A splash of vivid colour, a smattering of herringbone tweed, the decline of the skinny silhouette, the triumphant return of the pleated trouser leg… what are we to take from autumn’s biggest menswear trends? How to summarise a selection whose elements range from 1990s sportswear to Napoleonic-era military outerwear? In as much as there is a unifying theme to this season’s trends at all, it could be described as a shift towards clothes that make us feel good. And in times like these, that is something worth cheering.
The pleasure that clothes bring can be purely physical, as in the sensation of brushing your fingers across velvet or corduroy. It can be nostalgic, as in the feeling that you get from a familiar old coat. It can be the simple, mood-boosting endorphin rush that you get from pulling on a colourful sweater on a cloudy day. Consider this season’s collections an expression of the Freudian pleasure principle, then, that motivating force that drives us to seek pleasure in all things, whether it’s food, music or the comfort of a cashmere topcoat.
Comfort isn’t all, though. It’s in the nature of trends that they encourage you to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. You shouldn’t be afraid to do so. These are not blink-and-you’ll-miss-it crazes, but expressions of industry-wide movements towards a new standard. Much of what you see on these pages has been a long time coming. Take the trend for a wider trouser leg, for instance, as illustrated by the plethora of pleated trousers available this season. It may still seem a touch unconventional to conservative dressers used to a slimmer leg, but a couple of years from now everyone will be doing it. Which just leaves one question: why wait?
Rejoice: skinny jeans are (finally!) on their last legs. Striding in to take their place are pleated trousers, a fine example of which is provided here by the British heritage brand Kent & Curwen. There are several reasons to be happy about this development, not least the fact that you can now put your walleat in your pocket without leaving an unsightly outline.
Fabrics once considered fusty are set for a reappraisal this autumn as designers such as Prada (left) and Raf Simons (right) yield to the timeless appeal of herringbone, houndstooth and Prince of Wales check. There’s a rustic charm to the resulting garments, but, thanks to the contemporary cuts, they are a world away from that boxy tweed blazer your dad used to wear.
Bored of navy, black and grey? Embrace the earthy colour palette of the 1970s instead. There’s a shade for every man this coming season, from rich tobacco, russet and chocolate browns to softer shades of camel and oatmeal. You can see why it’s so popular. Brown is a supremely versatile colour, working just as well as a base as it does as an accent, as demonstrated by this suede blouson jacket from Ami.
Corduroy and Velvet
Plush, feel-good fabrics such as corduroy and velvet are being employed in all sorts of appealing ways this autumn. Take, for instance, this burnt orange number from Oliver Spencer, which combines the lustrous texture of a velvet smoking jacket with the street appeal of a bomber jacket.
The world of military clothing has been an inspiration to civilian fashion ever since the turn of the 19th century, when the renowned dandy Mr George “Beau” Brummell decided to flaunt his cavalry uniform on the streets of Mayfair. The high-shine, lug-soled military boot is just the latest example of this centuries-old trend. Prada does it well here, but look out for Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga, too.
Expect down-filled jackets to descend from the mountains and into the city this winter as designers adapt skiwear for the urban environment. Moncler Gamme Bleu, a diffusion line of Italian outerwear brand Moncler, is a name to keep in mind. Helmed by creative director Mr Thom Browne, it designs tailoring-inspired jackets that look just as good on the commute as they do on the pistes.
Adding credence to the “two decades” theory, which states that as soon as something’s 20 years old it becomes fashionable again, we’re seeing a resurgence in the popularity of 1990s-style sports and streetwear. Forget the cheap polyester tracksuits that you wore in your teens, though; this is an elevated take. Think zip sweaters from Valentino, long-sleeved T-shirts from Stella McCartney and tailored skate trousers from Stüssy.
In one of the season’s most uplifting trends, we can see a few islands of colour emerging from the endless sea of navy and grey. On the left of this picture, a vibrant orange cotton-corduroy jacket from surf brand Noon Goons delivers a burst of Southern California sunshine; on the right, a splash of hot pink peeks out from beneath an Alexander McQueen double-breasted suit. Have fun with it, but remember: a little goes a long way.
Those looking to make a statement with their outerwear should consider investing in a military-inspired greatcoat this autumn. What makes it a greatcoat, and not just a great coat? Look out for distinguishing features such as epaulettes, a double-breasted configuration and a cut that extends below the knee. There are plenty to choose, with designers such as Marc Jacobs and Dries Van Noten (above) getting in on the act.
Can knitwear be an artform? The art critics might not think so, but that hasn’t stopped the likes of Missoni (above) and Prada from giving it their best shot. A more-is-more philosophy seems to have taken hold this season, with louder colours, bolder patterns and bigger, more eye-catching motifs elevating the once humble sweater to a new plane.