Tuesday, 21 June 2016

The Future of Mens' Fashion: Revolutionary Changes at the SS17 Shows

The androgynous Boy by Boy collection on the runway at London Collections: Men SS17. Photograph (above)  and Cover Picture of House of Holland collection by Liron Weissman
While the fashion industry is currently musing over the future of men’s fashion, London collection: Men launched its ninth season last weekend at a new venue. Our special correspondent, Limor Helfgott, looks at the changes in the business of men's fashion and the new directions for Spring/Summer 2017. Photography by Liron Weissman & Limor Helfgott

David Gandy | Liron Weissman
DYLAN Jones, editor of British GQ and chairman of London Collections:Men, announced on the opening night of the event that next season, LC:M will be relaunched as London Fashion Week Men’s. There are other changes on the way too created by the “see now, buy now” movement. More and more designers are joining in and altering their approach to the fashion week schedule. This has been a gradual change over the last few seasons, but was much more noticeable this spring. According to this new model, collections will be shown in the current season rather than six months ahead of time, the way it used to be traditionally. This puts the focus on the consumers instead of magazine editors, stylists or even fashion buyers.

Xander Zhou show | Liron Weisssman
Genderless looks also swept the men's catwalks in London and Milan while some brands have decided to show men’s and women’s wear in one show. Burberry already announced they are making the switch and Tom Ford cancelled his separate men’s presentations beginning in January and announced it will be pushed back to September 2016 to align with its retail schedule. Other key brands such as Alexander McQueen and Pringle of Scotland left the London Spring/Summer 2017 schedule. Ten fashion houses, inlcuding Calvin Klein, Ermenegildo Zegna, Brioni and Bottega Veneta, decided not to show at the current Milan men's fashion week where male models are strutting their stuff in shows that began last Friday. Some analysts say separate men's fashion shows, which can cost up to hundreds of thousands of dollars each, are no longer worth the money for luxury brands, which have been hit by a global sales slowdown. Annual designer menswear sales are expected to reach more than $40 billion in 2020, still up by 6.8 percent from 2015, according to Euromonitor International, while womenswear sales are expected to rise 7.7 percent to about $75 billion in the same period.

Xander Zhou | Liron Weissman
With all that being said, there are still so many good things about London Collections: Men and British fashion in general. It is still the most unique men's fashion week and stands out from Milan, Paris and New York. What makes it so different are how two very distinctive menswear worlds are combined together: traditional tailoring at one end, and innovative, artistic, fashion forward designs at the other. Those two worlds ~ Savile row tailors that have dressed generations of royalty ~ and progressive young designers plus the most daring street style, are what makes LC:M so exciting and something to look our for every season. This season was no different. We have picked some designers, looks and trends that stood out from all that LC:M spring/summer 2017 had to offer:

Ximon Lee: A Growing Boy’s Journey
Contrasts at Ximon Lee collection | Limor Helfgott
New York-based Chinese designer Ximon Lee continues to express his unique point of view through his pieces made with thoughtfully treated materials. After winning the H&M Design award as the first menswear designer in 2015, Lee decided to start his own line that made an immediate impact with its originality. His SS17 collection Hard is an exploration of the concealing and the uncovering of the body. The inspiration, a growing boy’s journey and his perception of hard and tough, is reflected in fragile materials that are tailored in hard silhouettes, playing with conventional work wear and unconventional embellishment. Harsh techniques contrast with the serene and the disturbed, including acid wash, silicone, latex coating and tailored tarpaulin.

Katie Eary: Stars, Stripes and Predator Fish
Starry silk at Katie Eary show | Limor Helfgott
Influenced by Irvine Welsh’s The Blade Artist, - the latest chapter in the lives of the Trainspotting mob, designer Katie Eary looked towards the dark and complex muse for her inspiration “its a fun collection about the dark things that preoccupy me, viewed through a prism of memory and touched by a feeling of luxury” The catwalk was split in two by a wall of red fishing nets which created a beautiful contrast against the garments in the collection. Male and female models walked onto the catwalk wrapped in the luxury of cashmere and rich, starry silk. To match the sea theme, the colour palette was made up of teals, deeps blues, corals and fish prints that helped creating a collection that had just emerged from underwater.

Phoebe English: The Designer to Watch
Phoebe English presentation | Liron Weissman
All made in the United Kingdom, with a refreshing approach to menswear, Phoebe English is a designer to watch. This season the designer presented the brand’s first Mens presentation and third Phoebe English menswear collection. This capsule collection was an evolution of some of the brand’s most recent womenswear elements combined with the shapes and fit of the previous men lines seasons, continuing the established silhouettes. Long shirt dresses for men as well as soft cotton joggers and detailed shirting were key pieces together with smart minimal coats, a play on bomber jackets and hooded smock tops in grey striped linens. Other pieces included dusty blue-grey and brushed cotton tops and crisp white shirting. A mindfulness of functionality over decoration ran throughout the collection set within neutral blank oversized embroidery frames which exposed their inner structures.

Christopher Ræburn: A Cosmonaut's Journey
Spacy Christopher Raeburn | Limor Helfgott
In his SS17 collection, Christopher Raeburn took us to the moon and back for a space-themed show inspired by George Lucas’ film debut, THX 1138, a vision of a terrestrial dystopian future. Raeburn, known for his innovative designs, certainly took it to the next level in his sleek and modern creation, reflecting the extra-vehicular activity of a cosmonaut journey via statement pieces within the collection such as leather rocket bags, bomber jackets with mesh sleeves and lunar graphics, each emulating the monochromatic out of world inspiration.
MCM X Raeburn | Limor Helfgott
MCM by Christopher Ræburn: This season, the designer also collaborated with MCM, creating a capsule collection in celebration of the travel luxury label’s 40th anniversary. MCM and Raeburn re-imagined travel and boldly expressed a responsible and sustainable creativity in it's pursuit. They designed their collection around five key aesthetic attributes: seasonless, sustainable, unisex, multifunctional, and mobile. The aim was to design a new wardrobe for the global nomad and reimagine travel for future-facing millennials ~ a generation which embraces functional aesthetics and a sustainable consciousness at the same time. Form and function were at the heart of each design while Raeburn’s collection “remade” MCM’s iconic Visetos canvas into trench coats, parkas, bombers, and riding jackets, giving a contemporary twist to the chic material that has signified luxury travel for four decades. At the same time, innovation was central to the collection, specifically through the use of breakthrough fabrics and higher sustainable standards, such as Schoeller 4-way-stretch and Ecoalf Nylon.

Xander Zhou: For Grown Ups Only
Bad boys at Xander Zhou | Liron Weissman
The Beijing based designer continues to make waves in his spring/summer 2017 collection: models walked into the catwalk in bedroom hair and bad boys looks with cropped tops and long sleeves. These elements were used to compliment the enlarged waists of jeans that then clung to the hips and midrif combined with a lot of patent leather, stripes, and plenty of flesh. The show notes focused on buzz words such as Sex, Restless, Guilty Pleasures, Identity and Punk. The looks were just as bold. Punk was demonstrated as chains linked around the waist and hips, and pinned from shoulder to belt-loop, safety-pin style, and in forms of metal earrings and chokers with metal beaded messages of Freedom.

Songzio: Wearable Art
Unique textiles at Songzio | Limor Helfgott
Internationally acclaimed south Korean designer Songzio, was described as the best menswear designer in his country and has collaborated with a number of famous Asian celebrities. His current collection is a contrast between the modern and the traditional, young and old, darkness and light. The designer starts each collection with visualising ideas on canvas, later translating them on to printed textiles, resulting in a collection that merits the description of wearable art for its individuality and unique fabrics.

Biker aesthetic at Belstaff | Limor Helfgott 
Belstaff: Carefree Biker 
This season, the Belstaff collection was inspired by Bruce Brown’s seminal 1971 motorcycle documentary, On any Sunday, starring Steve McQueen. Like the film, the collection celebrates the carefree attitude of the guys and girls from on and off bike tracks, reflecting the sun bleached palette of the film. Key designs references and colours are also taken from the Belstaff archive, pieces of the same era. The presentation, showed in a very British location at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre opposite Westminster Abbey, included looks from the Women’s Spring 2017 (Pre) collection, which takes the same early 1970s carefree biker inspiration and features hand-waxed suede, technical outerwear fabrics, lightweight denim and luxurious leathers all enriched with subtle racing motifs.

What Does it All Mean for Your Wardrobe
St James style | Liron Weissman 
According to this season's spring/summer 2017 mens wear collections, one thing you should definitely make sure you own are a pair of shorts, which became even shorter this season, teamed with white socks and army jackets and a logo-emblazoned sweater if you insist on going for the full look.

On the other hand, British weather is very much an influence on classic English style with raincoats, macs, cagoules and outerwear designed to rebuff the rain all being key items ~ these pieces will be a big part of your wardrobe and work well with the classic British tailored look. Menswear is getting ready for whatever the future may hold for it: storms, rain, hail or shine.
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