleece and jersey.”

And while some customers move away from more traditional tailoring, many big brands driven by the category are keeping pace. “A number of traditional menswear brands have developed and diversified their ranges over the past few seasons to account for the emergence of new brands in the market, such as Off-White and Gosha Rubchinskiy,” says Reece Crisp, menswear buying manager at Farfetch. “The shift from sportswear brands, such as Adidas and Nike, to focus on high fashion through collaborations, with the likes of Raf Simons and Rick Owens, have had a huge impact too, and established brands that may have felt comfortable have really had to up their game, providing more high level product in the market.”

At Bergdorf Goodman a similar evolution is occuring. “Goodman’s was the first retailer to sell Thom Browne when he introduced his line of trim, cropped, Sixties-style suits,” explains Pask. “We have seen that line evolve to include an offering of sweatpants and jackets in his classic grey and navy with his signature four white bands that have been great items for us. This casualization of designer and luxury sportswear has certainly given the category a great accessibility. Comfort is key and men love the high quality fabrications and easy shapes that lines like Brunello Cucinelli and Loro Piana offer. On the designer front, these accessible shapes have also broadened interest in the category. This casualization of menswear is a reflection of our current culture and its shifting needs, so in that respect I think that this athleisure  movement has been a great success.” “Our customers may not be wearing formal business attire as much as they did in the past, but that’s OK,” adds Jennings. “We now have an opportunity to help them update and build a new type of wardrobe that is more casual yet still polished. It’s all about reinventing ourselves to remain relevant to the needs of the modern professional.”

mr-mag july 16-9
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