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As US Covid Restrictions Lower, Men’s Fashion Levels Up

The time has come: After more than a year of uncertainty, communities are returning to their pre-pandemic notions of normal. New York and California—two of the first states to issue lockdown orders at the beginning of the pandemic—just lifted most of their Covid-19 restrictions and marked the occasion with celebrations honoring essential workers.

Fashion is following suit, with many trading in their sweats and loungewear for more extravagant occasion wear. And while the focus has mostly been on women’s apparel and its shift to bold colors and sexy denim, men are seemingly making the leap as well. Product intelligence company Trendalytics’ June 2021 Top Trends report showcases the “new” look for men that’s actually not so new at all.

Tailored apparel and casual suiting, which have seen 86 percent and 71 percent increases in searches since last year, respectively, were some of the top trends projected for Fall/Winter 20-21 before the pandemic derailed the fashion calendar. In January 2020, the tailored look was expected to be so big that it was actually recommended that retailers revisit their collections to accommodate. WGSN suggested brands consider how their consumers would wear the items and then optimize them for everyday use—an ironic statement, considering how consumers’ everyday apparel was about to drastically change.

With communities “back to normal,” fashion is revisiting improvements in comfort tailoring and taking into account the performance-enhanced fabrics with waterproof, wrinkle-resistant and stain-resistant properties that were growing in popularity early last year—and they’re kicking it up a (sustainable) notch. In January, German textile chemical company Rudolf Group set an industry first by achieving Durable Water Repellent (DWR) performance through existing natural elements like plant-derived processing wastes. This type of sustainable, waterproof tech opens opportunities for tailored apparel that does more.

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Searches for “men’s lounge suit” and their more formal counterparts, “3-piece suits,” are up 124 percent and 50 percent, respectively, Trendalytics reported.

To complete the look, men are searching for more formal accessories like neckties (up 226 percent since last year), sapphire cufflinks (up 63 percent) and formal shoes (up 83 percent), and the trend is expected to continue growing over the next year with 65-70 percent confidence.

Though many would likely prefer to leave memories of 2020 in the past, Covid fashion won’t be completely left behind. Comfort and stretch have a hold on the industry, and while denim joggers are seemingly out (searches are down 57 percent), closet staples like stretch chinos and graphic hoodies are up 21 percent and 64 percent, respectively.

Levi’s anticipated the return of the chino and expanded its collection with cargo, cropped, and loose-fitting styles of the tailored pant last fall.

Product intelligence company Trendalytics’ June 2021 Top Trends report points to a more tailored look for men.
Levi’s XX chino Courtesy

The products that perhaps best reflect the new attitudes toward occasion wear are the non-iron dress shirt and the wrinkle-free pant, which address both the love of dressing up and the pain of ironing. Searches for non-iron dress shirts and wrinkle-free pants are up 86 percent and 84 percent since last year.

Men’s denim trends are continuing to mirror those of women, with looser fits making a big splash in new collections. Searches for men’s straight leg jeans are up 69 percent, as reflected by brands like Guess and Filson, which have recently featured looser styles in their collections.

Also mirroring women’s denim, patchwork is gaining traction in the men’s market. As pandemic-inspired DIY denim trend spills into 2021, patches became a way to both enhance and repair old denim.

Trendalytics first caught wind of this trend in January, when it published a report noting that searches for men’s patchwork jeans and men’s patched jeans were up 120 percent and 75 percent, respectively. Now, with searches up 88 percent since last year, men’s patchwork jackets are stealing the spotlight, and are considered a “safe bet” for retailers.