Men have historically been reticent to embrace the "f" word. Fashion, after all, is what a secret cabal of elite designers, #influencers, and high-powered editors decide you should buy every season, isn't it? They decide which color is the new black, how pants should fit in 2017 (when will boot cut come back?!), and whether dropped shoulders are still relevant. Men value "style" instead, the notion that it isn't what you buy, it's how you wear it.
But really, the two are more connected than most people think. Not to get all Miranda Priestly on you, but there's a correlation between what's on offer in a given season and the very real shifts in what men wear year-to-year. Of course, with men's clothing, the movements happen in centimeters, not great big sweeping silhouette changes like womenswear.
To give you a better idea of how things done changed, here's a snapshot of what's popping in menswear right now. These are 10 pieces that clearly define the #aesthetic of today's stylish man.
Schott Perfecto Jacket
The thing about menswear is that most of it is rooted in the idea of classics—things that won't go away, can be found at a vintage store, and in the words of writer William Gibson: "could have been worn, to a general lack of comment, during any year between 1945 and 2000." The Schott Perfecto falls squarely into that category.
There are plenty of biker jackets out there right now—John Elliott just dropped a cool one in collaboration with the Japanese leather artisans at Blackmeans, for example—but the original can't be beat. It still represents the outlaw spirit of guys like Marlon Brando in The Wild One and the youthful subversion of The Ramones. The fit may change, the leather may vary in quality, but everyone knows the source material.
Noah Twill 6-Panel Hat
"Dad style" is the catch-all term for our current predilection with high-waisted pleated trousers, light-washed denim, and curved-brim twill baseball caps. You can blame pseudo-trends like "normcore" for helping proliferate these kinds of items, but you can't deny that in plenty of circles, it's very much a "thing."
The embroidered baseball cap remains an affordable accessory that can be copped anywhere from cosmopolitan souvenir stands, Kanye West's pop-up merch shops, to struggle Big Cartel shops that embroider anything from memes to designer parodies on them. Noah's version speaks to our current hunger for #brands and style that speaks softly but carries a lot of cultural currency. It's a wearable membership card to a club that only other internet-obsessed gear nerds will understand, and yet, there's a strange appeal in that.
Engineered Garments Bedford Jacket
Circa 2007, every other guy swore he was only going to dress up and wear tailored clothing from that point on. Then he sold that all on eBay and forums to cop a bunch of streetwear and covetable sneakers. Now those same people are realizing that it's totally be possible to be a man that can do both. Unconstructed tailoring and hype gear can co-exist peacefully—kind of like the human being and fish.
Engineered Garments has always excelled at this mix of grown-up clothes with a casual attitude, and the Bedford Jacket is an exemplary model. Part hunting jacket, part blazer, and part transitional piece, it speaks to how "dressing up" these days is literally just throwing a blazer on. As dress codes from esteemed financial services companies and law firms continue to skew more towards business casual than full-on suits, tailored gear with a relaxed bent bridges the gap between fussy formalwear and easy-wearing everyday clothing.
Gosha Rubchinskiy Socks
"But wait, what are socks doing here?" you may ask. The answer is this: Nothing quite speaks to the modern brand-driven mindset more than a $30 pair of socks from a buzzed-about designer. As filmmaker Adam Curtis posits in his recent short for VICE, we are at a point where our obsession with name brands and perceived quality has become a surrogate for escapism.
Sure, the tyranny of choice and the sheer amount of product we're inundated with on a daily basis can cause us to Marie Kondo the shit out of any brand we're not familiar with in favor of supporting a select few, but on the downside, it's made many of us lemmings to the point where Supreme can sell a $30 brick with ease.
Saint Laurent Classic Wyatt 40 Harness Boot
We've covered Hedi Slimane's lasting influence on Saint Laurent extensively, and aside from the super-slim denim cuts, luxurious takes on rider's jackets and teddy jackets, he revitalized the label's footwear game. Sure, the Jordan-inspired colorways of the SL/10H or the printed slip-ons with everything from vampire lips to palm trees are memorable, but Slimane was at the forefront of reintroducing Chelsea boots and Western-inspired footwear into the menswear vernacular.
The Wyatt boot has numerous iterations, from a strapped jodhpur, a zipper Chelsea, and a straightforward pull-on Chelsea, but the harness boot best represents his subtle design mastery. The Cuban heel is by no means an easy thing to make palatable, and Slimane's signature proportion play shines on this silhouette, making it stand apart from vintage versions while imbuing the shoe with a soft, unquantifiable power that instantly makes it covetable. To many men, it's the thing you had no idea you wanted until you discovered its very existence.
Supreme Box Logo Hoodie
Welcome to the era of the statement hoodie. As "athleisure" (just typing the word induces a slight sense of nausea) becomes the uniform du jour of the SoulCycle generation and aspiring roadmen alike, even the simplest staples have been redone as "elevated basics" (cue another dry heave).
In the words of creative director Jen Brill to BoF: "Putting on a new Supreme hoodie feels as good as wearing a new designer bag." Just merely looking at the resale prices on Stadium Goods gives you an impression of how sought-after the Supreme box logo hoodie is. While it's by no means a new thing, it does have a newfound relevance in a market flooded by designer versions of jersey knits.
Vetements Oversized Hoodie
If a Supreme hoodie is the Birkin bag of logo sweatshirts, then Vetements' oversized versions are whatever new "it" bag currently has the attention of the fashion cognoscenti. Prohibitively priced, recognizable from a great distance away, and frequently sold out, the Vetements hoodie is indicative of a new kind of fashion sheep. It represents a person who buys things to be seen in them, and may not actually identify with the designer nor have a deeply rooted interest in fashion—they just want to look cool.
That isn't to disparage every single Vetements fan—Demna Gvasalia has established himself as one of the most salient designers of the time, but he also possesses a great degree of self-awareness. In fact, he recently admitted even he’s not “crazy fashion enough to go and buy those things," in regards to his own collection.
Nike Sportswear Tech Fleece Pants
Nike has an established design history of melding form and function in footwear, but it was their Tech Fleece that made them one of the most formidable apparel forces in the industry today. The Nike Tech Fleece pants fit like skinny jeans, but contain tiny multitudes. Taped seams add a technical appeal, and an elongated zip pocket is the perfect place to store a smartphone.
Uniqlo U MA-1 Blouson
Designer collaborations are practically a dime-a-dozen these days, but when they work, they absolutely kill it. Case in point? Christophe Lemaire's collaboration with Uniqlo, which effectively carried the torch of Jil Sander's +J collection. It created a line of accessibly-priced goods with a lauded designer's name behind it, and perfectly aligned with Sander and Lemaire's signature minimalism.
Lemaire's first outing as Uniqlo's artistic director, Uniqlo U, demonstrates the ideal synthesis between a mass commercial retailer and a product-focused designer. His take on the bomber jacket, the most Googled menswear outerwear piece of 2015, encapsulates what every guy looks for: clean lines, decent quality, a thought-out fit (cropped and slightly boxy), and most of all—a great price.
adidas Ultra BOOST
For the longest time, sneaker companies were getting by on their own laurels. Retros are great, and sneakers like the Stan Smith or Air Jordan 1 are pretty much established as classics, but where adidas has excelled lately is pushing things forward. The Ultra BOOST is the perfect marriage of future-leaning design, comfort-inducing technology, and just enough familiarity to place it in the present. It's why it was the perfect canvas for our 10th Anniversary collaboration.
So while we're probably not going to see the total disappearance of the demand for retro kicks (for some reason, we've become accustomed to carrying around supercomputers in our pockets while wearing 40-year-old silhouettes), the Ultra BOOST is a small step towards the next great leap in the sneaker game—shoes informed by the future, but made for right now.