With the closing of the Berlin shows last week the menswear buying season is rapidly coming to an end, so it seems as good a time as any to take stock.
One thing I’ve certainly been aware of on my travels at home and abroad is how much more refined collections are looking. By ‘refined’ I don’t just mean smarter - although there is still plenty of that - but in general a more accurate and honed eye has been applied to even the most middle-of-the-road clothes. Details, cut and fabrics have all been tweaked to make something that should work well for each brand’s individual markets. Obviously there are still some right pigs - but the general standard is a lot higher, which is nice.
But what’s really interesting is how premium and designer brands have moved towards showing more commercial shapes at their presentations and catwalks, as those operating in the mid-market and below use techniques and develop ideas previously only seen in the upper echelons. All across London, Florence, Milan and Paris, design teams have taken a more pragmatic view on range planning, leaving less room for superfluous ‘show pieces’ and maximising the saleability of their collections. Don’t get me wrong - this was no parade of identikit mannequins - but it was really refreshing to see.
Take Kenzo, for example. How a brand can make a simple sweatshirt so covetable I’ll never know. But what I do know is I want the wave-embroidered one from the show. Badly. When all’s said and done it’s just a sweat with a logo and graphic on the front, which as a concept sounds incredibly archaic, but the fact that the shape is simple, the fabric good quality and the colour familiar makes for something I’d actually want to own. I’ll back simple, stylish commercial separates over show pieces any day, and I think so will the customers.