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Menswear plays its strong suit

Jessica Brown

Dressing better. That’s what men will be doing come autumn 11 if the last fortnight of collection previews is anything to go by.

Dressing better. That’s what men will be doing come autumn 11 if the last fortnight of collection previews is anything to go by.

Starting with Pitti Uomo in Florence last week (which was extremely well attended by UK buyers) before moving to Milan for the first Men’s Fashion Week this week, menswear buyers have been treated to some very solid trend direction by most of the big-name brands.

Thanks to Mad Men’s Don Draper, tailoring is making a big comeback - potentially great news for hiding rising commodity prices from shoppers who should expect to pay a little more for a tailored jacket.

Gucci and Aquascutum suits sharp-shouldered down the runway while British fashion got a welcome boost thanks to designer references to Savile Row techniques, silhouettes and heritage fabrics like tweed. Both Prada and Armani took the look short and boxy - another key direction for next season.

How younger male shoppers will take to this smartening up is a conundrum for buyers. The high street has already milked the heritage trend led by brands like Barbour, lining their rails with quilted jackets, while chunky knits with shawl collars have also been on offer relatively cheaply in Topman and Burton. These looks haven’t gone away but should be bought with caution.

It’s true that tailoring is harder to copy well and this is where indies and brands should benefit. While I doubt the 20-something male will take to wearing a greatcoat over a three-piece suit or plus fours next season, it is time to move away from the deconstructed styling and blazer and jeans looks that have bookended menswear sales for so long.

To help you buy smart, the Drapers team has distilled the key menswear looks to bring you a round-up from Florence (p28) and a comprehensive buying guide for autumn 11 (p35).

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