For what feels like the last two years, Supreme's seasonal drops have been at the center of the menswear universe. Streetwear reigned, well, supreme in menswear, and no brand has been more fetishized than the New York skate brand.
Even at the highest echelons of fashion, Supreme was omnipresent on buyers whose stores didn't carry the brand, on editors whose magazines didn't cover the brand and on designers who worked at other brands. It was emblematic not only of streetwear's ethos and aesthetic, but of the thirst for the highly-coveted and extremely-limited pieces and sneakers that drove the growth of the resale market.
Things are beginning to feel different, though. With menswear going through what might best be described as an aesthetic correction, it doesn't feel like Supreme's Spring 2020 is the be-all and end-all it once was. Saying that streetwear will die is an overstatement — even if that's what Virgil thinks — but a more nuanced version of that statement is probably true: Streetwear's days as the driving force for menswear as a whole are over, though there are still some remnants. Supreme was a good barometer for just how influential streetwear was, and as recently as this summer, there would be at least one Supreme piece spotted among the crowd at every show (if not more).
That was not the case this season.
You can learn a lot about where menswear is and where it's going in the immediate future from the buyers and editors that frequent the shows. For one, they're the ones that tend to feature in street style reports, which can often spark consumer trends. More importantly, though, they're gatekeepers in the sense that they're the ones who have decided what is and isn’t seen in stores and editorials in any given season.
At a micro-level, it can be difficult — a fashion editor from Dazed and a buyer from Harrods might not be wearing the same brands — but, on a macro-level, there are a number of trends that stand out on the streets outside the menswear shows. Ones that cement the idea that menswear is changing, albeit with some remnants of streetwear.
Here are six trends that were impossible to miss on menswear's power brokers which could prove to be a good bet on what men will be wearing in the coming months.
Trading Sneakers for… Mules?
Menswear has been staring at a post-sneaker world for a few seasons now, but the bubble seems to finally be letting some air out. For the first time in what feels like years, there was a relative lack of it sneakers outside shows. Where previous seasons had a Balenciaga Triple S, Nike x Undercover React Element 87 or even something along the lines of a New Balance 990, that left no doubt that sneakers were the footwear of choice, at this current moment, there's no ubiquitous sneaker silhouette or brand on the feet of buyers and editors.
Loafers were a popular choice — as menswear insiders have rightfully tipped for renewed popularity — and one particular Prada model made multiple appearances from London to Paris. But it was the omnipresence of mules in London, Florence, Milan and Paris that was both surprising and telling.
From UGG's recent collaboration with Japanese streetwear imprint Neighborhood to the classic Birkenstock Boston — and a less classic Chrome Hearts edition — to a new J.W. Anderson felt loafer mule, there was something for every aesthetic and price point.
The J.W. Anderson one, in particular, made a late appearance in Paris, but was the type of thing that, once you noticed it on one person at one show, you suddenly realized was everywhere.
For a few seasons now, the mule has been slowly making headway with men as a casual shoe. The way editors and buyers were wearing them — paired with both jeans and suit pants — points towards them being embraced in more formal, day-to-day settings. In some sense, it's the midway point between sneakers and loafers, so this is a natural evolution.
Double-Down on Double-Breasted
With the decline of streetwear, prep's revival has seemed inevitable. What didn't seem inevitable, though, was the rise in popularity of double-breasted jackets.
Sprezzatura is a term that refers to a manner of dressing in a way that projects an air of nonchalance, while still looking good. Double-breasted jackets have always been popular with that crowd, because, when worn correctly, they can be less stuffy than traditional blazers. But what buyers and editors are wearing now might best be described as a new form of streetwear-inflected sprezzatura — one that sees the double-breasted blazer worn unbuttoned, and layered over either a plain T-shirt, hoodie or crewneck, but paired with matching suit pants.
As with clogs, it was the presence of such varied options, in terms of price points and aesthetics — and on such varied people — that make this particularly interesting for eventual mainstream adoption. From the cheeky, slightly subversive and streetwise offerings from the likes of Noah and Rowing Blazers, to hyper-luxe avant-garde designs from Maison Margiela and Dior Homme, double-breasted blazers, in one form or another, were a regular sight at almost every show.
No, men aren't suddenly going to start dressing in head-to-toe red. But, will they pair bright, eye-catching red accessories with something a little more toned-down? Or work one show-stopping red piece into an outfit? If the editors and buyers are any indication, then the answer is absolutely yes.
There were red beanies aplenty, in every city from London to Paris, but particularly in Florence, often paired with something simple like white jeans and a navy blue jacket, to offer a touch of contrast and pop. But what really drove this trend home? London-based Stüssy creative consultant Jordan Vickors pairing simple red gloves with a blue Louis Vuitton jacket in Paris. The embossed jacket is the statement piece, but it was the red gloves that really stood out and tied everything together.
Others, like Moda Operandi's Josh Peskowitz or British GQ's Luke Jefferson Da, opted for red socks or layering a red shirt under their coats — assuming, of course, that the coat wasn't red, another popular option.
Herringbone and Houndstooth Coats
Speaking of coats — it was a big season for big coats. Peskowitz is, again, among those to thank for that. But, for every belted camel coat, it seemed like there were two or three herringbone and houndstooth coats.
While this is probably less indicative of what people will be wearing in the warmer months, it's interesting to consider this as an extension of the post-streetwear trend, with technical jackets and voluminous puffers replaced with tailoring-adjacent coats from the likes of Marni, Deveaux or Pendleton.
The best-dressed buyers and editors paired them with simple pieces — black trousers, plain T-shirts and crewnecks — because the great thing with these coats is that they're statement pieces on their own. But does that mean that it just seems like everybody is wearing herringbone and houndstooth because they stand out in a memorable way? I counted no fewer than a dozen guests at the Jil Sander show in Florence wearing a herringbone or houndstooth coat, marking the moment when it really stood out as bonafide trend. So, yes, men are actually wearing them en masse.
For years, Sacai has been celebrated by the fashion cognoscenti. Most of that has owed to the spectacular nature of Chitose Abe's womenswear collections. The menswear, while certainly good, hasn't quite reached the level of Abe's shape-shifting and material-melding womenswear. You would see a lot of Sacai at the show, and maybe on a select few people outside of that day, but, for the most part, the brand remained niche.
This season was interesting because not only were a lot of industry insiders wearing Sacai — and not just to the show, as was once the case — but there was a palpable energy surrounding the show, with even the less in-the-know passersby aware of what Sacai was. While much of that probably owes to a collaboration with Nike that catapulted Sacai to new levels of mainstream recognition (another example of how, even if streetwear isn't a direct influence, the future of menswear is still shaped by its former outsized influence) this felt like it was about so much more than hyped sneakers.
For the first time, it seems like the fandom for Sacai's menswear is finally as fervent as that for its womenswear. So now would be a good time to start scouring recommerce sites for second-hand Sacai.
Pierpaolo Piccioli made an appearance at Craig Green's first show in Paris and, on his way in, another guest was effusive in his praise for Piccioli's Fall 2020 Valentino collection, which had shown a few days prior. Normally, that should be taken with a grain of salt — the type of comment made simply because it was Piccioli — but it was another one of those moments that tied together a bunch of small things.
By then, I had lost count of the number of Valentino x Undercover pieces I had seen. What seemed like an odd partnership at first has captivated the menswear world. Like with Sacai, Valentino's dalliance with streetwear has rejuvenated it and given it renewed relevance.
For a long time, Valentino had a kitschy aura to it, but now, it seems as though it exudes some underground, albeit extremely luxurious, cool. Buyers and editors genuinely appreciate what Piccioli is doing at the house and they are increasingly wearing his designs. Does this mean that Valentino, as a whole, is suddenly going to change? Probably not. Stores will probably still have a healthy selection of VLTN logo T-shirts, leather accessories and studded camouflage sneakers. But the selection in stores might start to include widened range of more understated but refined pieces.