Tailoring is proving to be the biggest story in men’s fashion since its demise.
Just as fast as traditional apparel brands adopted a streetwear aesthetic and fashion publications hired streetwear editors, the category that overtook men’s wear and luxury for several seasons now shows signs that its heyday is coming to a close. With nary a full-fledged sportswear or streetwear collection on the Fall/Winter 20-21 men’s runway—even from streetwear aficionados like Virgil Abloh and Kim Jones—the male consumer is getting a “re-education” in tailoring, WGSN Trend Feed editor Polly Walters said.
And as a result, retailers need to tweak their Fall/Winter 20-21 buys to reflect this fashion evolution. At Project New York on Sunday, Walters shared the trend firm’s Fall/Winter 20-21 Buyer’s Guide for men’s wear, revealing a season full of versatility, creative upcycling and a strong nod to the ’70s.
The biggest story in men’s fashion, Walters said, is how it is “smartening up.”
Improvements in “comfort tailoring” are driving this new direction as performance-enhanced fabrics with waterproof, wrinkle-resistant and stain-resistant properties are being woven into collections as “well-designed” blazers and commuter trousers. The key, she said, is for brands to think about how their consumer is going to wear these items and then optimize them for everyday wear.
Lightweight, trans-seasonal and packable outerwear features among the big-picture ideas influencing outerwear trends. Technical parkas are key for commuters, with bold color and stitching adding a fashion element to the practical pieces. Parkas also present an opportunity for brands that do not typically play in the performance arena to give collaborations a try.
Meanwhile, plush fabrications add richness to men’s outerwear. The best way to execute these cozy looks, Walters noted, is with familiar silhouettes like duffle coats and with recycled wool and polyester wherever possible.
And the return of tailoring is shining a spotlight on handsome top coats. The jackets punctuate proper tailored looks, while adding a youthful zeal to sporty weekend looks. However, Walters noted that heritage check versions may be in their last season.
The versatile over-shirt is a key item for both conservative and experimental dressers, Walters said. Plaid, woolen grays or workwear-inspired twills give this third-layer option a sturdy and traditional look. However, the garment is a prime canvas for patterns and bright colors.
The camping fleece, Walters said, is breaking down the boundaries between outdoor and fashion. Look for pieces in neutral colorways like beige and gray for traditional markets, but amp up the garment’s fun factory with paisley prints or camouflage for youth markets, she added.
Rugby shirts for the new season are a cross-reference of ’80s casual wear and ’90s hip-hop, Walters said. Primary colors update the classic silhouettes. Similarly, polo shirts take on a more spirited look for F/W 20-21 with color and graphics. Both items tap into the new story that Walters describes as “Dormcore,” a laidback collegiate take on traditional prep rooted in bright red and sky blue.
Paneled button-down shirts and T-shirts are also trending—for both fashion and sustainable statements. Walters urged brands to consider sourcing or using their own deadstock fabrics to create the spliced tops. The trend plays into the ongoing patchwork look, while sending consumers a clear brand message about sustainability.
“Corduroy has reached critical mass,” Walters said. However, the classic fabric feels new, thanks to an experimental approach to color. Deep navy, tan and amber enhance the fabric’s velvety hand feel. Wide-leg, slouchy-fit corduroy pants are key for the season, as well as the corduroy blazer.
The retro lapel blazer is also on the upswing. The relaxed-fit jacket is a “timeless and classic” way to update a wardrobe, Walters said, especially styles that use contrast fabric for the lapels.
Florals typically seen on home furnishings—an element inspired by Gucci’s ornate approach to men’s wear—make their way to more relaxed items like bomber jackets, hoodies and field jackets. Walters described the fabrics, which resemble the florals you might see in your grandparents’ home, as ideal for party season.
A major street style trend in Asia, Walters said bandanna and paisley prints are poised to pick up traction in the U.S. market this fall. The prints are especially complementary to the men’s denim market.
“Camouflage is universally understood in the men’s market,” Walters said. Ombre and tie-dye effects update the incognito print.
And now that consumers accept animal print across fashion categories and products, Walters said to expect to see more abstract and unusual iterations of the motif. “Animal prints are only going to get bigger,” she said.