The runways around the world are quiet now, and buyers have had time to digest the myriad of looks from New York to Europe to Asia. And while so much of the fashion is focused on women’s wear, the men’s shows were bursting with fresh looks that experts have waded through to come up with the best for spring/summer 2023.
“While hiking narratives remain the backbone of the outdoor trend, with technical clothing persisting, gardening themes refreshed the story with floral prints and pastel hues noted at Dior and even sprouting sneakers at Loewe,” says Edited’s Karis Munday, retail and runway analyst. “Nostalgic themes have begun to blow over from women’s wear, with 90s and Y2K references on the up. From the runway, the skater boy was the source of inspiration with classic T-shirts, shirts and tailored trousers, all in updated, baggier fits. The prep boy also returned, but with a streetstyle influence, seeing blazers and oxford shirts mixed with slouchy sweats and neon hues.”
Carl Ayers, creative director at the Talent Unlimited Group, also sees the oversized looks taking over next year.
“From exaggerated shoulders to long, flared hemlines, the bigger and baggier look is back,” Ayers says. “However, as we see clothes becoming looser, we will also see some aspects of men’s clothing become more revealing. Plunging V-necklines, sleeveless shirts, mid-cut shirts exposing the belly button, even going shirtless under a jacket will become a new look for some guys. Also, the thigh-high shorts we saw in summer of 2022 will come back for 2023.”
Ayers says spring will bring familiar brights, stripes, and florals to men’s, as well as traditional fall aesthetics like plaids and checks. Pink and purple will be hot colors. And matching shirts and pants in bold patterns will trend. Merchants should also be ready with embellishments of fringes and appliques, bright knits, mesh tops, metallics, and leather.
Fashion Snoops’ Michael Fisher, vice president and creative director, says “revenge travel” is single-handedly driving the economy in an otherwise turbulent, inflation-filled time.
“Utility is ever-present, but we’re seeing it show up in such design-forward ways, fully emphasizing a man’s modern needs for an adaptable wardrobe to reflect his ‘anything can happen’ lifestyle,” Fisher says. “There’s lots of easygoing approaches such as classic workwear, which makes a big return after taking a backseat to athleisure and streetwear for so long. We’re also excited to see a bold dose of color for technical materials and just a really cool, otherworldly effect on the great outdoors in the form of a dreamy, Atlantis-inspired story all about doing activewear in a really contemporary, tailored way. Every single narrative we forecasted for spring/summer 2023 is centered around literal and metaphorical escape.”
These baggy and easygoing approaches are addressing men’s preferences for comfort in their apparel. In fact, nearly 7 of 10 male shoppers (67 percent) are unwilling to sacrifice comfort for fashion, according to the 2022 Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™Survey. That’s reflected in what they wear as well: men’s most popular clothing choices in the last month were T-shirts (50 percent), sweats (32 percent), activewear (26 percent), denim jeans (26 percent), athleisure (24 percent), casual shirts (22 percent), and casual pants (17 percent), according to the 2022 Coronavirus Consumer Response Survey (Waves 10-12).
Among Gen Z males, T-shirts (49 percent) and sweats (46 percent) were the most popular items worn in the last month, while denim jeans were worn by 16 percent, according to the 2022 Coronavirus Consumer Response Survey research. Of note, T-shirts (50 percent) remain popular across all age groups. But as their age increases, men are less likely to wear sweats – dropping to 30 percent among those aged 25-to-34, 24 percent among those aged 35-to-44 and 19 percent among those 55+. Meanwhile, denim jeans increase in popularity as men’s ages increase, with 42 percent of those aged 55+ reaching for them in the past month.
But whether it’s T-shirts, sweats, jeans, or any other casual apparel, cotton is the favorite fiber or fabric to wear among all men (55 percent), according to Monitor™ research. That’s followed by denim (8 percent), polyester (4 percent), silk (3 percent), and cotton blends (2 percent)
This preference for cotton dovetails nicely with men’s wear trends for spring and summer, where prep styles will merge with streetwear, and suitings will have a more relaxed approach.
“Streetwear’s adoption of preppy styling has seen a merger of aesthetics come together. Jogger shorts and hoodies styled with smarter areas, like oxford shirts and loafers, have revived the traditional Ivy League to appeal to a new era of consumers thanks to labels like RHUDE, MSGM and Kenzo,” Munday says.
“As people are still greatly working out of the office, whether at home, coffee shops, parks, etc., relaxed clothing is more a need and desire,” Ayers states. “I don’t think there will be a decrease in either streetwear or loungewear. However, I think there will be an increase in the luxury elements within the style segment. From tailored fittings and luxe fabrics, to mixing and matching with more traditional garments, I think streetwear and loungewear will be ‘punched up,’ but will keep the aesthetic components integral to the style.”
As for denim, the experts see it remaining a staple item, perhaps even seeing more activity in the coming months. Already, jeans (27 percent) were a top clothing item most recently purchased by men, second only to t-shirts (31 percent) in popularity, according to the 2022 Coronavirus Consumer Response Survey.
“Denim has been living in the background for nearly a decade now, especially since athleisure became so important,” Fisher explains. “However, we are now seeing an uptick in denim interest, especially as workwear-inspired silhouettes are coming back around again. More than just jeans, which never go away, we’re forecasting for denim to be used in new and interesting ways to reflect that easygoing global nomad trend — things like bombers, kimono and robe shapes, duster coats and boxy shirts.”
Ayers agrees, saying even the denim-on-denim trend will be strong for spring. Still, “If a guy doesn’t want to be an all-out ‘dungaree dude,’ he should include a denim shirt, jacket and multiple jean pants in his closet. Circling back to streetwear, denim is a key element to fashion. Available in a wide range of colors, washes and cuts, every man can find some denim that matches his personal style.”
Munday, too, says retailers should be prepared to offer plenty of newness in men’s denim.
“Denim was another category to bounce back on the runway after taking a backseat for the past few seasons,” Munday says. “Wide-leg silhouettes, faded washes and distressing fed into the growing grunge and skater aesthetics, while double-denim was favored across big names, including Prada and Givenchy, certifying its relevance for 2023.”
The Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ Survey is an ongoing research program that measures consumer attitudes and behaviors relating to apparel, shopping, fashion, sustainability, and more.
For more information about the Lifestyle Monitor™ Survey, please visit https://lifestylemonitor.cottoninc.com/.