Who or what is the modern male? And when found do any of us actually know what he stands for in this day and age? The lines of masculinity are so blurred that most men couldn’t tell you what is ‘male’ these days. There is no doubt that the male persona is in a state of flux and because of this are suffering. The male is damaged; It’s not just about the ongoing news of sexual harassment by men of women (and of men) coming out of literally every business worldwide, or the underpayment of women (by men) the raise in male suicide which have risen from the emotional pressures men are under which they feel ill equipped to deal with.
Let’s take as an example of the changes the horrific treatment of women by men which has been going on globally for centuries – unacceptable in any shape or form yet it is engrained in all our psyche (just listen to any a song on any radio station) I caught the phrase in the song blurred lines by Robin Thicke ‘I know you want it’ ‘ he repeats… Undoubtedly a sentiment used as an excuse by men as an reasoning for rape…
A conversation had with a male journalist during LFWM who stated he was sick of hearing women complain, after all he said, not all men are to blame. To be fair, not all of women blame all men but it’s safe to say most men have reaped the rewards across many facets of their life at the expense of women; be it conscious or not. More importantly, women aren’t the only ones to suffer the abuse. Other men, and even children, all seem under the cosh now (as it’s being more exposed) from an ugly outdated form of paternal energy. So why am I bringing this up in a review of AW18/9 mens’ show from London?
As ever, Fashion is a great mirror to life and to our subconscious. Want to know what’s floating in our minds and hearts? Look at the latest fashion shows and you can so easily read between the lines. After all, as George Taylor said in 1926: “When the world feels good, skirts get short” (Dresses shorten in times of prosperity and lengthen in times of crisis, Editor’s note), yet again a slightly sexist statement when you take a moment to think about it…So what did London Fashion Week Men have to say as a measure of where we are at?
Well, we have had the blurred lines on gender for a while now which has grown from a trend to something utterly integrated into society. This season, rather than just being seen on the catwalks of the young club inspired shows, it can now be directly traced from these shows to the state of the new men’s suiting aesthetic. This seasons staple it is a more fluid take on suiting but it was, nevertheless, one of the key trends seen at the London shows. From soft draping to cinched (elasticated) waists, to suits made from work-wear fabrics, to utilitarian-shaped pieces styled into suits – going all the way to kilt suits. It’s not just the shapes but fabrics, colour and styling; think rainbow velvet to shirtless suiting. The look and it seems meaning of the suit has drastically altered.
In this season, suiting now rhymes with pairing cargo pants with a matching utility jacket. So is there somewhere an underlying question as to what does the suit stand for in the changing masculine world? It certainly seems to want to distance itself from the patriarchal energy so rightly under attack right now. Not just because of past connotations, but because it gives men a new freedom to be far more gentle, relaxed. In fact, the freedom to be whatever he may want to be: a message to clearly bought about as mentioned above with the gender neutral shows of the past few seasons in London (which were preceded by the 80’s blitz kids, who were preceded by the likes of those involved in the 1970’s alternative Ms World and so on and so on. No longer the preserve of luminaries like Charles Jeffries bought forward by Rottingdean Bazaar, this has hit mainstream and across multiple shows, albeit in a more subtle way.
Along the same lines and ironically as Britain decides it wanted out of the European Union and makes itself stand alone (why? who only knows!) we see again as a off shot and in its own way a standalone up coming trend the idea that skirts and floor length draping are not the preserve of club kids but part a global daily men’s uniform. With Britain educating some of the best of the worlds fashion students coming from East and West Asian, the Middle East, etc., many places around the world where seeing a man in a skirt or dress is not news it’s just the cultural norm. Up until recently, foreign fashion students studying in Europe or North America headed for a westernised ideal of menswear (almost always structure around suiting /military as a starting point), but looking particularly at the LCF student MA show this season, we see draping and skirts integrated by students within outfits, not in any way as a cultural reference or a gender neutral statement but just part and parcel of modern global menswear outfit. This makes for exciting if albeit subtle shift which we can only hope will work its mirroring magic. So what are the other trends on show in London? Will we see any reaffirmed in both Milan and Paris?
Charles Jeffery Loverboy
Checks were everywhere, from small to extra large coloured and neutral tones. As were big pockets and we mean BIG, whether on cargo style wide trousers or actually hanging off jackets like a sports bag, even attached to ankles, arms or dangling from any big pocket, paired with wellington boots, football style scarves, webbing, ties and drawstring were also a-plenty. Trousers were all about the added detail such as above drawstrings, pockets, applique but also side stripes, so make sure next winter your chosen bottoms have a mass of detailing.
Sportswear, ever present and seems to move much more towards outdoor wear, to walking, to rock climbing, and even to the modern sailor, so it seems now you have to walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to sports activity. With added texture of wet look and high shine fabrics, and some metallic’s, it all feels somewhat flashier than seasons before.
Padding and the Cowboy were referenced at many shows, as well as the refresh of corduroy, from needle fine to jumbo and then at its final stop, velvet. As with last season’s colour-blocking was far more important than print with orange, ochre, cumin and taupe, it was very present and offset by a lot of black, white, candy tones and rainbow hints.
Detailing at the back of garments was noticeable. It seems the back is finally just as important as the front; some lovely inverted box pleated jackets or detailing such as patched pockets, trims, etc. So will A/W 2018 be a time for looking in the mirror both front and back, and if so maybe just maybe what reflects back will symbolise something interesting about the future of the Male.
L-R: Wood Wood, Qasimi, What We Wear
L-R: Liam Hodges, Oliver Spencer, Phoebe English MAN
L-R: Band of Outsiders, Belstaff, Berthold
L-R: Bethany Williams, DANSHAN AND CHIN
L-R: D.GNAK, Tourne de Transmission, Edward Crutchley
L-R: Per Gotesson, Michiko Koshino, Craig Green
L-R: Nicholas Daley, Paria Farzaneh, John Lawrence Sullivan
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