A Guide to the Future and Next Season’s Products

The SSENSE Spring/Summer 2017 Menswear Report

  • Text: Emily Friedman and Mary Tramdack
  • Photography: SSENSE Buying Team


After decades of equating attractiveness with self-confidence, the rosy hue of a bashful blush has now developed its own allure. Ignoring the many perils of the world feels more headless than sexy. And as your skin pales while you ponder the imminent threat of climate change, or bae not texting back, perhaps a little pink could do you good. From posey to new-born piglet, blush is something we trust.


When there’s nothing left to create, destroy. As a cultural propaganda practice for the French Situationists, detournement gleaned a stigma of disruption. Yet, as Picasso maintained, “every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” And while he could be rationalizing the destructive nature of his synthetic cubism period, he has a point. A point that has pinned bleach splattered denims and hand painted flannels as garments to think twice about. Destruction is no longer about breaking things down, it’s about building them back up.


Introverts get a lot of flak—misunderstood, supposedly self-diagnosed through clickbait articles, worried about said diagnosis, and then the cycle repeats itself. Thom Browne's astute figuration of a social safeguard is literally a must for keeping you socially afloat. Your peers will keep their distance in reverence, and if anyone so much as chances to instigate a surface conversation about “how work is lately,” simply hold on tight with the faith you won't forever be drowning in pointless small talk. This is the new “conversation piece.”


Though it may be safe to assume that mediocrity is the modus operandi of most father-friendly apparel (think golf shirts and khakis), dad hats are the exception. While the messages emblazoned across them may be unassuming, actually wearing them is a kind of wish-fulfillment. Transcending parenthood at its core, you instil confidence, share wisdom, and establish traditions, all while laughing at your own subpar jokes. As Raf Simons' Fall/Winter 2014 collection disclosed to a heavier extent, the power of your influence is undeniable. Be the dad you wish to see in the world.


Relaxation is the ultimate form of indulgence in a society that burdens us with constant demands. Whatever your method of escape, be it going off grid, slaying it poolside, or a mindfulness practice, an off-hours uniform must prioritize comfort and ease. When what’s deemed socially acceptable attire is dependent on environment, the unhurried luxury of hard-chill footwear—like pool slides—may feel out of reach. But dare to wear them in spite of the occasion: dress code violations are the terrain of rebels.


For a garment that tends toward vibrance, the souvenir jacket has a fraught origin story. Blending Eastern and Western iconography, the silk bomber-style jackets were originally worn by American soldiers occupying Japan in the years following the Second World War. They were customized and considered keepsakes—hence ‘souvenir.’ Japanese teens would later wear them in defiance of this history of U.S. occupation. So, what does it mean to put Donald Duck on one? Maybe nothing—meaning is diffused over time. Signifying one country’s defeat and the other’s flaunting of its victory, the contemporary souvenir jacket holds fast to its original symbolic tension.


Is your fear of commitment so strong that you can’t even handle finished hems? Whether spurred by a DIY renaissance, an affinity for damage, or simply lack of a good tailor, the chopped and frayed edge stands as an ode to the unfinished. Those loose ends and raw edges suggest potential, whether it is coming apart or together. And there is strength in their looseness, too—with damage there from the start, we can get on with living.


The athleisure look that has spread across North America over the past few years is ostensibly about being ready to run, lift, or spin at a moment’s notice. It is all about lifestyle suggestion, implying the potential for exertion, and on the other side of the coin envisions luxury as a perpetual state of “cool-down.” Margiela’s sneakers call out the trend by dipping a running silhouette in paint, rendering the shoe impractical for actual exercise all while retaining its symbolic strength. They delay action indefinitely, slowing down the pace until you’re left in an aesthetic state of repose.


To wear camouflage as a civilian was once a bold gesture, but today, it is just another pattern. Just like plaid’s journey from warring clans in the Scottish highlands to your dad’s closet, camo is so widely worn today that it has lost all of its renegade appeal. There’s nothing rebellious about a print that is found everywhere, and going incognito is a cop out, so we need to look elsewhere for subversive energy. Try large, brash graphics and clashing colors that protest instead of defer.


PVC was an accidental discovery, the haphazard invention of a French chemist. Despite its inauspicious start, this synthetic fabric has proved lasting with an industrial production history generations long. It has shaken the lack of intentionality that marked its mistaken beginnings, and designers now reach for it to provoke and draw focus. A transparent garment is a contradiction in terms, pulled between coverage and exposure, accident and fate.


When visitors to Coney Island witnessed the unveiling of America’s first roller coaster, they gladly parted with a nickel for the chance to defy gravity. Propelled through space while sitting still, they knew for a moment what it was to fly. As our engineering capabilities grew more sophisticated, roller coasters evolved into breakneck behemoths of extreme leisure, instruments of an adrenaline-spiked sublime. With a flash of gold, the click of connection, and the cinch of cordura, Alyx has tapped into the iconography of the amusement park and with it, the sensation of escaping human limitations.
About Classics

The distinction between IRL and URL is outdated—“real life” happens online. We need clothes that reflect the disappearing divide between the digital and the physical. Just as architecture inspired Chanel and Schiaparelli, the tenets of Web 1.0 are fodder for a new generation of designers’ cheeky referentiality. Wear your search history across your heart and bring “user experience” back to basics—it is as easy as getting dressed in the morning.

  • Text: Emily Friedman and Mary Tramdack
  • Photography: SSENSE Buying Team