When, at the end of 2019, I asked for men to embrace a more elegant aesthetic in 2020 I didn't expect it happen so fast.
But leave it to the Italians, those masters of tailoring, to show how menswear can be both simultaneously fun and entirely wearable. From the looks of the runways, (most, not all) designers are moving away from hyper trend driven gear that only ever looks good on Instagram and instead creating the kind of clothes that even the most dubious of us could incorporate into the daily wardrobe.
Suiting for the future
The week kicked off with luxury tailoring label Ermenegilda Zegna, who continued their focus on upcycling and sustainable practices with second iteration of their #UseTheExisting campaign.
Artistic director Alessandro Sartori has continued to play with the rules of tailoring, softening its edges. Overlapping and layering are the future of the modern suit – wrap-around, belted blazers will be the new double-breasted. Undeniably more formal than previous collections, slight tweaks to sizing (according to Sartori, a mere two centimetres was added to shoulder breadth on jackets to create a slight boxier effect – a reminder of how small subtleties such as this can have huge impacts in tailoring) and draping still presented an informal silhouette.
Similarly at Etro, tailoring was the base upon which was built a kind of character or persona out of fashion – this one an arts history or literature professor specialising in South American culture. Ponchos, blankets and chullos (hats) were styled with riding boots, paisley and plaid. Cardigans and knitwear gave the entire collection a bohemian-in-Baja-but-make-it-intellectual vibe and frankly that's something we should be aspiring to.
Reuse, repurpose, refine
The Emporio Armani line has also joined the cause for more sustainability. Inside their collection was a capsule of garments dubbed R-EA, made from recycled and organic materials that the designer said was only the beginning of the conversation. At Giorgio, however, it was luxury with a capital L.
Unfortunately, Australian audiences might have little use for oversized puffer jackets, mittens and down-filled scarves but they were fun to look at.
Hold my bag
While the idea of gender lines has become a little old hat and, dare I say, predictable Gucci and Fendi showed that there are still ways to do it and do it well. And in this instance it was the accessories. Both brands have built a reputation for creating iconic bags for women in the past and now it's our turn.
Totes, crossbody, clutches, and shoppers have slowly been entering the lexicon of male accessories (the word manbag is bogus and should never be used again) but 2020 could be the year it finally hits the mainstream. At Fendi, yellow leather accessories were inspired by their own packaging stole the show while Gucci simply told male models "hold my bag" and presented them a handbag.
The unstoppable Gucci seems to have also found a better pace for their menswear collection. Still fanciful as ever, there was more consideration in the styling this time around and the viewer was less bombarded with what was on display than previous shows. Oversized washed denim with an oil tint and ill-proportioned knitwear will no doubt be seen in every vegan café over the coming months…
This time last year, sneakers were the Holy Grail of every runway – who did them bigger, brighter, (uglier if you're Vetements). This year, it feels as though designers took a trip to their local sporting outlet and found inspiration by the great outdoors.
Wading boots (usually worn by fly fishermen and extreme hikers) were spotted at both Fendi and Prada while Salvatore Ferragamo created gumboots from the same fabric as their suits. A nod to potential environmental collapse? Perhaps. According to Miuccia Prada the inspiration came from the simplicity of work – getting to work, doing your work, getting home from work. It's a nice acknowledgement for a practice that takes up one third of our adult life.
Check out the gallery up top to see some of the best looks from Milan men's fashion week.