Menswear at New York fashion week reviewed
My round up from The Guardian earlier this week, in case you missed it there or aren’t a Guardian visitor.
New York fashion week concludes soon and the more interesting menswear shows this week demonstrated that beneath the city’s reputation for understatement beats a less conventional heart
Duckie Brown are New York’s premier menswear experimentalists, and on Friday among the most surprising pieces in their collection were skirts and aprons inspired by sportswear and uniforms, shown alongside classic shapes such as bomber jackets and shorts. The idea of men in skirts still provokes strong reactions, which is why bolder menswear designers continue to return to it.
This collection was grounded in solid colours reminiscent of uniforms – navy, grey and khaki – and paired up with the solid heft of the collaborative Florsheim by Duckie Brown shoes in military khaki. There was a distinct lack of flounce and plenty of manly (often tattooed) leg. Sweatshirts were evolved in form but the bomber jacket shape remains a key element of the new silhouette – a cropped waist being the best way to emphasise a less conventional lower half, even if the suggestion of “skirt” is only an extended hem, or a flap or fold integrated into more familiar shorts.
General Idea’s collection was shown at the Classic Car Club, a venue with the suggestion of speed and the actual whiff of motor fuel. In this collection, the New York-based Korean designer Bumsuk Choi echoed high-end car design, from the polished shapes to the luxury of the interiors. Shiny patent trainers, elaborately demarcated panels within the clothing and luxurious luggage featured heavily. Materials included metallics, neoprene and luxury hides, though shapes were more sportswear-orientated (and thus more youthful) than classic driving attire. The sweatshirt is a garment that a number of designers are now working with. Choi’s interpretation featured more panelling and metallics. As at Duckie Brown, shorts came with skirt-like panels, suggesting that, despite the classic setting, Choi is also looking to the future.
Inspired by 1980s era, intellectual Russian youth, Robert Geller‘s collection featured colours worthy of an artist’s palette: rich, earthy reds, bottle greens and vivid turmeric yellow. But the ambience was more post-punk than painterly. Sleeves were either missing (in the form of waistcoasts) or shoved up to show that Geller’s tough characters meant business. Leather and neoprene added precision to shapes including sleeveless biker vests. Colour blocking and prints brought constructivist artworks to mind, but the footwear placed the collection firmly in the present, with panelled track shoes similar to Nike’s current Flyknits and laceless zippered monkstraps.
Public School’s show was one of the most raucous in town. Tough-looking models played up to a packed room during a static presentation on Sunday – traditionally the day that New York’s emerging and underground menswear talent shows its stuff. Always a label strongly influenced by streetwear, Public School’s new collection featured beautifully executed MA1-style bomber jackets in black and khaki. The limitations of this army surplus colour palette focused attention on the materials and the detail, which are always a strong point for this very New York brand.
Russian references were also on display at Siki Im, one of New York’s most conceptual designers. This collection was inspired by the idea of lives lived in the shadow of remorse. The show notes even included a quote from Dostoyevsky’s Crime And Punishment. This lofty, intagible theme was translated into oversized versions of classic menswear shapes, including field jackets, T-shirts, shorts and chinos, with generously cut fabrics allowing movement and graceful draping. Harsh institutional whites were tempered with rich blacks and washed-out pastels, and some pieces featured specially commissioned prints based on Russian prison tattoos. Im’s show always features the cream of male models, and this was no exception, led by Jil Sander’s muse, Clement Chabernaud.
As a footnote, key New York streetwear trends can be summed up in one word: black. Layered up black sportswear, ideally not visibly branded, and mixed with tailoring makes for a look that defies the still steamy daytime temperatures. Trainers, meanwhile, continue to advance on the more traditional footwear worn without socks that has been a staple for the last few years. Jumpsuits for men, both vintage and in high-end fabrics, are also an option for those trim enough to carry them off.