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Fashion: Menswear Milan 2014

by Bernardo van Eekhout in Lifestyle & Fashion , 10 april 2014


The city of Milan and the Italian fashion industry want to become leading in the international world of fashion again. They want to be able to compete with other fashion capitals, such as Paris, New York and London. For this, six proposals were written, including proposals for the development of more resources for creativity, for investments in the city itself, and tax incentives. With the slogan “Enjoy Milan,” the image and quality of life in the city needs to be improved, notwithstanding the international fashion events.

For some time now, the European fashion industry is having difficulties. But thanks to increasing exports, the Italian industry, with more than 650,000 workers and 70,000 companies, expects to grow again in 2014. The Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI) is counting on a revenue increase of 5.4 percent to 62.5 billion euros. Export is estimated to increase to seventy-six percent of total sales, also due to growth in the United States and Hong Kong. Because of the credit crunch, sales on the Italian market remain rather weak. “But sales seem to be in an upward trend,” says CNMI president Mario Boselli. “Our industry will have to rely on remarkable export managers, capable of selling our treasures and companies. And the future of the Italian fashion industry will rest on the shoulders of young Italian designers.”

The large, well-known Italian fashion houses and designers are doing well, as they are represented on all the strong markets in this point in time: the USA, Russia, China, South-East Asia, and the Middle-East. These markets demand high-quality products by strong brand names. But there is little flexibility, also because of decreasing demand from China, which was upcoming for years. Not that long ago, brands only needed to have a presence in China to sell. But those days are over, because there, the luxury market is somewhat saturated. This has resulted in a significant decrease of the number of new stores that are being opened by luxury brands in China.

Furthermore, the Chinese government has become more strict with European luxury brands since 2012. The Chinese Communist Party is restricting the purchase of luxury goods with a ban on luxury goods (read: European luxury brands) with a ban on TV and radio ads. Nevertheless, Chinese consumers are still purchasing luxury goods in Europe, because they are cheaper in Paris or Milan than in Beijing or Shanghai. With Chinese men representing fifty-five percent of the Chinese market of luxury product, far above the general average of forty percent.


Italian Flowers

Floral prints for men are the must-have this season. This also holds true for the clean Gucci collection, which can be divided into two categories: sporty and romantic. Creative director Frida Giannini unceremoniously mixes different (embroidered) antique floral prints with supple fabrics. The sporty items are loose-fitting anoraks and sailor jackets with large hoods and graphic lineation. With striking tight jodhpurs (rider pants) with inserts. “I really wanted to warm up the sporty with some romance. A bit more sensual. Fortunately, the Gucci man is happily decadent.” According to Giannini, the introduction of small romantic items with floral print to something with a very athletic look is in line with Gucci’s dualism.

Remarkably beautiful is a sporty caramel colored bomber jacket of the most supple napa leather. Soft as butter. And because you want to wear something luxurious in your spare time, Giannini says, there are also matching t-shirts. But these are not so great. With a turnover decrease of 5.4 percent in the third quarter of 2013, Gucci has seen its worst turnover figure in four years’ time. As Gucci’s owner, luxury conglomerate Kering is trying to make the Gucci products more exclusive by raising the entry prices of small leather wear and brand luggage. But Gucci should focus more on logo-free leather products, as in Asia and Australia, these logo-free products make up about forty percent of total revenue. Increasingly, consumers are experiencing logo fatigue.

Two other female designers playing with floral prints in their men’s collections are Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen and Miuccia Prada. The men’s costume at McQueen was extended in terms of proportions with wide (below the knees) Bermudas or extremely narrow trousers. In print with colored flowers or in graphic black and white. At times, the fabric has woven skulls, McQueen’s symbol. More romantic are the outfits that are completely made of lace, which up to this point is unique in men’s fashion.

At Prada, the new men’s shirt has an exuberant floral print with an elastic waist band. As if it were a coat. Simple jackets with zippers have summery prints of sunsets and palm trees. Enlarged, many of these prints can be seen in the decor of the cat walk. Tricot polos and sweaters (plain or in floral print) with short sleeves are worn over long flowered shirts. With matching small weekend cases in the same floral print. “I was wondering about the cliché of the exotic.

The cliché of the perfect summer and impossible happiness,” is Miuccia Prada’s explanation of all those floral prints which, without a doubt, will quickly be copied by the cheaper fashion chains for the general public. Prada as well is seeing a decrease in product demand, especially from China. In the first half of the fiscal year 2013-2014, the net profit did increase with 7.6 percent to 308.2 million euros, but that was less than before.



Graphic Men

Nobody could have suspected that German designer Jil Sander would leave her own fashion label for the third time. For personal reasons, and one month prior to her seventieth birthday. In the past, this “queen of minimalism” had resigned in 1999 and in 2007. Her last men’s collection is a very clean and graphic collection, in which she plays with color areas and strips of white, black and light fluor pink. Implemented within the strict pattern of shirts (sometimes also with elastic waistbands comparable to Prada), wide Bermudas that look like a men’s skirt, three-button jackets and three-quarter length men’s coats.

Under the too short trouser-legs are black shiny socks or white lace-up shoes. The graphic black and white floral prints are surprising for someone who only works in uni-colors. “I am no queen of prints. But now I had the feeling I wanted to expand things,” Jill Sander states. Her studio team will now take care of future collections.

For German designer Tomas Maier, the collection design starts from the base: drawing on paper. “The sketch is the starting point, the black pencil on white paper. When you’re sketching, you have a pencil and an eraser, so you can always change everything.” As creative director for Bottega Veneta, he has taken this literal by drawing white and black chalk lines on the garments, making it look as if there are seams, pockets, beads and buttons on them. But that is an illusion.

This makes tunics look like shirts, and grey costumes seem to have trompe l’oeil collars and pockets. Graphically interesting, everything is radiating a retro 1950s and 1960s feel because of the rigid black and white line prints in various widths for polos, shirts and trousers. And for matching footwear: stylish lace-up shoes and moccasins in braided leather. “There is a change in the silhouette; the coats no longer have detailed waists. Loose-fitting shirts and large tunics. A silhouette like in the early 1960s,” Maier says. With a turnover increase of 7.3 percent in the third quarter of 2013, Bottega Veneta (also owned by Kering) is doing much better than Gucci.




Family Business

One of the large players in the luxury segment of men’s wear is the Italian, family owned business Ermenegildo Zegna. It generated more than 1.2 billion euros in annual revenue. Next to Armani and Versace, it is still a company under total family control, without its label taken over by some luxury conglomerate. At the moment, Stefano Pilati is in creative control at Zegna, after Yves Saint Laurent let him go. His debut collection is exactly what Zegna stands for: super elegant and perfectly cut men’s wear. In which its use of fabrics and research is one of the most important in Italian fashion collections. The most beautiful suede jackets, perfectly cut summer costumes and men’s long coats that can be tied around the waist as a dressing gown. Almost invisible damask floral prints on trousers or little Liberty flower prints on shirts with matching long coats. Don’t expect any revolutionary trends at Zegna. According to Pilati, “It is sexy! Zegna is a safe haven for men who want to purchase quality clothes. Typical is the lack of profusion: formal, but not too old or too young. The goal of the collection is to find a way to the represent the brand’s power and make it poetic and elegant at the same time.” For 2014, Zegna is expecting a revenue growth of less than ten percent because of decreasing Chinese demand.

By now, fashion house Versace has developed its own vocabulary that often just touches the edge of what is “on the wrong side” in men’s wear. And this time, all the well-known (read: predictable) Versace clichés come to the surface: striking baroque prints with leather and silver studs and zippers, and shoulders that are just too wide, just like the jaw lines of the grumpy looking models. This time, the muscled bodies of the models have been taped crisscross with colored and black sticking plaster strips that can also be seen in prints on spacious 1980s sweaters and sharply cut suits. “The colored rubber strips are also used by athletes. I chose to tape the models with it and use it as decoration for the garments,” Donatella Versace says. But despite Donatella’s remarks about a different silhouette of small and shorter trousers, the entire collection has a feel of garments for night club bouncers. “The Versace male is so powerful is so many different ways. There is the power of his athletic body, the power of our garments, the strong decoration, and the timelessness of Versace’s iconography.” Real Madrid players will be dressed by Versace in tailor-made and sharply cut suits and coats.



 







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