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After years of attending New York Fashion Week as one of a tiny cohort of European-based press, picking my way through the slim pickings of menswear shows in the main schedule, I’m here in the city to celebrate the city’s first ever menswear week; four days of men’s fashion and nothing else. The paint on the official hoarding was literally still wet when I turned up to collect my press pass this morning, but a buzzing showcase of emerging menswear labels at Industria studios helped to get things off to a more promising start.
An early favourite is the Boyswear collection by Jackson McKeehan. Provocatively titled The Manson Family Singers, McKeehan’s debut collection took an anarchic and thoroughly unexpected mix of references: everyone’s favourite late 60’s homicidal cult, and The Sound of Music (demonstrated with droll nods to Tyrolean costume) and somehow made a great collection out of it. Prints designed by McKeehan himself: botanical florals (one seemed to reference Manson family member Squeaky Fromme’s famous tapestry designs) and trippily-vivid graphics, lent a countercultural visual flair to the collection, underpinned by a very contemporary awareness of cut and proportion. Not everyone seemed to get it, a well-known New York menswear face was heard to ask “who are The Manson Family?” and was visibly perturbed to be casually told (by McKeehan himself) “they were serial killers in the ’60s.” McKeehan is a brand new talent and I like his style. He clearly has a wicked sense of humour if this irreverent mixture of references is anything to go by, and yet, there was a delicacy to the pieces, showing that equally, there is a serious approach to fashion happening too.
David Hart’s tailoring was similarly colourful, but in a completely different realm, suggesting louche Euro playboys in generously-proportioned tailored separates and bold graphics. Jonathan Saunders’ bold approach to colour came to mind, but whereas Saunders cut is razor sharp, here shapes were softer, as if designed for tropical climates.
Featuring yet more vivid colour, Garcia Velez’s sporty collection was based on a colour bed of deep blues, with colour spectrums used as accents on extended hems and slip-on pumps in a very youthful yet refined collection.
Elsewhere, Cadet’s presentation was the most testosterone-focused of the morning, with buff models in military-inspired pieces flexing their pecs along to a live drums and vocals soundtrack. The jumpsuit was particularly successful, modelled in the main lineup by a solitary girl, and upstairs by a guy, demonstrating its versatility.
Showing off-schedule in Chinatown, Opening Cermony’s SS16 collection, was inspired at once by adolescent nonchalance and teenage fixations. Stripes were broken, to evoke the effect of crumpled, abandoned clothing, trousers were capacious and occasionally featured double-waistbands (referencing commonly-sighted teen boxer shorts, worn visibly above a loose trousers waistband). Sub-cultural male uniforms were referenced and distorted, so that the idea of the ultimate concert, represented by interchangeable velcro’d patches, defied expectations by featuring the names of classical composers in place of countercultural rock bands.
So far, so diverse. As the week ramps up and some of the bigger players on the mainstream menswear scene come out to play it will be interesting to see how this mix of emerging talent and established influencers balances out.