The SSENSE Fall/Winter 2017 Menswear Report
A Guide to the Future and Next Season’s Products
- Text: SSENSE
- Images/Photos Courtesy Of: SSENSE Buying Team
Imagine a dating world where people told the truth about themselves in their profiles. Age: 32. Occupation: mostly employed, but probably not for long. Interests: Grand Theft Auto, Snapchat filters I use but never upload, too much weed. What if you could find love by way of that most slippery of things: truth? As Raf Simons’ charts the coordinates of a new Calvin Klein, he places a simple color-blocked mesh top at its center. Quietly revealing everything, the body is on display with only the small checked mesh as a filter. A filterless version of you.
In the case Citizen’s United vs. FEC, the United States Supreme Court famously ruled that corporations should be treated as people in the context of campaign financing. The outpouring of corruption that followed was a main rallying cry for Bernie Sanders, whose presidential campaign logo made multiple appearances in this season’s Balenciaga collection. The idea of corporate personhood takes on a whole new dimension in a fashion context defined by logo-flipping and monogram-mania—one where constellations of (often tampered with) brand identities have become a form of human self-definition. It makes us wonder: maybe people will soon be corporations too.
Collaborations used to be breaking news. But now it’s an expected move for many of the most influential luxury brands. Outerwear giants, however, add a new element to the equation—bringing decades of engineering experience to the more right-brain milieu of high fashion. Junya Watanabe x North Face. Vetements x Canada Goose. Martine Rose x Napapijri. Off-White x Moncler. We normally think of collaborative environments as “engines” and “cauldrons,” but perhaps arctic chill is the new temperature setting for futuristic experiments.
A wise prophet, probably Kim K, once said: more is more, and it’s still not enough. Steeped in (hyper-)reality television, excess and multi-platform branding have become synonymous with truth. Abundance is construed with meaning, and info-overload is a given. Why not lean into it? Next season, designers have given themselves over to the Illuminati vibes of the rich and famous, making a pilgrimage to the altar of plenty. Intense insignia—flames, feathers, skulls, and doomsday iconography—are surfacing. It heralds a new world order where everyone with the right editing app and a penchant for the most may reign.
PLAINCLOTHES, NOT PLAIN CLOTHES
In Sidney Lumet’s iconic 1973 film Serpico, Al Pacino goes undercover against widespread corruption in the New York City Police Department. The removal of an official uniform, and the donning of a more casual aesthetic, offered him a new vantage. His story points to the paradoxical power that appearances have to deceive, but to also reveal truth. Those whose workwear indicates they uphold the law are in fact morally bankrupt, while the reimagining of daily dress might aid in the acquisition of an alternative perspective. For Fall/Winter 2017, we champion the civilian look.
THE MIRROR PHASE
At approximately six months, the infant wriggles up to the mirror and for the first time becomes aware of an exteriority. We are both subject and object. Lacan theorized that the mirror phase is the point from which every individual’s interest in fashion develops. The only way we can comprehend ourselves is through finding our likeness refracted back at us. Once we understand that we are going to be looked at, and that we will also have to look at ourselves, we get to work constructing a sartorial identity. Don’t you want to see yourself in every piece of clothing you own?
There is such a thing as being too discreet. Invisibility attracts nothing at best, and destruction’s full force at its worst. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Adorning yourself with bright and shiny objects does not render you a magpie-magnet—it makes you smart. Roam the streets in total darkness, rebel a little, and keep it sexy in a safe way. You are your own stoplight now.
When Eddie Bauer popularized the first down jacket, it was his response to a fishing trip turned near-death experience. Looking out for the warmth of future wearers, he designed the puffer merely for function. Today, however, down has become a hedonistic enterprise. To wear down is to take the embrace of a lush duvet with you everywhere you go. It’s no wonder its quilted puff was spotted on the red carpet at this year's Met Gala. Down is this season's pass to pleasure fulfillment.
Men’s suiting is always a gamble. Tailored perfectly, a suit lends its wearer an air of quiet refinement and authority. When the fit is off, though, the look lapses quickly into comedy. Terry Gilliam’s 1985 film Brazil follows a low-level government clerk attempting to navigate a bureaucratic dystopia. The film is ostensibly set in the future, but the costuming is pure anachronism. The protagonist, played by Jonathan Pryce, wears a dull, grey three-piece suit. Its jacket is several sizes too large for his frame, giving him the appearance of a turtle in a herringbone shell. The look is a perfect pairing for the bleak, tragicomic dystopia of the world depicted by the film. One wonders whether the resurgence of men’s suiting with exaggerated proportions represents this same joke retold.
When we think of fashion, we often think of urban life. Yet the boundaries of cities are more frayed than a well-tailored garment: the place where the suburbs end and something else begins is often impossible to define. Demographers use the word “exurban” to define these types of spaces. It is a term that has become much more relevant as gentrification has sent a wave of citizens towards the invisible borders of cities. How many stops from downtown do you have to be before you’re not in the city at all anymore? And if the metropolis is pushing us away, why not make it our ex? This season we embrace the fringes.
The millennial generation has come of age at a time so saturated by advertising that it has formulated its own mutant consumerist aesthetics. This has largely diverged into two distinct paths: the cheeky subversion of logomania and the unbranded placidity of minimalism. Now the real question is whether these two approaches will ever meet in the middle in a post-millennial synthesis.
The endless debate over whether subculture is alive or dead masks a more interesting discussion on what makes a garment useful—and therefore desirable. The uniforms we associate with subcultures emerge as much from functional needs as symbolic ones. As Demna Gvasalia himself told us: "The biggest innovation has to happen in terms of methodology, the processes by which you make a collection, and also in terms of what you make. I am interested in analyzing fashion at that level. [...] Of course, you want to give people goose bumps every six months by showing a new silhouette. But just as importantly, you want to question how and why you make things.”
On Thom Browne’s Spring 2018 Menswear runway, models strutted in ankle-length dresses, knee-length and midi skirts, and high-heeled oxfords. A brawny femininity is taking over menswear and we are here for it. The crown jewel of this long-overdue gender-bending takeover is also the easiest to try out: the man purse. No longer do you need to contract it sheepishly into “murse,” the man purse is a statement piece that says: “Hi, hello, I have things to carry too and a bulging back pocket is so déclassé.”
Dressing is a sort of cryptography. While subtlety might win you quantitative points, the qualitative gold star goes to those who can pull off the mascot. Benevolently simple lines and scarce aesthetic baggage, the mascot taps into a visual vernacular that has existed for decades. What’s more accessible than two eyes? Its omnipresence is something anybody can rally for, but few can implement tastefully. If you can’t be the tiger, wear one.
The clothes we wear are a form of wish fulfillment. We curate our closets with a low-key optimism that everyday things—work, coffee runs, never-ending Twitter feeds—will feel better if we look better. Traditionally, the peace sign has been the emblem of a pacifist hopefulness. The divvied up circle is synonymous with flowers braided into long, unwashed hair, and sun-bleached jeans ripped from sit-ins and park lounging in puffs of smoke. To see it on the runways for Fall/Winter is jarring: where does this optimism stem from? The resurfacing of the peace sign feels like an omen: a return to the origin of dressing as a kind of wishing. Keep those fingers crossed. Hold your breath. Hope is dyed in the wool.
Friendships have become a myriad of short-lived online connections. As our confidence in our DM-game grows and our meme-responses are total fire, we neglect the IRL part. Instead of opting for meditation (or medication) to handle your insides crippling from FOMO, try these vestimentary options. Their unusual details are bound to break the ice and loosen up any conversation once there is nothing left to say. Also: everyone will flock in your direction to utilize your garment’s attributes for their own small talk moments. Like moths to a flame. All you need to do is stand there.
Elevating the checked pattern of the original skater boy shoes, Lanvin is playing a long game. More than just stacked squares, it’s the difference between checkers and a game of chess. Anticipating its opponent’s next pattern design, mulling over possible cuts, strategizing future silhouettes—the brand is bringing the two-tone print to a more sophisticated milieu. Walking in their orange-and-black checked shoes is akin to stepping into a 4D chessboard. Your dog disguised as a pawn, your mom’s phone calls intentional distraction, your lover the side-eyeing Queen. Whether castling or en passant, you are both the player and the game.
THE DEEP STATE
The greatest power is often that which we cannot see. The deep state is cast as malevolent by consequence of its history, but the Trump administration is turning this concept on its head. “Villains” such as Sally Yates and James Comey, are now who Trumpers consider to be at the helm of the deep state. If that’s true, let the villains have the covert advantage that comes with operating beneath the surface. And while politics might be the best example of a deep state, the power of secrets lies in our underwear choices too. Subtlety is strength—a minute wardrobe parsing can mean the difference between ripples and tidal waves. Somewhere, John le Carré is recoiling in his Calvin205W39NYCs.
- Text: SSENSE
- Images/Photos Courtesy Of: SSENSE Buying Team