Image Courtesy of www.style.com
Being in prime Spring/Summer weather territory across much of the northern hemisphere, lighter fabrics and practical styles play as much of a role as following trends when it comes to selecting pieces for your wardrobe. Of course being a follower of fashion dictates that this is done in a way which conveys the ‘spirit’ of the season in interesting, stylish and well rehersed ways. Whether it be light cottons or linens in Southern Europe or having a selection of light water-proof pieces at your disposal in more northern climbs, clothing in its purest sense should be practical.
Men’s fashion is this sense must be viewed as a separate entity from womenswear – of course this seems like an obvious statement, however its implications run much deeper. Fashion in womenwear follows basic principals; winter wear, knitwear, spring, resort wear – four style templates which in general are followed, with internal adaptations whether it be suits, shorts, or accessories to suit the mood of the season. There is such a varying array of possibilities for designers in womenswear to choose from that the chances to do something fresh and new are more abundant, without the obvious blocks which arise from womenswear being a more crowded market.
The picture above is an image from Burberry Prorsum Mens Spring/Summer 2011 collection. As can be seen, it features leather trousers and a suade coat, hardly fabric choices which denote feelings of an alarmingly warm day in Paris, New York or Florence. In no way should this observation be taken as a criticism of poor design creativity, but rather, it should be seen as a prelude of a forray into the market of contemporary menswear. Having the priviledge of being part of arguably Glasgow’s best menswear retailer I have to opportunity first hand to see the way in which men chase what is new and current, with what may be construed in some cases as overlooking pieces which may be more suitable to not only our climate but also their individual wardrobe. This may seem unusual, but delving into the issue it is easy to see why this is the case. Seasonal collections traditioanlly, are released exceptionally early in the calendar year as a way of attracting rich clients into buying pieces which although may not be needed for that particular time, would supply much needed income for houses as they worked toward shows which happened perhaps in January of the following year. Therefore buyers in todays market may be arguably sunconciously chasing the allure of wealth which is attached to such pieces, even if this means buying a Merino Wool and Lamb Leather Quai De Valmy sweater in a 90 Degree Parisian boutique.
As stated above though, this should not be viewed as poor design creativity. Womenswear designers have a far greater choice of fabrics to choose from – after all how many men would have the mental attitude to carry off a sheer shirt? Although some designers have tried to impliment change, templates remain exceptionally limited in menswear also. Mens skirts being common place seems to be a long way off, therefore what else can designers do but try and create ‘imaginative’ trouser cuts and short stlyes?
Of course, summer in one part of the world means winter in another, and in an ever gloabalising market, this fact is becomming increasingly important, when creating collections which are practical (the cycle is closing).
The rise in streetwear, with its t-shirt culture shows that fashion is becomming more accessible to all. Surely this must be taken as a sign that in some way, the market is shifting – if even slightly away from the days of season ahead styling for the elite of society?
Furthermore, the lack of choices in terms of styling for men surely dictates that an overhaul is needed in the market to avoid the merging and blurring of styles as new brands enter the market? A process which some may argue has already started.
What is the answer to the unrequired and unfounded traits which have entered menswear collections? Perhaps the most feasible option would be to change the way we view seasonal menswear collections. The global market which was alluded to above would surely adore tailor made collections released to different parts of the world at different times. Of course these collections could be smaller, but containing the spirit or essence of a brand would mean they have the power to show different cultures that houses understand the needs of the contemporary male whilst retaining the spirit of the house. Surely this would recieve a a warm reception as men realise that in an age of austerity the difference between what you want and what you need becomes ever more evident. Of course such an overhaul is a long way off, but perhaps with more pressure from the consumer, such aparently fanciful ideas could become a reality in less time than we think.