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Awash with an air of ease and comfort and brimming with nods to the urgency of our climate crisis; regeneration and up-cycling were key themes that lay at the very core of this fashion week. For every clean-cut suit, there was playful knit; and for every unblemished hem, there strutted an unapologetically torn or visibly mended counterpart.
Across the board, designers opened their doors to inclusivity and fluidity by their lack of adherence to gender binaries: this may have been ‘men’s fashion week’, but from where we see it, this was so, so much more.
As for the shows, from digital presentations to in-person events, something futuristic struck us: this year’s designers both took to nature – often the shoreline or countryside – and many fused this with technology. See Phipps’ presentation depicting warped natural environments; Vetement’s ode to the pace of modern life through the juxtaposition of urban centres with blossoming flowers with accelerating speed dials; or Kolor’s show whereby a model walked stationary on a treadmill whilst being busily orbited by robotic arms wielding camera equipment.
Following a tumultuous year-and-a-bit, a sense of calm and clarity is being endowed upon by many designers and shrouding oneself in such minimal attire seems to be offering the wearer a sense of eagerly welcomed cool-and-calm.
Lemaire embraced the French concept of ‘naturel’, where their all-neutral get-ups, and easy denim looks exuded nonchalance and simplicity. Reminiscent of that effortless Parisian prowess, there was, perhaps, no more apt of a time to offer up a collection that asks no excessive demand of the wearer or the onlooker alike whilst simultaneously asking for no compromise of elegance and style.
Hed Mayner’s proliferation of sand and stone-coloured looks seemed to blend the wearer seamlessly in with the boulder-lined beach where the show was set – perhaps a nod to our intrinsic connection with, and continual inspiration from nature.
Dazzling fantasies about the fun that is to come have been expressed by many designers: they suggest that the future is bright if we look at it as so. Such a statement can be seen through the neon, party-esque looks expressed by Loewe. Inspired by the nostalgia of going to clubs and the action of getting ready and going out to have fun, bright colours were placed on the agenda, amongst others.
Why refine bright colour to the realms of nightlife, the runways asked? Arguably triggered by the ubiquitous JW Anderson x Harry Styles cardigan trend that graced newsreels far-and-wide in recent months; and which sparked a whole tide of creatives and never-knitted-before-novices to whip out their needles to recreate their own take on such a look. The trend took off so much so that JW Anderson published a pattern for the cardigan online. Following suit, playful knits were absolutely on the menswear agenda this season.
For the creative opportunists amongst us, the message is clear: this is no high time to stow the knitting needles away.
With our new way of life, also comes a new desire for comfort. For many of us, working from home has taught us about the pleasures of working in joggers – intermittently throwing on a loose shirt and some earrings to achieve a waist-up sense of readiness for Zoom meetings. It seems that casual is the new formal, and this fashion week’s designers knew it.
We’re waving hello to amped up tracksuits in Y/Project’s collaboration with sportswear brand Fila, and Issey Miyake’s movement liberating, lightweight, minimal ribbed collection that offers the wearer a simultaneously easy-to-put-together and easy to wear outfit.
Even tailoring and formal-wear took a hit – Paul Smith’s laid back suit reminiscent outfits, oversized shirts, buttoned or not, and long, baggy shorts and skirts were all over the show. Our take away: that dressing up should be comfy too.
Experimenting with new materials, new shapes, and pushing the boundaries of textiles have been seen more and more. Modern innovation in fashion does not end with sustainably sourced leather and responsible cotton.
Whilst Loewe made trousers out of rope, and jackets from cactus leather (yes, that really Is leather made from cactuses); Phipps was busy up-cycling dead-stock, found objects and old bike tyres into garments.
Y/Project took one step further - they put design into the hands of the wearer… their bags are structured around wire making them endlessly re-shapable and their braided knit garments are intentionally incomplete creating customisable pieces where the wearer chooses where exactly the garment lies on their body
Innovation and versatility suggest longevity and this message is vital to creating a fashion culture that is circular, where garments are not disposable but multifaceted and timeless.
A key trend that doesn't appear to be going anywhere soon – we have seen this less-fabric-is-more approach taken up by many designers on the Paris menswear runways this season, including Y/Project, Leowe and Rick Owens, to name but a few.
The sweater, the coat, the t-shirt... all have been reimagined without sleeves. If you're wondering what the extent of this trend is, Burberry de-armed their iconic trench coat - something of a trench-waistcoat was the resulting garment. Across the board, we noticed vests, tank tops and waistcoats galore.
Throughout the week, the idea, taken up by many designers, was clear: that imperfect is desirable through their expliciy incorporation of up-cycling into high fashion.
Andrea Crews customises jeans with her friends, in a rebellion against the pollution caused by the fashion industry; and Kolor’s patchwork knits appear to play on the make-do-and-mend mentality; but rather than simply ‘making-do’, were encouraged to proudly mend our clothes - whether it means adding a seam or sewing on a patch – as a fashion statement.
Normality is being interrupted and re-invented with each day that comes. Unsettling, exciting, uncertain yet hopeful are all words that could describe how people are feeling about our current trajectory. The fashion designers from this Paris men’s fashion week have responded to such times through their clothing, each designer taking a slightly differing perspective on how fashion can talk to the future that we are so unable to predict.
+ Words: Niamh Heron, Luxiders Magazine
BA Journalism and Media Graduate, based in Leeds, UK
Connect with her through Instagram @niamh.heron or LinkedIn