Adaptability and flexibility are two valued qualities in men’s Fall/Winter 22-23 fashion, but it doesn’t mean designers are settling for complacency.
Rather, Noah Zagor, WGSN’s senior North American men’s wear strategist, said the category is in an age of “reinvention, reconfiguration and recontextualization” of familiar ideas, much like the way hip-hop artists sampled previously recorded music in the ’90s. “Where the freshness comes from is how do we assemble it, the references we’re pulling, how we can change it into something that feels new and exciting and the twist that we can put on it,” he said.
Informa Markets’ trend webinar last week presented in partnership with WGSN examined many of these “reinventions.” With Project Las Vegas around the corner (Feb.14-16 at the Las Vegas Convention Center), the session provided a look at the six themes buyers and retailers should anticipate for the new season.
Consumer drivers for the season continue to revolve around how the pandemic is changing their lifestyles. Work-life balance is still incredibly important as well as mental health awareness. In turn, Zagor said fashion reflects these concerns through sustainability, comfort and a sense of nostalgia.
Academia, an update to the varsity styling seen in streetwear and runway collections in 2021, is one of the throwback stories.
“What I love about this theme is there are so many elements that we’re familiar with over the years, whether it’s the ongoing interest in rugby shirts and varsity jackets—which are having a huge moment again—and corduroys, Oxford shirts, tweeds, and wool checks,” Zagor said.
Key items include the everyday cardigan, topcoats, the tipped polo shirt, corduroy trousers, monogrammed belt buckles, penny loafers and striped scarves. Crest motifs and team sports inspiration underscore the Ivy League reference while unexpected colors, recycled yarns and quilted insulation elevate the designs.
One thing to keep in mind in 2022 is the shift to looser silhouettes. “This isn’t about the skin-tight, slimmed-down prep of 2010,” he added. “This is about a new looser and relaxed take on it with a bit more of an urban feel.”
Work-Leisure concepts, a theme that was important before Covid-19, is now being “explored to its fullest depths,” Zagor said.
The F/W 22-23 theme is centered on combining classic silhouettes with casual pieces and adding elastic and comfort elements to pieces that normally would feel more polished, like relaxed blazers or formal track pants.
Belted suit jackets, coach jackets, tunic tops, quarter-zip top, relaxed cardigans, and slouchy suits make up this hybrid wardrobe. Accessories include briefcases, commuter bags and retro sneakers.
Soothing colors like jade, pink clay, digital violet, and unbleached cotton modernize the pieces, coming together in layered and color-blocked looks.
Soft, easy and wearable, WGSN’s third theme called Off-Line Luxe is a continuation of this idea. “We still want our off-duty clothing to be polished,” Zagor said.
Fabrics play a key role in this upgraded version of pandemic weekend wear. Soft wool and fleece textures, draped and slouchy silhouettes and sophisticated tonal color palettes create a minimalist look without being overly stuffy. “It doesn’t necessarily mean everything has to be cashmere from head to toe with an astronomical price tag,” he added.
Key items include the robe coat, paneled sweatshirt, hoodie, tapered trouser, soft scarf and textured baseball cap. Drawcords, anti-fit shapes and quilted highlight the comfort factor.
Prints and patterns are spotlighted in Soul-Craft, a theme that relied on casual wear with a homespun look. While many people “reconnected with the idea of craft during the pandemic,” Zagor pointed out that not everyone picked up the hobby or skills to apply the aesthetic to their own closets.
Soul-Craft fills that gap with ethically sourced staples updated with handmade graphics, patchwork, unique versions of plaids and global prints. Utility flannel shirts, vintage jeans and western shirts are the ideal canvases for these details.
Gorpcore maintains its place as a main influence in men’s fashion, but Zagor said the “exciting new element” is the combination of outdoor clothing with festival fare. Described as “outdoor maximalism,” WGSN’s Urban Outdoors theme skews toward younger demographics with psychedelic and futuristic details.
Key items include the fishtail parka, Sherpa jacket or pullover, cargo pant, utility vest and bucket hat. Here, modular pockets, sustainable or recycled textiles, and weather-resistant, antimicrobial fabrics are coupled with ’90s rave prints and all-over outdoor prints.
Farther from Earth, billionaire astronauts are inspiring a future-meets-retro theme for F/W 22-23. Space Race culls inspiration from ’60s futurism, defined by slick surfaces and minimal lines.
Items like the fine gauge crewneck, turtleneck, wide-leg trouser and technical suit are updated with fluid, soft and unexpected colors like iced aqua, oyster mushroom and peach whip. Design details like ombre, tonal blocking and fades allow designers to get creative.
“This is something that can translate to a mature market who’s looking for cleaner looks,” Zagor said. “But there are also ways to bring it into a more directional youthful market who’s looking for something cool and futuristic.”