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It’s a (New) Man’s World

Fashion News
A look from Ermenegildo Zegna's Fall Collection

By Jessica Michault

In the space of just a few days at the start of this year, three of the world’s top menswear brands—Brioni, Ermenegildo Zegna and Berluti—announced that their star designers would be leaving. (And just this month, Brioni’s recently appointed Justin O’Shea announced his departure from the brand.) As more and more big brands like Gucci and Burberry take a shine to the idea of showing both their womenswear and menswear collections together, the latter is being scrutinized like never before.

“Nobody used to say that they actually buy and enjoy clothes,” says Lanvin’s menswear designer, Lucas Ossendrijver, about the societal shift in the menswear market. Kris Van Assche, Dior Homme’s creative director, agrees: “Men are really obliged now to take care of themselves, because the visual package is taken into account on all levels of life.”

One designer who is going to be getting in on the menswear action and has adopted the “two for the price of one” fashion show premise is Stella McCartney. She just announced that she would be showing menswear for the first time in her upcoming womenswear show in November. And just like O’Shea, she will be giving the industry something to talk about as she announced that “the range will include fur-free and leather-free apparel and accessories,” just like in her womenswear collections. Menswear without leather? If McCartney can make those pieces work then the whole market might have to rethink its strategy.

As for Ermenegildo Zegna and Berluti, they went in polar-opposite directions with their new designer appointments, a move that further indicates just how broad the menswear fashion spectrum has become. Zegna welcomed back into the fold, like a prodigal son, Alessandro Sartori, who left the house—where he designed the Z Zegna collection for eight years—to launch the Berluti clothing line five years ago. Sartori is known to live and breathe fashion, having grown up watching his mother work as a dressmaker and run her own shop just steps away from his childhood home. And his father’s impeccable style honed his own menswear aesthetic, which tends towards clean silhouettes and fabric experimentation. “I love finding beautiful new solutions to menswear,” says Sartori about his process. “My father taught me to always find a creative solution.”

Meanwhile, at Berluti, Haider Ackermann signed on as the brand’s new creative director just last month. Ackermann is one of the fashion industry’s most beloved designers and has found success with his own soigné menswear collection filled with lush fabrics in jewel-tone hues. He too loves to include female designs into his menswear shows, as a way to underline the sensual versatility of his dandy rocker low-slung pants, chic dinner jackets and fitted silk vests.

 

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