It's officially round two of New York Fashion Week: Men's, and it's a crucial one. After kicking off the inaugural men's only week back in July of last year, reviews were mixed. Fans and enthusiasts were pleased as pie to finally have their own week in which their favorite designers weren't overshadowed by womenswear. But the critics were turned off by the absence of the industry's biggest stars and the overabundance of up and coming talent. So F/W 16 season, all eyes are on you. And so far, it looks to be another instance of jumbled opinions.
New York Men's Day
New York Men's Day is a lively, jam-packed event that kicks off the week (actually just four days) with a smorgasboard of presentations. This year's event took place at Industria Superstudios in the Meatpacking District, and judging by the who's who of menswear bloggers in attendance, it was definitely a must-see event. Six designers presented in a 90-minute block in the morning while another six did the same in the evening. Here's the inside scoop:
As a resounding answer to the #Oscarssowhite controversy, David Hart's presentation featured only models of color. In an ode to the jazz-playing, stylish men of the mod 60s, the models were dispersed throughout the room in trios with some playing faux instruments while others lounged and gabbed with the other models. It was like wandering through a classic movie set in the Harlem of yesteryear. It was also a striking statement of diverse, masculine beauty at a time when our country really needs to see it. This was by far the most original display and most expertly designed clothing. The slim pants, white socks, exposed ankles, short jackets, and muted colors all accurately evoked the 60s era. Why David Hart is voluntarily sharing the spotlight with other designers instead of doing his own thing is beyond me. He was included in the most recent round of GQ's Best New Menswear Designers and designed a super stylish capsule collection for Gap. Regardless, it's exciting to see one of the current best menswear designers at the top of his game.
This presentation was seemingly set in a mystical garden with leaves that could be mistaken for marijuana if you squinted hard enough as well as moody live music that you'd probably only listen to if you were on an acid trip. The models' eyes were smeared with red makeup and tear-like sparkles to either evoke emotional pain or a serious high. Either way, I hope those fake tears were ones of joy because CWST killed it. This collection brought on the Cali vibes from a decade when style was really alive there-not the the tech startup, creative casual bullshit that's happening now. Ethnic prints, wool, unconventional color combos, and drapey silhouettes brought to life a modern-day punk aesthetic that could live just as comfortably in high fashion.
Kramer N Stoudt
Kramer N Stoudt's collection seemed to be equally inspired by the kooky character world of Johnny Depp and the quirky, anti-alpha male masculinity of a Wes Anderson film. The looks were lightly layered, buttoned up, and conservative but still cool with some winking nods back to a different era of well-dressed men.
Max N Chester
Arguably, the most interesting part of this presentation was the back row of ladies decked out in menswear. A little shifting or rotation of the models would have helped in seeing all of the looks. This was men's dress with no fuss-neutrals only with occasional pops of blue, minimal accessories, and relaxed fits. It was actually quite bland despite the feverish crowd surrounding the cluster of models. The only real standout was a black and white pinstripe suit that simultaneously updated and paid homage to classic suiting.
This was an exhaustive exercise in layering and styling. Things were so covered up and hanging off so loosely, it was hard to catch a glimpse of each piece. There was a remarkable color blocked coat in shades of khaki and olive and a gargantuan striped scarf that stood out. There were also these super chic white boots that reminded me of a 90s era Hype Williams video. But aside from some thrilling lighting and new styling ideas, I didn't walk away inspired.
It was refreshing to see a designer challenge the industry standard of skinny or slim pants. Every trouser leg was wide with extra extra break. The coats were oversized. It sent a message that men shouldn't care about silhouette. There was striking outerwear that mixed patterns and colors. In particular, there was a marled coat with solid black lapels that really stood out. This presentation was a disruptor in a sea filled with mostly streetwear and blandness.
This was the only presentation of the day that attempted to combine the presentation style with a mini-runway show. It was an exercise in the bizarre and peculiar-the feel of an avant garde photoshoot mixed with the sound of a rave. Sweaters were tucked in, pants were severely cuffed, midriff tops were layered over polyester shirting, and both white boots and neon-colored gloves served as accessories. If any of the other presentations put you to sleep, this was the one to wake you up out of your sartorial slumber.
This was a heavy tribute to the military style of the 1920s. It bordered slightly on parody but was saved by its chic, expert tailoring. It was a sort of peek into the Great Gatsby era from a working class point of view.
Some dapper shit, to say the least. While I saw this aesthetic executed more tightly at SuitSupply (which you'll read below), there were some touches of cool like mid-height Chelsea boots, statement outerwear, and formal hats that made it worthwhile.
The most color I'd seen all damn day. Psychedelic vibes and relaxed masculinity ruled. The stage was alive with prog rock-inspired prints and hues. The men were in plaid skirts, LOTS of stripes, and oversized chains. While this doesn't easily translate to reality, the play on masculine archetypes was exciting to see.
During the Matiere presentation, I found myself wishing for some more over the top, aggressive styling like what I'd seen (and criticized) earlier. The pieces were nice enough, but there was nothing here I hadn't seen before. The collection actually veered more into Urban Outfitters territory vs. the high end luxury I was in search of.
Two different vibes were at odds here. The presentation was soundtracked by a live jazz band while the clothing offered a classed up punk/grunge aesthetic. In step with some other looks seen throughout the day, it was safe to say that the 90s alternative scene was back in a luxurious way. However, the scene was so relaxed at times that the fashion revelers seemed more interested in the free drinks and just other shit in general. A model was even texting at one point while photogs were snapping away. Despite the cool points for the jazz band and the nods to that misguided fashion decade, I agree with the model. This was a bit of a snooze.
I also had the chance to check out some other presentations during the day.
SuitSupply is proof that if you're going to stick to one thing, you have to do it this well. Held on the 5th floor of the same building that houses its Soho flagship, the presentation was all about the dapper dude. Whether it's work, play, or an evening on the town, there's no reason not to look dapper. Nothing groundbreaking here-just well-made suiting at its best. And it looks damn good. It was one brand's lesson in how to be a gentleman (which apparently can't be done without facial hair-see the pics). And extra cool points for the old-timey elevator that took us up to the presentation.
Concept Korea took me into the world of two Korean menswear designers. First up was DBYD by Dong-jun Kang. The vibe brought to mind Onyx and Naughty by Nature-all the 90s hip hop feels. The looks were inspired by 90s silhouettes-oversized and baggy but in an elegant way. I was expecting at least one model to come out in Timbs.
The second offering was Ordinary People by Hyeong-cheol Jang. It was all abut the lost era of 70s rock stars a la Elton John at his prime. Silky shirting, wide leg pants, statement wool and shearling outerwear. Like Lucio Castro, it might be hard to pull this off in real life but it's cool as hell to look at.
The official New York Fashion Week: Men's kickoff party doubled as the 30th anniversary celebration of Dockers. In a week that should be dedicated to high fashion, I found Dockers as an odd choice to kick off the week. But perhaps this is a sign of things to come in the merging of the mid-market and luxury fashion worlds. The space was an open reminder of how long Dockers has been around with supersized 80s, 90s, and 00s positioned throughout. Some notable bloggers like Anthony Urbano of Oh Antonio and Justin Livingston of Scout Sixteen were on hand to celebrate. And I'm 97% sure I saw Fern Mallis. Or maybe it was just a really strong doppelganger. Aside from this, good indie tunes, passed hors d'oeuvres and champagne, and an open bar helped ring in the start of what hopefully continues to be a New York tradition for many seasons to come.
There's more to come as I dive in to analyze the Day 2 shows and beyond. Like what you see or have a different opinion? Sound off in the comments below and let me know what you think! I'll be back tomorrow with more!