By: Simon Oats
#1 Super sportswear
My last column waxed lyrical about making fitness a style statement, and drawing from the abundance of sportswear-influenced designs out there. And as the lines between fashion and sportswear become blurred, the spring 2015 collections see further development of classic menswear reinvented in technical fabrics.
On the catwalk, Neil Barrett – who cut his teeth at Prada and Gucci, no less – is leading the way in sportswear-influenced menswear with tasteful monochrome designs and luxury fabrics.
This is a trend that most of the high street has picked up, most notably H&M collaborating with young US designer Alexander Wang (and selling out in seconds); and even well established retailers like Reiss in the UK are getting in on the act, but at the more affordable end of the spectrum while still using premium materials. Check out their leather-collared nylon bomber jacket in bright youthful colours.
For the best results, I recommend you mix and match; so, go technical on the top half, and wear with chinos or denim – otherwise you’re going to look like an extra from Star Trek.
#2 Cool Kanye
His missus may have broken the internet in 2014 with her heavily oiled behind, but Mr Kardashian seems to have single-handedly hijacked every magazine, fashion show and fashion blog in 2015. So it’s no surprise his collaboration with Adidas and the resulting “Yeezy” footwear and accompanying clothing range is the hot ticket for 2015 – the re-sell value of the shoes alone is set to eclipse the already hefty price tag of $350.
So, is Kanye fashion’s latest idiot savant, or is he just an idiot? I’ll let you decide, but if you want to see what real designers can do with sportswear, head to Y-3, Adidas’s other long term collaboration, this one with Japan’s Yohji Yammamoto, who is most definitely back with a vengeance and riding the crest of the sport-luxe wave. Which nicely segues into…
#3 Denim days
Denim is a fashion perennial. It’s the fabric that built America, and it’s been the fabric of choice for teen-angst since the 50s. And while clothing is generally getting “cleaner”, denim is getting dirtier – more influenced by vintage washes. For the first time in a long time, wider legs are back on the catwalk after the dominance of skinny and slim styles, and brands like Burberry, renowned for their tailoring and trench coats, are sending denim jackets and jeans down the catwalk.
Not since the days of Billy Ray Cyrus has “double denim” been more popular. Not so long back, it was seen as the ultimate fashion faux pas, but for SS2015 the fashion rulebook gets torn up as avant-garde designers such as Commes des Garcon and denim stalwarts Levi’s create layered denim looks that combine different weights and washes so you don’t look like you’re wearing a denim uniform. Remember when Justin Timberlake and Britney turned up to the MTV awards in matching denim? The exact opposite of that.
Oh, and under no circumstances are boot-cut jeans permissible, unless you own a ranch…
#4 Marine man
Another trend that never seems to go away in summer is the nautical stripe. How adventurous you are and how you wear it is up to you, as designers always revert to this dependable, timeless look in summer. You can go for the classic French Breton stripe from brands like APC and Saint James; or mix it up and be brave with matching vertical striped trousers and jacket from Gucci; or a subtle striped blouson jacket from Giorgio Armani. British design god Paul Smith has stripes with his usual eccentric twist – using gold and purple rather than the traditional navy and white.
If your wallet can’t quite manage the investment, head to Zara or Cos, both of whom always feature modernist versions of crisp nautical stripes with a catwalk influence as part of their spring offerings.
#5 Sneaker chic
Sneaker, kicks, trainers: call them what you will, but they are firmly on the style radar for spring. Much discussed last issue was the luxury sneaker so I’ll just point you to the previous column for that.
However, more authentic sports brands have got in on the action and brands like Adidas and Nike, both with extensive back catalogues of classic silhouettes, are re-issuing these in their original forms and in updated materials and colours.
For its 45th anniversary, Adidas has re-released one of my all-time favourites, the Superstar. Readers of a certain age will come over misty-eyed at the very mention; younger readers should google “Run DMC 1986” for details!
You can pick up an original colourway from most decent footwear retailers, but those who are more adventurous and with deeper pockets can head to oki-ni.com or footpatrol.co.uk, where you can find camouflage and snakeskin versions in limited numbers; wear them with sharp tailoring to subvert the traditional suit (on the days when your boss is on vacation).
This month’s column may seem a bit Adidas-heavy, but after many years of watching Nike dictate youthful sports fashion, they are most definitely back with some big-hitters. So my advice for spring is this: ditch the swoosh, embrace the stripe.
Until next time.