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Showing love to Menís Fashion Week

Valerie McPhail  

(2/2018) An awakening has broken within the menswear industry, which has allowed the commonly overlooked labels to speak loud and clear. Just as these brands - Sacai, Ann Demeulemeester and Henrik Vibskov Ė were represented in the same way theyíve always been presented, the recent de-scaling of menswear shows gave the showcasing brands nothing but the platform to be illuminated. No longer is the standard suit and tie the only option, for the loudest expression on the runway was at times the most outlandish form of fashion made among the Fall 2018 Collections. As Pigalleís track pants replace the formality of suits and Grace Wales Bonnerís crop blazers and snow pants become a fashion statement, these menswear trends function as victories of expression, individuality and ingenuity. In the Spirit of Valentineís Day, I share my adoration, appreciation and respect to these fashion-forward designers. My hats off to the accomplishments made this season.

Change is within the fashion industryís nature. My first love for the menís fashion industry and its clothing design blossomed in college as a response to an overwhelming feeling towards the womenís wear industry. Confused as to how I could express myself with so many options among the growing maximalist culture, an idea where accessories were embraced in multitude and mixed prints worn together, the menswear presented a straightforward and uncomplicated approach to dress wear. I found this refreshing amidst the noise. With passion I accepted a job at Brooks Brothers at the Gettysburg Outlets, allowing the opportunity to find inspiration and relate to men on their connection to fashion.

I love the classic styles. The suits my dad wears to work in Washington D.C., or the pleated trousers the pastor of my hometown church will wear every Sunday remains an item of clothing relied upon for various reasons: itís structure, adopted within society and habit of routine. Despite the fact, the menswear industry continues to evolve. As designers experiment with prints and the deconstruction of classic styles Ė the navy blazer, matching trouser and forward pointed dress shirts Ė fashion becomes more of an art form, and the pieces commonly worn in a manís day to day will continue to be passed down throughout the generations, allowing fashion to be more approachable to men.

Although the classic pieces are the standards that keep men shopping, invested, and ultimately interested in clothing, the brands committed to experimentation allow the industry to stay contemporary. One of the most popular conversations of last fall, across the entire fashion industry, was the topic of gender neutrality. That is, the idea that clothing blurs lines between men and women, where model-looks appear androgynous and break boundaries on how fashion is defined. This season of menswear shows a continuation of such conversation. Both men and women models walked numerous shows on the calendar. Brands including SS World Corp, Kenzo and Ann Demeulemeester casted female models to show in the presentations and shows for their Fall Menís Collections. Whether they were wearing flamed printed dresses accessorized with silky neck ties, or deconstructed vests, trousers and combat boot uniforms, women complemented and matched outfits among menís fashion. Since the concept first appeared among the fashion magazines last year, the presence of gender fluidity remains.

Another constant conversation is the idea of practicality. The standard of menís fashion commits to producing garments utilized for the everyday. The sake of suits, wool trousers and turtlenecks paired with shearling jackets translates to fashion with a function. Embracing colder weather fashion designs with the winter and business meetings in mind, lifestyle remains in the DNA of menswear. This season, designers utilized the practical pieces with extravagance. Articles of fashion that assist with the routine were elevated on the runway. Japanís Sacai and New Yorkís Thom Browne led the dialogue. Each brand, distinctive in their approach to functionalism within the fall and winter clothing for men, exaggerated the appearance of practical items of clothing, framing a point to how men make a habit of dressing, and desire to dress. Sacai showed a head-to-toe plaid outfit made of a ski down jacket, matched to shorts layered over slim fitted slacks. Such looks portrayed a formal suit attire style blending attributes of athletic wear. Replicating a manís runner outfit track shorts and compression leggings, the uniform intermixes styles of fashion, creating innovative approaches to the daily costume of a manís life. Furry snoods were unexpected, and yet nonetheless it was a popular accessory to the collection. Slightly feminine, the snoods added to the trending winter accessories also showing in other collections.

Thom Browneís Fall 2018 Collection continued the story by upgrading the looks of snow boots and mittens with ostentatious appeal. Browne took his guests to a landscape of snowy plains, creating a camping experience where models put a collection of cafť au late colored cable knit cardigans, fur trimmed puffers and snowflake printed blazers to rest. In the same snowy escapade, Japanese designer Yosuke Aizawa, the name behind the brand White Mountaineering, showed an orange snowsuit among Christmas printed vests. Check tailored coats and fingerless gloves were looks in a collection paired with zip line ropes and Carabineer hiking hooks. These rustic supplies created a seasonally appropriate atmosphere. Such extreme practical pieces of clothing appear as artistic expressions of fashion on the runway.

This genuine approach to fashion continues with the designs of Y / Project and Henrik Vibskov. Notorious for their explicit, dramatic and unconventional designs these brands are carrying the torch for the advancements of fashionís expression. As Vibskov coordinated his collection in loud printed cardigans, kimonos and a Canadian tuxedo, the most publically acclaimed example of strange fashion shown this season is what is known as the "knee high Ugg." A boot close enough to capture reference to the Australian footwear brand, is a style that comes fresh from the Y / Project runway. The wrinkled, thigh high boot with fur lining has become a highlight this season. Despite its strong statement, its overwhelming embrace for comfort is an attribute that the menís fashion industry can relate to. For without comfort, men would not allow any type of fashion into their everyday life.

As up and coming brands shared profitable, yet safe, collections for Fall, here came a season where the fierce, experimental, and at times immodest brands became notably respected for creating novel ideas on design. Among those showing this season, White Mountaineering and Henrik Vibskov make fashion statements while the ole suit and tie combination continues to be approachable and yet questionably relevant. Such brands were the ones with a unique perspective on comfort and functionalism. In response there is an expectancy that these new ideas carry into trends for next season.

Read other articles by Valerie McPhail