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Cult Culture, Utility and ’80s Excess Inform Men’s Spring/Summer 2020 Trends

The Spring/Summer 2020 season may be the first inkling that men want to dress like adults once again—or at least have the option.

With the new buying season is around the corner, Project teamed with Fashion Snoops to help inspire and guide buyers in their selections and assortments at the upcoming shows in New York (July 21-23) and Las Vegas (Aug. 12-14).

In a webinar, Michael Fisher, vice president and creative director, menswear for Fashion Snoops, shared four key menswear stories buyers can expected to see for Spring/Summer 2020 and the macro trends that are driving each. And many of the trends, Fisher noted, are already being validated by street style and confirmed at the latest round of men’s fashion week shows in New York, London, Paris and Milan.

“I am confident that you will see all four of these [trends] on the floor at all of the shows coming up,” he said.

Here’s a look at what’s to come.


Fashion is at a technological crossroads. From Puma teaming with MIT to develop insoles that measure athletic performance using bacteria from the wearer, to shoes that actually breathe, Fisher said there’s a surge of companies utilizing technology in new and interesting ways to offer “future solutions.” This focus on innovation is coupled with a renewed interest in ancient civilizations and a new wave of inventors and artists that Fisher likened to a modern-day Leonardo da Vinci or Indiana Jones character.

In Operandi, this translates into fashion that offers utility, front and center.

“It’s bold, it’s exaggerated and I think it’s a really great complement to this kind of modern day creative who really is appreciating the past and the future in very equal ways,” Fisher said.

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Influences from sci-fi and steampunk add a fantastical element, resulting in “rugged” and “time honored” ways to use uniforms for men, he added. Prints and graphics have an ancient artisanal influence, too. Topography, geometry and checks and plaids with a natural timeworn effect are mixed with tie-dyes. Meanwhile, refined surfaces, smart fabrics and tailored shapes with outdoor styling update the mood.

S/S 2020 Alyx
S/S 2020 Alyx Dominique Maitre/WWD/Shutterstock

The trend includes the utility parka with asymmetrically placed pockets and minimalist suits with stretch that can be packed or worn day-to-night. Here, Fisher urged directional buyers to consider convertible silhouettes. Linen-silk blend sweaters with rolled necklines, zip front camp shirts and minimal cargos in technical materials are key items.

“It’s not all about the pocket,” he said. “It is there but it’s definitely a more streamlined approach.”

For denim, Fisher named the excavator jean with inside-out or pieced construction, denim sport coats with “inky blue resin rinse,” double stone wash jeans and the engineer jacket as must-haves.

“Everyone’s been seeing the chore jacket start to emerge as a key item for the season,” he said. “This is another great way to do that in a really rugged fabric.”

Accessories span nerdy rounded glasses, to token necklaces and bracelets with antique finishes and fitted structured canvas cap. The look, Fisher said, comes together with sporty nylon sandals, canvas lo-top sneakers with gum rubber soles and bags like oversized paper totes with crinkled surfaces, mesh neck pouches and convertible backpacks. “Giving him items that can go for many different occasions is key,” Fisher noted.

Great City

The rise of Gucci is just one example of how the excess of the ’80s fits right into today’s pop culture. “There’s no doubt that there is a huge ’80s revival happening right now,” Fisher said. However, this type of decadence is rising during a time when young consumers desire authentic and unfiltered imagery. “It’s a backlash against all things fake and filtered or Instagram-worthy,” he added.

And cities are where this movement is being played out. After several seasons of “wholesome styling” inspired by suburbia, Fisher said men’s fashion is moved by the energy of cities. In Great City, Fashion Snoops aims to identify what’s aspirational to men in 2020 and what will allow the consumer to be “expressive in his skin” in a city full of experiences and excitement, Fisher explained.

This consumer, he added, has “maximum urbane energy” and is exploring downtown art galleries and enjoying nightlife. Therefore, he also has to look good. Old school Armani serves as a source of inspiration for the type tailoring that Fisher sees coming back into style. Key items include classic cotton gabardine trench coats with an iridescent finish and the “club suit,” a modern take on the power suit with higher button stance and higher waist and fun fashion prints and colors.

S/S 2020 Giorgio Armani
S/S 2020 Giorgio Armani Davide Maestri/WWD/Shutterstock

And dress pants in traditional menswear patterns become baggier, Fisher said, with details like paper bag waists and asymmetric waist details for the younger market.

“I know it’s taken many, many years to get your customers over to a slimmer suit, and that’s fine,” he said. “That’s not going anywhere, but if you’re a retailer that focuses on a younger guy, he’s definitely looking for a pant that is a little looser and more fun in its fit.”

Bold looks are in store for denim. Moto/trucker jacket hybrids are overdyed and finished with an acid wash effect, Fisher described. Dispersed bleaching is used as an alternative to tie-dye for jean jackets. Pleated jeans with patch pockets offer volume, while acid wash jeans give nostalgic vibes, especially on slight boot cut fits or jeans with a fold-over waistband.

Accessories are essential for adding luxury touches to this trend story. Loafers are adorned with metal bands, sneaker boots are elevated with exotic-inspired skins and Chelsea boots are refreshed with aggressive square toes. And while neckwear has slowed, Fisher said he sees interest in bold polka dot ties once again, or “something that you would see in American Psycho.”


The growing awareness around mental health and the benefits that come from disconnecting are forming a new consumer that is unafraid of experiencing a case of JOMO, or the joy of missing out. The result is a trend story, called Pure, that favors stripped down summer separates and natural materials that recall simpler times. Specifically, Fisher said Fashion Snoops was inspired by the film, Call Me by Your Name. “We really wanted to focus on the fun of summer,” he said. “The youth, the flirting, the long hazy days—all of that really is meant to inspire this trend.”

Pure calls for new layers of summer weight fabrics and breezy classics with sun-bleached effects. The goal, Fisher added, was the offer classics in an easy-going and relaxed way. Whimsical prints like flowers and fruits have a painterly effect. Awning and nautical stripes have a watery appearance. And museum-worthy graphics like statues add a stately vibe.

S/S 2020 Paul Smith
S/S 2020 Paul Smith PIXELFORMULA/SIPA/Shutterstock

Key items include the linen bomber jacket, which Fisher reported has become a sports coat alternative, and suits inspired by Italian summer holiday suit made with a cotton/linen blend.

“It used to be that linen was really reserved for the ultra-traditional market and now we’re starting to see younger guys embrace it because they’re realizing that it’s so versatile,” he said. Openwork sweaters for the beach, pleated tourister shorts and polos—updated with a Johnny collar—complete the vacation look.
For denim, Fisher said keep it simple with relaxed ’80s-inspired fisherman jeans, cropped jeans and tailored trucker jackets. The perfect denim shirt—a pocket-less, no embellishment button-down—is key.

Fashion-wise, espadrilles are an obvious go-to styles for Pure. However, Fisher said the shoe style is also performing well at retail with both solid and patterned uppers. Other trending accessories include a weekender with all-over patterns, neckerchiefs, braided or crochet belts and sunglasses with soft pink lenses.


At this point, Fisher said the cannabis conversation is “old-school.” Now, he said Fashion Snoops is noticing more people talk about psychedelics.

“If you google ‘mainstream psychedelics,’ you’re going to find a slew of articles from the last few weeks alone,” he said. “It’s a continuation of self-exploration.” Cult culture depicted in pop culture, Fisher added, is informing new summer uniforms—a look that he likened to “guru styling.”

These extreme influences are expressed in Psychotropic, a men’s trend story based on “hyper surreal summer energy” and a fictional character who leaves middle America to take a psychedelic journey to Hawaii, where he joins an eco-commune, Fisher described. The trend combines vacation-ready classics with the weirdness of ’60s surf tribes, he added, with bursting colors and prints of “trippy” nature-scapes.

Key items include the rainbow windbreakers with curvy color blocking, mismatched suiting separates and tie-dye sweaters—or anything with tie-dye for that matter. Fisher said the effect is performing extremely well at retail. Meanwhile, matching resort sets in fun prints attract a younger consumer and polo shirts take on a cycling look.

S/S 2020 MSGM
S/S 2020 MSGM WWD/Shutterstock

In Psychotropic, denim is driven by dye effects. Dark wash, below-the-knee jean shorts are splashed with bleach splotches. Tie-dye trucker jackets are bleached, too, as an alternative to tie-dye. And for the most fashion forward consumer, Fisher urged retailers to try neon jeans. The bold styles look best with neutrals and tonal stitching.

Accessories are just as eccentric. Vans-style slip-on sneakers are updated with clashing colors and patterns. Sandals are colorful and sporty, while sneaker boots are refreshed with iridescent mesh. The belt bag remains important, but for the consumer that have moved on from the trend, Fisher suggested the body hardness bag.

“We’ve seen it all over the most important runways,” he said.