Where the runway meets the street

With fashion month drawing to a close, we reflect on the many Spring/Summer 2016 shows we’ve seen and muse on the significance of our 15 favorites.

As another globe-trotting fashion month draws to a close, we’re left to reflect on the many (many) Spring/Summer 2016 collections we’ve witnessed over the past month or so. This season we’ve seen controversy at Rick Owens, another promising performance from the UK’s next generation of designers at London Collections: Men and the inauguration of New York’s first-ever menswear week. To add a bit of critique and personal perspective to the season’s sartorial madness, we’ve pored over reviews, debated trends and inspected statement pieces, narrowing down the countless shows to a mere 15 favorites.

Here’s the Highsnobiety Editorial Team’s 15 best picks from the Spring/Summer 2016 collections.

Cottweiler Mixed New Age Cults & Cutting Edge Sportswear

Far and away the most impressive (and most talked-about) label I saw at London Collections: Men was Cottweiler, who showcased a line of minimalist athleticwear in an eerie installation that cited New Age religious groups as inspiration. Gongs and Hare Krishna chants echoed throughout a converted London squash court, while models clutched seashells and megaphones as if they were totems for some sort of futuristic sportswear pilgrimage. The real stars of the show, though, were the lavishly-fabricated tracksuits, executed in next-level bonded Italian nylons.

Alec Leach

Christian Dada Formed a Biker Gang

Continuing to assert Dadaism as referenced in his label’s namesake, Tokyo designer Masanori Morikawa’s extravagant, cinematic presentation that mirrored cult filmmaker Kenneth Anger’s 1963 biker subculture flick Scorpio Rising ensured that he was a cut above the rest this season. His line’s rebellious spirit carried over through splashes of punk and glam, with flowing chains, gaudy patchwork and aged leathers used in pieces which called to mind style radicals like David Bowie, Sid Vicious and Freddy Mercury. Like many design mavericks before him (Rei Kawakubo, Martin Margina and the like), Morikawa currently holds the torch for revolutionary design by simultaneously embracing the beauty of imperfection and the richness of subcultures.

Nico Amarca

Pyer Moss Assembled an Army

Independent fashion label Pyer Moss delivered a strong presentation for Spring/Summer 2016 meditating on themes of revolt, punk rock and streetwear, locked down by a strict color palette of red, black and white. The models themselves could have been mercenaries: soldiers of a future coup d’etat united under red armbands and rallying together under varying slogans and images that were used consistently through the collection. The fictional army’s officers donned smartly tailored black blazers and white button-ups, while the foot soldiers sported biker jackets and MOLLE-style accessories. An interesting show to say the least; although I would doubt the effectiveness of an army wearing Nike slides.

Chris Danforth

Fendi Dropped Luxury Normcore

If I want luxury, I want the kind of luxury that only those in the know will appreciate. None of your over-the-top mink fur and gold Cartier watches thanks, I’m not J. Lo during her P Diddy phase (although sometimes I wish I was). Fendi brought a dose of opulence to the ordinary, executing minimal silhouettes in sumptuous fabrics, resulting in copper silk T-shirts worn underneath caramel suede zip-up jackets and rich slouchy wide-leg pants. This was truly casualwear at its finest.

Maude Churchill

Pigalle Reinterpreted Basketball Attire

I’ll admit, I never quite bought into the Pigalle hype when it was just box logos and punctuated “P’s.” The young French label headed by Stephane Ashpool has come a long way over the past few seasons though, and their basketballer-moonlighting-as-a-pimp aesthetic has finally reached its pinnacle for Spring/Summer 2016. Pastels and furry-looking textures are used to great effect without being too ostentatious, while the whole high-meets-low thing that’s been going on for what seems like forever doesn’t feel tired or forced. Essentially, the whole collection just feels effortless and most importantly, wearable.

Brock Cardiner

Sadak Pushed the Envelope

While not a lot of designers are pushing the envelope with menswear right now, up-and-coming Berlin label Sadak, who showed at the city’s fashion week, are keeping things interesting. Sadak’s blend of gender-questioning silhouettes and color palettes is a huge breath of fresh air, for both men’s and women’s fashion alike. Religious themes mix with streetwear influences, while progressive tailoring meets draped silhouettes, resulting in an utterly modern collection that is as thought-provoking as it is beautiful.

Marta Sundac

Alexander Wang Brought Workwear into 2015

While so many of this season’s collections signaled bold new visions, for Spring/Summer 2016 Alexander Wang continued to do what he does best: make high-end clothing that is just dying to be worn. The 31-year-old designer injected workwear staples with lavish fabrications and a discerning eye for detail that left garments largely unadorned – save for a few blank name badges and QR code graphics – with a tasteful color palette that’ll no doubt ensure the collection translates to yet another commercial success. Oh, and I really want that jumpsuit.

Alec Leach

CWST Looked to Europe

A newcomer to the runways of New York, CWST offered up a West Coast-take on European minimalism for Spring/Summer 2016. Only the brand’s fourth collection, the color palette remained relatively safe – revolving around various shades of beige – while the fabrics ventured into more exciting territory, featuring lightweight linens and more unusual, crinkled textiles. Most importantly, the collection stood out to me as wearable, and as a departure from often intimidating runway offerings.

Chris Danforth

Komakino Explored Formalwear

When going for a more sophisticated look, I tend to sway on the luxe-lounge side of the style fence. Comfortable and effortless without looking like some frumpy office drone, but chic enough to be on par with the gelled-up stiffs that order Old Fashions at Meatpacking District clubs. Komakino’s au courant attitude towards casual couture shined through their Spring/Summer 2016 collection, applying dip-dye jobs and draping fits to everything from button-ups and topcoats to pleated trousers and blazers. Creative and versatile, this is a refreshing iteration of the mundane suit and tie get-up.

Nico Amarca

Thom Browne Channeled Geishas and Yayoi Kusama

New York’s undisputed king of menswear may be known for his minuscule palette and constricted suiting, but that doesn’t mean he’s not afraid to break the rules. Thom Browne undertook immersive presentations in both Paris and New York this season, with his first show featuring an eerie troupe of suited, Geisha-like scarecrows marching around a medieval Japanese diaroma, while his second showcase nodded to the work of Yayoi Kusama and presented his well-heeled boys in a trippy, mirrored installation. Browne is, clearly, a designer with an uncanny ability to inject a traditional menswear line with all the pomp and glamor of a Parisian couture show: probably why he attracts such a cult-like following (just see the street style outside his show for proof).

Alec Leach

sacai Drew Inspiration from Paradise Garage

Fashion week is all about the element of spectacle, and Japanese label sacai succeeded in an aesthetic assault by blending an eclectic combination of deconstructed shapes and clashing prints. Utilizing trademark Japanese deconstructivism, the collection maintained a strongly defined theme, as colors blended together to create complementary palettes and loud prints that recurred throughout. How could I ever brush aside a collection that cites New York’s Paradise Garage nightclub as inspiration?

Maude Churchill

Umit Benan Dropped Lounge Luxe

Heading to a post-revolution Cuba, Umit Benan kept things simultaneously dapper and relaxed with his take on Caribbean-flavored lounge luxe. Impeccable tailoring was softened with light fabrics, while silhouettes were one-part militaristic, one part pajama party, resulting in the kind of style perfect for my favorite activity: a strategically planned day of lazing about with both comfort and fabulousness of the utmost importance. Rich blues and greens popped against taupe and cream, while humidity-moistened skin, oil-slicked hair, and a lush leafy green setting – complete with mojitos for guests – completed the vibe.

Marta Sundac

John Elliott + Co Traveled to Vietnam

Another brand that’s been in my periphery since they came on the scene a few years ago, New York’s John Elliott + Co showed their true potential this season through an expert combination of sport and utility. Weathered fabrics were treated beautifully and extraneous details, which have since become a signature of the brand, were elevated far beyond the point of gimmick. As far as pure aesthetics go, the color palette alone was something to behold. If there’s still room on the John Elliott + Co bandwagon, I’d like a seat.

Brock Cardiner

J.W. Anderson Created a Secret Society

Current darling of the fashion world thanks to his unique vision and dismissal of gender-specific silhouettes, J.W. Anderson took to London Collections: Men to showcase a suitably unconventional collection imbued with a wistful, nostalgic sense of boyhood. The Loewe Creative Director said he wanted to form a secret society with his Spring/Summer 2016 line, and he certainly managed to create a one-of-a-kind aesthetic, playing heavily with revealing cuts, playful prints and humble, modest fabrics. J.W. Anderson may not be a designer that I would wear personally, but his fearlessly challenging collections will no doubt ensure he remains on the tip of the fashion press’s tongues for the foreseeable future.

Alec Leach

Our Legacy Debuted Pink-Infused Minimalism

To me, Our Legacy is like your favorite musician; you depend on them to show you new forms of artistic expression and creativity. At this point I’ll almost follow the Swedish brand blindly, trusting their time-tested collections regardless of how bizarrely exotic they may seem at first glance. Quintessentially Scandinavian, every single piece just feels right in the context of northern European fashion in 2015.

Brock Cardiner

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  • Photography: Adam Katz Sinding & Yana Davydova
Words by Alec Leach
Digital Fashion Editor

Alec Leach grew up in Brighton, England, but now lives in Berlin, where he leads Highsnobiety's digital fashion content.

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