“Men are the new women,” or so went the refrain of the fashion pack who have travelled from London to Florence to Milan to Paris over the last three weeks, taking in the menswear collections for Spring/Summer 2013. Indeed, according to a recent report by Bain & Company, a consulting firm, the luxury menswear market is growing at almost 14 percent per year, outpacing growth in womenswear by almost double. And, as male consumers begin to take to style and fashion with the same fervour as their female counterparts, menswear is a growing priority for luxury and fashion brands.
For the first time, London staged its own series of men’s shows, trumpeting the heritage of Savile Row’s bespoke tailors and the creative energy of East London, over three days that began with an unforgettable launch event at St James’ Palace, hosted by the Prince of Wales himself. In Milan, the Italian luxury menswear brand Brioni showed its first collection since being acquired by PPR, the global luxury group, in November of last year. And in Paris, rival luxury group LVMH pulled out all the stops for a striking tableaux vivant presentation and dinner, held in the Jardin du Palais Royal, for Berluti, a brand that is making a big push into ready-to-wear from its bespoke shoes roots.
So what’s driving all this momentum in menswear? The experts I spoke to along the fashion trail this season boiled it down to three factors:
Color and Print
The Return of Sharp Suiting
The Influence and Convenience of the Internet
POPPING PRINTS AND COLORS
In a move that changed the direction of menswear, Raf Simons triggered a colour tsunami, two years ago, when he showed his SS 2011 collection for Jil Sander during Pitti Uomo, perhaps the most important bi-annual congregation of menswear fashion press and buyers anywhere in the world.
Just as the show was about to start in the garden of a beautiful Florentine villa, dark clouds rolled in and Mr. Simons’ models appeared in a jarring, but incredibly beautiful display of fluoro fuchsias, teals and tangerines. Set against the stormy backdrop, the popping colors were instantly seared into the collective fashion consciousness.
Raf Simons for Jil Sander S11
Fast forward two years and the stands at Pitti Uomo were awash in colour and print, as were the runways and front rows of the men’s shows this season. Even typically conservative tailoring brands like Zegna and Ferragamo were betting on the colour story. It begs the question. Has the color trend in menswear jumped the proverbial shark? “Color continues to perform very well for Mr Porter,” said Jeremy Langmead, editor-in-chief of the menswear etailer, as we walked out of the Rick Owens show in Paris over the weekend.
This helps to explain why so many brands are continuing to push colour for Spring/Summer 2013. But by the time the collections for Autumn/Winter 2013 come around, I suspect the fashion pack may have moved onto something new. This color brigade can’t last for much longer…
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Imran Amed is founder and editor-in-chief of The Business of Fashion.