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Men’s Fashion Week: Après-Ski, Gorpcore and Varsity Prep Rage On

If designers participated in any of the men’s European fashion weeks last month, there’s a high chance that their Fall/Winter 22-23 collection fell into one of three buckets: après-ski, gorpcore or varsity prep.

The novel themes added color, pattern and technical aspects to seasonal mainstays like knits and outerwear, helping men’s fashion (and dual gender collections) break away from pandemic basics.

Retro ’80s ski designs sprang up several seasons ago, but the F/W 22-23 après-ski trend screams of old money with styles conjuring up Swiss Alps holidays in upscale resort towns like Saint Moritz and Gstaad.

Etro nailed the look with knitwear featuring wolves and snowflakes—some decorated with tassels—and Fair Isle sashes. Cozy corduroy bottoms and duffle coats were contrasted with embossed wool overcoats and richly embroidered robe coats bearing a princely vibe.

Rhude zeroed in on the theme by applying Fair Isle motifs to matching sets. Texturized turtleneck knits and icy shades of blue delivered a subtle nod to the slopes in Hermes’ collection. Sacai layered gray blue puffer vests on Fair Isle cardigans, and Tod’s paired shearling jackets—a F/W 22-23 must-have—with relaxed blue jeans and neutral ski sweaters.

Hints of nostalgia were seen in collections as well. Missoni’s zip-up knits popped with colorful landscape designs, while Vuarnet reinvented the ski suit as a chic statement piece, complete with flare bottoms.

Though gorpcore topped trend forecasting firms’ lists of trends to know prior to the pandemic, consumers’ survivalist mood and interest in outdoor activities give the theme new relevance.

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Taking direct cues from the outdoor apparel category’s functional, practical approach to design, White Mountaineering centered on fire-resistant nylon outerwear and multi-purpose fishing vests.

Nylon bombers in military green, and others with contrasting matte and glossy surfaces, were a key part of Mihara Yasuhiro’s collection. Justin Gall kept it muted with tonal colors. Balaclavas and ribbed knits with thumb holes keyed into current trends, while exaggerated elements like the fullness of zip-off puffer pants introduced new shapes. Lemaire’s upscale take on gorpcore resulted in loose co-ed trench coats, quilted vests, shackets and leather bombers.

K-Way dove deep into its archives from the ’90s, serving glossy nylon puffer coats with extra-long sleeves, cropped silhouettes and argyle motifs. Coordinating mini-skirts and hot pants editorialized the pieces, but the French brand’s long rain ponchos, belted quilted coats and head-to-toe layered knit outfits hit closer to the outdoor trend.

Nods to military and hunting permeated collections, but designers also found ways to added a lively streetwear element to gorpcore concepts.

Rains offered a wide range of outerwear and bottoms in weatherproof fabrications. The brand’s nylon puffer snoods in bubblegum pink and electric yellow, however, injected a jolt of color to the otherwise neutral line. Isabel Marant added a playful vibe to the practical theme with color-blocked coats and layered camouflage looks, and Marcelo Burlon Country of Milan introduced all-over dark floral prints to hooded puffer coats, trousers and backpacks.

The theme also tees up opportunities in accessories. K-Way showed knit beanies and long scarves. Lemaire presented water bottle carriers and sleek sling bags, while Mihara Yasuhiro piled canvas bags onto models.

Gorpcore elements like plaid and quilting filtered into the burgeoning varsity prep trend, which Edited named a key streetwear theme for 2022.

Kenzo navigated the trend with a co-ed collection full of casual suiting and separates done up in collegiate stripes, mixed plaids and dark denim. Details like neck ties, coat pockets with crests, berets and monogramed knits underscored the Ivy League aesthetic.

Opening Ceremony’s use of autumnal plaids and pieces decorated with varsity letters veered toward a prep school look, while Doublet’s plaid mini-skirts riffed on the dress code-breaking style of “Euphoria” and its trend-setting cast of characters.

The letterman jackets, however, remain the trend’s showpiece.

In Virgil Abloh’s final collection for Louis Vuitton, a bright purple jacket was a canvas for cherubs and the fashion house’s iconic initials. Kenzo also took a colorful approach with logos and “1970” appliques—a nod to the year the brand was established. For Philipp Plein, the preppy jacket presented an opportunity to feature “Lil Monsters,” the brand’s new avatar-like characters.

Other designers chose a more timeless look. Facetasm opted for a black wool and leather combination for its varsity jacket, while Missoni references its signature zigzags by stitching chevron patterns onto a jacket’s padded arms.