STREET NO MORE. The menswear designers of New York have successfully elevated their offerings beyond the influence of streetwear
Being a dark horse, an outsider or a newcomer always has its advantages. Just look at how the newly official New York Fashion Week: Men’s has been progressing so far. Now entering its second official season, the premiere fashion event for men of the Big Apple has gradually strayed away from cookie-cutter approaches as designers imbue their designs with bolder, more distinctive signatures. The fall/winter installment in particular raised an
interesting and principal, question: How should one start a collection?
Some brands generally begin with an inspiration board; but the designers of New York apparently took a slightly different road. A few drew on ideas close to their personal experiences; another conceptualized a collection based on their concern for the development of the menswear industry. Thus, New York, once identical to streetwear, elevates itself into a serious, headline-making fashion scene.
Duckie Brown was one of the brands making those headlines. In an age where more is more, and fashion is projected on screens with endless streams of images, the brand only released six looks for their fall/winter runway show. Yes, six—not sixteen nor sixty—simple, strong and rather saccharine getups were on display. Steven Cox and Daniel Silver, the founders and creative directors of the brand, explained: “It is real menswear. We’ve done womenswear for men for so long, and it’s now happening for men in the mainstream, so it was time to go back.” Known for their feminine edge on menswear pieces, it was interesting to see exaggerated shoulders, crisp shirts and straight-cut trousers presented in a proportionately playful manner. All in all, the show felt like a wake-up call for the fashion industry; one that proclaims how substance matters more than ever.
Another local legend flexing his muscles in this leg of New York Fashion Week was Siki Im. He cited vampire movies such as “Dracula,” “Nosferatu” and “The Hunger”—“Twilight” didn’t come up, thankfully—as the main inspiration behind his latest collection. Predictably, black and red dominated the pieces, as well as blood and the color of pale skin. Beyond this literal translation of vampire lore, the clothes featured many intriguing touches. One sweater was spliced with a diagonal zipper; red leather patches were strategically placed here and there; looser trousers were updated through cropping or with a tighter stretch around the ankles. A selection of T-shirts from the designer’s second line, Den Im, ended up being the final show stealers, as they lent an air of streetwear for a collection that really went above the pull of the street.
In the meantime, Patrik Ervell shone in a space between geeky and edgy. The American designer—who studied political science, economics and art history in university—injected a heavy dose of ’90s culture and sportswear trends into his pieces. “Future vintage” was how he dubbed his fall/winter collection, and, frankly, it couldn’t have been more on point. A range of jackets was turned into wardrobe gems with emblazoned patches, awkward silhouettes and shearling necklines. Furthermore, the designer did not forget one of the most common fabrics of the decade: denim. In medium stonewash, denim jackets and trousers looked refreshingly retro this season. All in all, these thoughtfully designed pieces certainly manage to capture the aforementioned “future vintage” premise.
Not to be outdone, Public School, the menswear “darling” of New York, also came up with a strong concept this season. Designer duo Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow staged a public show that gave fashion students and enthusiasts a first glimpse at the collection as the models took a detour through the street before entering the indoor stage. Apart from the show, the collection differed quite a bit from the brand’s usual outings. Heavily referencing the 1976 movie “The Man who Fell to the Earth,” it packed a good amount of interesting punches. Turtlenecks, blazers with Velcro detailing along with a range of relaxed suits gave the brand a new vernacular to toy around with. These offerings further solidify Public School’s status as New York’s rising star.
What about America’s longtime sweethearts, then? What about Michael Kors or Tommy Hilfiger? Well, to them, it would seem that the main mission of every season is to reinvent their identity and present the results in a refreshing way. Michael Kors’ accessible luxury got an athletic spin, presented in the bleak shades of a New York winter, namely khaki, gray and jet-black. And here is where his magic truly came to life: All of the separates in the collection were immediately wearable. One particular pair of suits in ribbed cashmere stood out for its almost slouchy silhouette. This is simply one of those things that you’ve never thought you need—until now.
Meanwhile, Tommy Hilfiger directed his focus on the use of fine materials and unexpected detailing. The king of prep turned to boxier silhouettes and roomier cutting, resulting in what can be described as an upgraded version of what a college boy would wear in the ’80s. Sweaters, coats and trousers in deep, vibrant hues were tweaked to look more laid-back, while stripes were made to look more pajama-ish—almost reminiscent of polished loungewear. Is Tommy Hilfiger a brand that has ever been associated with loungewear? No; but the look was beautifully translated in the brand’s design language.
A similar question could be asked regarding the future of New York Fashion Week: Men’s. Is New York City a destination that can ever be associated with forward-looking fashion? Not now; but in the future, if the city’s designers keep pushing their own boundaries, this idea might just become reality.
This article first appeared in DA MAN Style Fall/Winter 2016. Get your copy here.