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New York catwalks reveal top themes in menswear

  • Los Angeles Times
  • Published Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, at 12:19 a.m.

— If there was one conclusion to take away from the menswear collections shown here during the fashion week that ended recently, it’s that guys have a lot to get excited about when it comes to taking their fall-winter wardrobes up a couple of notches. Following are five of the things that will have men looking forward to fall.

The rise of cashmere

British Columbia-based designer Raif Adelberg made his New York Fashion Week runway debut with a lounge-about-the-yurt collection of cashmere sweaters of every stripe (including a cashmere cardigan with felted cashmere elbow patches), herringbone double-breasted peacoat, plaid blazers, drop-crotch trousers and sweat pants in piercing blue, hand and leg wraps and more.

Billy Reid’s men’s and women’s collections were both shot through with cashmere, the super-soft material providing a textural counterpoint to leather pieces that had been fermentation-treated to crackling, aged roughness. In addition to cotton/cashmere waistcoats and T-shirts printed with tree-ring-inspired stripes, cashmere came down the catwalk in the form of a three-piece suit, a knit necktie, tailored evening coats and a shawl-collar tuxedo jacket and trousers.

Formalwear goes casual

From the digital camouflage tuxedo at Mark McNairy New Amsterdam (perfect for next hunting season’s black-tie game supper) to the midnight blue tuxedo in suede cotton in Todd Snyder’s Rebel Gentlemen collection, there were all kinds of options for the guy who wants a less-stuffy take on the traditional formalwear silhouette.

But it was Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers that offered the ne plus ultra of feel-good formalwear: a black-tie ensemble that included a ribbed-knit shawl-collar dinner jacket. Sure it resembled a cardigan sweater – but one that would make Mr. Rogers look like Hugh Hefner.

Houndstooth with bite

Houndstooth is turning out to be a trend with some serious legs this season. First in evidence at the Milan and Paris men’s ready-to-wear shows last month (at Calvin Klein, Paul Smith and Versace, to name just a few), it showed up on this side of the Atlantic during fashion week as well. Tommy Hilfiger used the distinctive black-and-white pattern as the unifying graphic element – in a range of sizes and colors – for both his men’s and women’s fall-winter collections.

But the freshest take on the trend came from Asher Levine, whose collection riffed on and reinterpreted houndstooth using a micro-scale version on ultra-cool, effortless rocker tuxedos, trousers and lounge pants, and a textured three-dimensional monochrome variation on sweat shirts and pants.

Cool collaborations

Tommy Hilfiger’s men’s runway show included a partnership with Southern California-based luxury shoe designer George Esquivel that resulted in distinctively color-blocked brogues – think rich red leather uppers with houndstooth soles – that played off the houndstooth-heavy collection. Whether the shoes will make it from the runway to the cash register this fall remains unclear (an Esquivel rep would only say the Hilfiger/Esquivel runway shoes are part of an “ongoing relationship”). But based on what came down the catwalk, it’s a partnership that holds promise.

Billy Reid used his runway show to introduce a new collaboration with Coach. The result was a limited-edition line of rustic but refined totes, satchels and weekend bags in sturdy canvas or croc-pattern stamped leather.

New logo to love

Few polo shirt logos have the lasting resonance of Lacoste’s alligator, but men of a certain age will remember one that came close: Boast’s embroidered pot-leaf-like logo (the company says it’s a Japanese maple leaf), which launched in 1973 with polo shirts and shorts for the East Coast tennis set. Now Boast has been revived with a team that includes Andy Spade (co-founder of the Kate Spade and Jack Spade brands) as creative consultant and investor.

The collection that was presented at the august Harvard Club during fashion week was all about an Ivy League aesthetic grounded in navy blue and muted red with bright accent pops of blue and yellow in a range of rugbys, polos and blazers with gold logo buttons and bright yellow elbow patches. Varsity jackets boasted a bold yellow “B,” and there were mixed fabrication pieces with knit sleeves made from repurposed hockey socks.

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