While womenswear may be having a sleek and androgynous moment, last week’s London Collections: Men proved that menswear has a unique character all unto itself, and an interesting one at that. Three years in, the event has grown from 46 showing designers in 2012 to 77 this year. And with that increased visibility has come a stronger prediction of where menswear is headed in 2016. So having said that, let’s waste no time. Here are the top 5 trends we saw at LCM.
1. The Bomber is Back
The bomber jacket was invited to more shows at LCM than any editor or celebrity. It was almost ubiquitous and shone prominently on the runways of Alexander McQueen, Christopher Raeburn and Christopher Kane, as well as on those of more experimental designers like Katie Eary, Astrid Anderson and Oliver Spencer. Its forms ran the full creative circle of interpretation, from loud prints to Chinoiserie jacquards, piped panels, suede and leather in bold colors and all the way back to traditional, neutral shades.
The Harrington jacket, similar to the bomber but with that signature collar, was popular too. This style, overtly retro at times (think aviation or Teddy Boy finishes), was ideal in more fashion-forward ranges. Its classic shape and collar however won’t curb its appeal to the older menswear shopper either. The style received Fall ’15 backing from the likes of Timo Weiland, Hérmes and Patrik Ervell. That alone should be enough to see it leading the pack come next spring.
Why it works: Despite its strong retail presence, this trend’s star is still rising: the number of bomber jackets arriving on the US and UK markets in Spring ’15 grew 128% compared to the year before. And its sales have stayed strong through early summer. Just last month, the bomber jacket sold well for a broad range of brands, including Cos, River Island and Rick Owens.
The bomber jacket grew its online presence 128% for Spring ’15. Big things still to come for this trend.
Bomber jackets sit at some imagined intersection of the 50s and 90s trends currently ruling the menswear industry. They have an ability to look contemporary yet retain some throwback nods. They’re able to fit into streetwear without being too ‘cool’, and because they’ve been successful across a variety of price points in previous seasons, the industry is now primed to see bombers in almost any collection. As for timing, data shows that January-March is the most popular time to drop new bomber styles into stores.
2. Sensible Steps
Now we said Spring ’16 trends were far from dull, so hear us out on this one: incredibly sensible sandals. These comfort-staples were seen on the new season runways of Margaret Howell, Berthold, Coach and Sean Suen. Think the most practical of holiday-dad footwear, sometimes worn with socks. Also included was the iconic pool slider, rendered a little more quirkily, in fur by Coach.
Commercially speaking, these should hit stores as Birkenstock-style shoes and flat-bed sandals. Men, expect to be embracing the ease of a velcro flat in no time!
Why it works: This style of sandal sold well in Spring ’15 for Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Nike, Lemaire and, of course, Birkenstock. In that season alone it grew its market presence by 85% compared to Spring ’14. But, reality check: we can’t pretend flat sandals are the leading men’s footwear trend. There are far more sneakers on the market, and that’s not going to change. But it’s important that retailers stock into this newer summer shape for Spring ’16. Add to that the knowledge that the flat sandal currently has lower discounting rates than sneakers, and you’re onto a winner early in its trend lifespan.
3. Print Sensations
Featured on the runways of Katie Eary, Coach, Sibling and James Long, bold prints were another strong presence. Psychedelic swirls, degradé and clashing colors made sure no one missed this trend foreshadowing a colourful Spring ’16. Prints danced their way across every type of garment, clashing on outerwear, working their way into allover use on tops, bottoms, and even featuring on footwear. Retailers needn’t be shy.
Why it works: The retail market is ready for more prints. Spring ’15 saw floral prints grow 111% while tropical prints did the same by 98%. Despite already being a menswear staple, retailers found room to grow stripes by 102%. This is a great sign that the menswear customer is looking for greater surface interest in apparel.
Stripes were also menswear’s most communicated print trend in Spring ’15, but April 2015 saw more floral prints arriving than stripes. With men ready to branch out into prints, retailers should stoke the flames of interest next spring by pushing their strongest prints in communications.
Examples of prints communicated by retailers for Spring ’15:
4. Jog On
Hot off the sofas: sweatpants. Designers including Burberry, Astrid Anderson and Christopher Raeburn presented them for Spring ’16. Burberry’s were muted caramel cashmere and worn with tasseled slippers, while Astrid Anderson’s high-shine and popper-sided take reigned at the other end of the spectrum. Thanks to additional backing from Christopher Shannon and Vivienne Westwood, Fall ’15 will steer this trend into the new year.
Why it works: Jogging bottoms and sweatpants saw a mammoth 160% increase in new products arriving in stores for Spring ’15. They sold well for McQ, Armani Jeans, Topman, ASOS and Forever 21 Men. Also interesting is that 42% of joggers currently in stock are in the luxury and premium markets – unusual for a loungewear basic and a certain sign their trend lifespan stretches well beyond Spring ’16. Currently, 44% of jogging bottoms on the market are black and 24% are grey. There’s also a small amount of maroon and khaki present. Retailers could expand upon this palette and introduce print to bring newness to Spring ’16.
5. The Unexpected
Many designers at LCM chose fabrics, prints, shapes and colors uncommon in menswear for the runway. Christopher Raeburn showed kilt-skirts, Astrid Anderson floral prints on sportswear and Alexander McQueen rows of flounces on knits. Burberry’s use of lace in shirts and creepy insect brooches can’t, and won’t, go unnoticed by the retail industry. Working out ways to make this palatable for the mass and premium markets may prove a challenge, but it will happen.
Why it works: The prevalence of new categories in menswear as seen in the last couple of seasons (see: kimono shape) (see also: blanket scarf) holds much promise for more varied offerings. Year-on-year menswear growth globally is 4.5%, compared to 3.7% for womenswear. We expect that to come through in color, detailing and fabric as retailers across every market segment get bolder and more experimental. Pink and lilacs alone grew their presence by 127% this Spring. Point being: there is room for a little play in every retailer’s menswear assortment.
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