The future of menswear is looking slick and shiny if London Fashion Week Men's is anything to go by. As the first city to initiate men's season, London's fashion week offerings lean towards the experimental and provide a strong platform for new ideas, even if they don't always pan out into the commercial sector - at least not right away.
However, it is a great place to sniff out the key items that are going to blow up this year. But using London Fashion Week as a crystal ball for 2018 trends means paying as much attention to the clothes shown by designers as we do to the style of London's, let's face it, super-trendy attendees.
From last weekend's schedule there were many spectacles that had trend forecasters basically dribbling. It would be remiss not to mention the technical, string-laden outerwear at Craig Green (shown with architectural latex balloons) or the gold jumpsuits and tiger prints at Blood Brother, all of which have potential to catch a wave over the next couple of months.
However, one thing in particular that cropped up on and off the runway to tingle our style senses was a certain use of shiny, black, almost PVC-like material that seemed to coat some of our favorite pieces with a very slick, and highly contemporary gloss. The effect, whether intentional or not, had a slight throwback to The Matrix and a bit of a BDSM feel, but also gave a luxe finishing touch to fall/winter outerwear that we’d definitely like to see more of come Milan, Paris and New York.
We first clocked this at at A-COLD-WALL *. Samuel Ross's third show used the material to highlight the contrast from the rest of his matte/reflective workwear-inspired collection, titled "The New Gallery." Flexing in a range of unorthodox black and rubbery materials, Ross' models wore hooded short-sleeve anoraks, shiny standalone hood accessories, long liquid-like trench coats and inky angular pants too.
Former boxer Arashi Yanagawa launched his fashion line John Lawrence Sullivan in 2003. Since then, Yanagawa has played with the illusions of power that we ascribe to masculinity and reworked them into punk-ish and elegant garments.
For FW18, he literally cut these paradigms of masculinity down the middle with duo-tone pants in denim down one leg and leather down the other. These were then styled with outerwear featuring details of classic motorcycle jackets around the top and dusty leather trenches near the middle and lower sections.
The result was described by one Instagram user as the "perfect outfit for a school shooter." Hmm. We saw it more as dissection of black leather outerwear and its associations with the rogue masculine identity, but either way, we’re really into it.
And finally, the trend popped up in the collection from relatively new label Pronounce. Designers Yushan Li and Jun Zhou, who are based in Milan and Shanghai, combined elements from East and West for FW18. For us, the highlight was this oversized, super-high-collared coat with shiny black pants to match. Clock those enormous oversized pockets too.
As we’ve expressed time and time again, fashion is a cyclical industry and while new ideas do appear to come out of nowhere, they can nearly always be traced back to someone who did it before, and sometimes better. Our friends at Diet Prada are keeping track of that with their ruthless calling-out of copycats, but even we can see this isn’t the first time designers have played with the concept of all-black outwear as a menswear staple before.
COMME des GARCONS x Supreme
When Supreme collaborated with COMME des GARCONS SHIRT in April of last year, the result saw a dip into the house's archives to pull out some of the more abstract materials CdG founder Rei Kawakubo is known for. Like any good collaboration, the impact has succeeded past the initial hype and the shiny waterproof anorak can be seen in the aptly poor weather at LFWM below.
We also saw similar vibes in the styling of this outfit, a grade-A execution of the Craig Green x Moncler collaboration, famously worn by Skepta, which is now being finessed in the street.
In a style climate that still champions clunky dad trainers, it's fair to say that menswear has surpassed all levels of comfortable irony by now. With that in mind, there's really no reason not to leave the house in copious layers of shiny black rubber outerwear, if that's how one is inclined. It symbolizes a return to a more conceptual style ethos.
Are the days of athleisurewear and comfort-prioritizing, oversized tracksuit pants coming to an end? Our recent evaluation of YEEZY Season 6 noted how the fundamentally basic shapes and colors are an urge to keep things simple, but maybe it's time to start dressing up a bit more, even if that means enduring sweat-inducing temperatures as you flex in a heavy floor-length leather duster.
Follow our style Instagram for real-time updates across all international fashion weeks to see what trends are bubbling up this season.