GOODBYE NORMCORE. New York-based designers put a spin on essential pieces with more conceptual approaches and more refined execution, figuratively showing normcore the door.
Hood by Air deconstructed a suit with unusual cutting and details
Anticipation for the upcoming New York Fashion Week: Men’s in July is only now rising, but a handful of menswear designers in the United States’ capital of fashion have geared up for spring since last September. And the truth is, with or without a designated fashion week for men, the growth of menswear in the city has always been persistent and shows no signs of subsiding any time soon. Despite scheduling conflicts with the womenswear spring/summer ’15 presentation—some brands, like Lacoste and Public School, managed to acquire a more comfortable slot in between the aforementioned womenswear lineup—the menswear gang did not lose their pace in building collection after collection of clothes with attitude.
Public School took luxury athleticwear down to the basics
So, what’s remarkable about New York offerings, given that Paris is a hotbed for the industry’s must-watch heavyweights; Milan is a heaven for classic tailoring with sprezzatura; and London is a home for the non-conformists? The answer is simple: New York is where things get real. Nobody waxes poetic about their collections, only true a-ha moments and serious execution of ideas that birth utterly wearable pieces. New York does take ready-to-wear quite literally, as evident in a recurring theme of sport-infused, street-inspired collections this season. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” was seemingly the motto, but sporty pieces are, after all, what men these days are into.
Lacoste was again at the forefront of the pack, proving that windbreakers and printed T-shirts could look modern and desirable. Felipe Oliviera Baptista, the brand’s creative director, implanted sporty designs on basically everything—down to a series of suits with precise cutting, sans the conventional stiffness. Also experimenting with sporty shapes was Patrik Ervell, who employed technical materials and tactfully placed colors around their more somber pieces. Opening Ceremony, too, ushered in a sporty vibe for its spring/summer ’15 presentation, without forgetting to add a hefty dose of its signature coolness-cum-quirkiness through tropical prints and pastel shades.
Lacoste showcased a refined take on sportswear
Beyond the sport-street iterations, the oft-repeated claim that New York is a destination for budding designers is actually not that far-fetched—a handful of emerging names showcasing their designs in the city are listed as finalists, if not winners of several prestigious fashion awards. Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School have snagged the Woolmark Prize, the CFDA Swarovski Award for Menswear and the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Award. Tim Coppens and Hood by Air were named finalists of the LVMH Prize; Orley was recently listed as a LVMH Prize semifinalist in the second edition of the competition.
Brush strokes were everywhere on Robert Geller’s runway
Among those who have acquired funding and mentorship for their brands, Hood by Air arguably made the biggest buzz this season. Just zoom in on its latest strings of presentations: a series of shows comprising “Ego” during New York Fashion Week, “Superego” during Paris Fashion Week and “Id” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Shayne Oliver, the founder and designer, was on a quest to investigate what it means to be a man, and so a collection packed with chokers as accessories, logos emblazoned on denim and leather pieces as well as deconstructed suits flooded the social media feeds of those lucky few who were invited. Equally enthralling, although not as elating, was Public School’s more conceptual approach to “formal activewear.” The designer duo rolled out their signature pieces of sharply cut shirts, luxurious bombers and loose trousers with an unexpected addition of electric blue accents. Yet, nothing looked out of line or crossed any major boundaries; everything felt rather conventional but refined.
But in New York’s fashion scene, the winners do not take it all. Case in point was Robert Geller who toned down his aesthetics, mainly by using artistic brush strokes as motifs on muted-toned separates. And he played it particularly well by applying those touches using different techniques.
Siki Im fluidly worked with origami-like cutting
Another interesting bit arrived on Siki Im’s runway: Outerwear and sleeveless tops were cut asymmetrically, crafted out of flowing fabrics that brilliantly ended up looking like origami. And even though he cited robotic movement as his inspiration, there was nothing that seemed stiff or metallic in his collection. Both designers, unsurprisingly, hailed from Germany, which is likely part of why they managed to strike the right minimalist chords while bending them just far enough. But perhaps stereotypes like those don’t really apply to them, since it’s clear that most—if not all— New York-based designers got the message just fine and went on to execute their respective collections in a similar manner. That message leads us to this proposition: Normcore is dead. Sure, sneakers are still around and won’t be going away anytime soon, but standing out in a refined way is now (thankfully) in. Did you get the message?
Text Gabriela Yosefina