Top Moments in Menswear 2012 – Part II

Major moments continued…

Just when did a casual run to the corner shop begin to resemble a bout of battleground training?2012 saw camo move from the context of military surplus to some of menswear’s most covetable wardrobes, being plastered over everything from men’s luxury swimwear to iPad cases.

As with so many seemingly revolutionary turnings of fashion’s tides, many of us probably thought the appropriation of camo entirely original. It’s not really the case, however, with the print apparently having made appearances as far back as the early 20th century in couture collections according to this report from camo devotees Orlebar Brown.

In recent memory, there was of the course the 90s and early noughties – a time we couldn’t quite conceal our collective wood for woodland camo in the form of cargo shorts and pants. This easily digested NY Times article from Ruth La Ferla points out how fashion looked to the streets and once again took to the trenches with John Galliano capitalizing on the trend during his tenure at Dior.

But just what accounted for the most recent revival? Although it’s been difficult to pinpoint the exact source (and let’s be honest, is there ever really one definitive source in these cases?), our current penchant for camo has probably been brewing since 2010 when military styles re-emerged on womenswear runways.

Nevertheless, it’s not all that common for womenswear and menswear trends to meet and merge as camo has done in the past year. In this vein, two words: Nick Wooster. The tats-and-monkstraps fashion-week fixture has pretty much single-handedly ushered in a new craving for camo, through his much-documented personal style or numerous design collaborations.

GQ claims it’s here to stay, for another year at least.

At long last giving London menswear the platform it deserves, the British Fashion Council launched London Collections: MEN in June. Encompassing an array of British menswear aesthetics from Savile Row tailoring to contemporary sportswear, LCM emphasises the equal importance of both the creative and commercial imperatives of menswear design.Its third season (AW13) gets underway January 7th 2013, with the most extensive roster yet.
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While I’m sure there are scores more moments worth mentioning, these five have been the most prominent for me personally, whether a trend, a momentous move for the fostering of new talent or someone with style for days.

What stood out for you?

P.S. Happy New Year y’all!
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Images from Southdacola and LCM

Top Moments in Menswear 2012 – Part I

As 2013 approaches, I thought it high time to reflect back on a year that’s been nothing short of momentous for menswear. If your post-NYE hangover sees you enduring amnesia, consider this a resource of sorts for what went down in 2012.

A Belgian designer lauded for his abstract approach, fondness for geometric shapes, and uncompromising cuts, Raf Simons heralded the arrival of a new brand of minimalism on joining Jil Sander in 2005. His outstanding Autumn Winter 2012 collections were to be his last for fashion’s foremost name in refined simplicity, with his women’s show receiving tears and a standing ovation – not bad for an industry known for its emotional intransigence.

The Autumn Winter 2012 men’s offering might have served as an indication of shifts to come. In previous seasons, Simons never failed to lend Jil Sander a freshness that the brand hadn’t exhibited before, but the shapes and the concepts that informed them were more often than not drawn within the confines of the Jil Sander aesthetic.

This men’s collection marked a departure – a darker, engulfing descent into a narrative far removed from the ascetic imperviousness of previous collections. Here, Simons pitched signifiers of serial killers and sex against icons of childlike innocence. He revelled in dominating cocoon shapes and the sumptuousness of leather, latex and vinyl, while at the same time attempting to temper the excess with strict suiting and playschool prints.

The show’s drama, both textual and extra-textual, sees it make the list.

Crispy gentlemen, take note. 2012 saw the meteoric rise of menswear Tumblr, Fuck Yeah Menswear, with founders Lawrence Schlossman and Kevin Burrows; continuing to shoot the shit on what it takes to be steezy, and scoring a sweet book deal in the process.

When it comes to a healthy dose of taking the piss out of fashion, I’m all for it – I mean, yes, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry but a lot of its foundations are built on BS, impossible ideals and questionable ethics. This particular brand of satire, however, never sat well with me, mostly for its frat-boy affectations.

Burrows and Schlossman may have started out poking fun at menswear’s all-too-serious esotericism, but when you’re getting cosy with its poster boy (Michael Williams of A Continuous Lean) at your book launch, the critical distance seems considerably shortened.

Another year, another line-up of street-style stand-outs. 2012 saw the emergence of Nathaniel Matthews, the much-documented muse of The Sartorialist’s Scott Schuman. He makes the list not for outré experimentation, but for a mastery of classic casuals that runs the gamut from WWII-era military to skins.

More notable moments in menswear to come…
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Images from The Sartorialist, and Coach

Weekday AW12: Spare but sound Scandinavian style.

God, I love Weekday. How the Swedish brand manages to continuously release collection after collection of styles that should, in theory, be boredom incarnate, but in reality, inevitably worm their collective way into my top ten of the season is pretty laudable.

I mean, you’d be totally right in saying what we’re looking at here is a pile of grey-hued (with the startling variety of raincloud-grey to charcoal!) separates, but really, this is something so much more. I could v. well be impartial here, given that these colours (plain), these cuts (largely unremarkable) and these fabrics (functional) make up what I’d describe as my personal style, but Weekday really is so much more than that.
It’s the detail (or complete lack thereof), the intransigent simplicity, the downright refusal to entertain flounce and whimsy for no good reason and, here, the series of subtle nods to styles as disparate as military, hip-hop-cum-streetwear, classic sportswear and formal tailoring. If anything, it’s wearable, versatile and – based on previous purchases – reasonably good quality for the price. 

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See more, and shop, Weekday.

COS AW12: Strict form and fun.

As much as I appreciate the fondness for worn, rugged, and casual shared by the majority of New Yorkers, the streets seem to lack the spare and slickly tailored styles epitomised by Scandi-chic and brands like COS. In fact, despite the abundance of H&Ms, COS doesn’t even have a North American presence. Calvin Klein and Armani may have seen minimalism become the mainstay here during the 90s, but it (at least its buttoned-up, stark variant) seems to have fallen out of favour at this higher-end high-street level of the market.
So, even though I’ve never really invested much in COS, it’s with a semi-heavy heart that I pore over these shots from the COS Autumn Winter 2012 press day wayyy back in April. Quilted overshirts, lots of contrast sleeves, a heavy dose of navy, charcoal and aubergine (thrown into relief by a pop of perfect autumnal colours [chocolate, sunflower yellow and olive]).

On an altogether tangential note, the press day venue, Dublin’s Waterways Centre, was perfectly on-brand. The combination of marine surroundings, wood-panelled interiors and leather upholstery was the ideal compliment to a collection that mixed unerring reliability and a few instances of playful luxury.
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See more from, and shop, COS (just have the heart to refrain from telling me about it)

Stighlorgan AW12: The Rain Never Stops.

Remember Stighlorgan? The London-based accessories brand that takes inspiration from Ireland’s landscape and cultural heritage to create bags, belts and scarves that are utilitarian, hard-wearing and chock-full of singular design details? 
They’re back for Autumn Winter 2012 with ‘The Rain Never Stops’ (never a more collection title for an Irish brand…), a collection intended as equipment for embracing the rain, featuring a slew of coated fabrics including two newly developed by the brand, the 18oz Fisherman’s lacquer canvas and 16oz paraffin wax canvas. 

^ From top: Sé, a dual function suede leather tool bag, and a new addition to the Stighlorgan family; can be worn as a holdall or rucksack; Reilly, roll-top rucksack, crafted from the 18oz Fisherman’s lacquer canvas

^ The Driscoll drawstring returns; Oisín (bottom, left) mustard zip-top rucksack, made from another custom fabric – 16oz paraffin wax canvas; Roban (bottom, right) remains a staple

^ Boann canvas webbing belt; cable knit Cian scarves
As intrepid explorer Rannulph Fiennes so brilliantly put it: ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing’.

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See more and shop the collection at Stighlorgan