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Explore the most noteworthy trends, with regards to both clothing and presentation, from Men’s Fashion Week S/S 21.

By Marissa Lee.

As the curtain closes on the Spring 2021 Menswear Fashion Week shows, we sit in the afterglow of their ingenuity and craftiness, thanks only to (pardon the buzzwords) unforeseen and unprecedented circumstances. As models paraded down respective runways en route to the new normal, innovation was the hottest accessory, followed only by a good dose of, “maybe we needed this.”

There is no playbook on how to present a fashion show during a global pandemic, at least not before this past month. However, if there’s one thing every creative loves, it’s a good challenge. Ever since the news broke in late April warning the fashion community of the all-too-real possibility of cancelling fashion weeks, the creative directors sat down at the drawing board, and the results did not disappoint.

Some brands, such as Kiko Kostadinov and Dolce and Gabbana opted for the traditional route, the former delivering his collection in an empty salon in an 18th-century London mansion, and the latter presenting azure blue and white-clad models to an small audience in Milan. The Etro collection, which was also presented in Milan, joined D&G with an in-person audience, making it the first fashion show in history to be presented live after a pandemic-enforced lockdown. These two brands, alongside JW Anderson and Isabel Marant, largely played into the trend of psychedelic prints, one of many motifs present in the Men’s collections. From color-blocked squares at Issey Miyake to trippy contrasting blue and white shapes at D&G, prints were the object of many designers’ affection.

More popular among this season’s collections was the lookbook-style presentation. Dior, MSGM, and Isabel Marant are among names who ditched the runway and offered instead campaign-style photographs to unveil their creations.

Most impressive of the still-photograph collections was that of Nicholas Daley, the notoriously clever Jamaican-Scottish fusion brand and recent winner of the LVMH prize. Having only stepped onto the scene within the last five years, this youngblood is wise beyond his years, crafting collections of afro-inspired, Savile-caliber clothing, usually presented with a side of tongue-in-cheek playfulness. This collection was no different. Daley’s most recent work, a collection entitled Stepping Razor, was inspired by his recent love of karate. The photo series features a model performing various karate kicks, crescendoing to a final shot up-close shot of a graphic t-shirt, bearing the name of the collection. The tam caps and loose-knit string vests that populate the collection are reminiscent of classic Jamaican heritage style, while loose-fitting canvas and linen sets make the collection appropriate for the dojo or a dinner party.

One trend that may not fly at dinner, however, were the strappy sandals featured in nearly every collection including those of Isabel Marant, Hermès, and Dolce and Gabbana. From the beach thong-esque flip flops in the Jacquemus show to the chunky sandals reminiscent of Suicokes at Dior, the open-toed ideology may be one we’ll reserve for the beach.

Lastly, we revere the brands that completely up and left the metaphorical fashion box. The most notable are JW Anderson and Undercover, both already extremely innovative brands, even when not faced with a global pandemic. JW Anderson, in all its new-age knitwear glory, adorned caricature clothing racks with their latest collection, pairing each ensemble with a respective cartoon face attached at the neck hole, eliminating the need for models completely. However, the altered mannequins didn’t stop the brand from contributing to the trend of oversized shoulder bags, propagated also by the likes of Kiko Kostadinov and Prada, among others. The murse (man-purse) has finally arrived, having grown from its status as side-saddle accessory and moved up in the ranks to large and in-charge.

Jun Takahashi’s Undercover, under the creative direction of Patrick Li, took viewers to a digital landscape featuring a completely animated collection sported by animated models. The collection, aptly titled 2020, is completely interactive, and viewers can navigate 3D models of every outfit via the Undercover website. The models were perfectly pixelated in a retro-fied style, yet the clothing itself maintained its full and unperturbed essence.

It’s impossible to say that any of the designers disappointed; clothing aside, the presentations of the collections themselves are something to be recognized. The collections covered nearly every base, including a fleet of gothic trench coats (Yohji Yamamoto, Loewe), beach sandals, and nearly every color in the Pantone book. The S/S ‘21 menswear shows were refreshing, responsible, and best of all, reassuring. As we walk the tightrope on the way back to a recovered world, we are granted at least the peace of mind that our creative sources have not been stifled.

Homepage photo from JW Anderson S/S 21 show.


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