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Menswear Paris 2014-2015

by Bernardo van Eekhout in Lifestyle & Fashion , 04 november 2014


The list of designers who showed their menswear collections for the upcoming autumn and winter season in Paris last January, was long. They came from various countries, such as Colombia , Croatia, Denmark, Germany and Italy. Paris serves as an international platform and showcase of what menswear has to offer.

“On the one hand we have tradition, but on the other we have a large international audience here in Paris,” Didier Grumback, president of the Fédération Française de la Couture et des Créateurs de Mode notes. “We have twenty-three different nationalities that show during the women’s collections. I did not count the number for men’s collections, but it should be about the same. Where the Italians stayed more Italian, we believe that in Paris, fashion has no nationality...”

The European clothing market has been under pressure for years. It is clearly not doing well. This is partly due to changing consumer behavior, the ongoing credit crunch, and the rise of online shopping. Of course, there are considerable differences between countries, but in the previous year, the turnover in the industry has decreased in almost all countries. With a percentage of minus five / minus six percent, Spain and The Netherlands saw the biggest decrease. This is mostly due to low consumer confidence as an indicator of the purchasing behavior of consumers, particularly for a product group like apparel.

In The Netherlands, the total turnover of all apparel groups saw a decline of fifteen percent over the last four years to 8.1 billion Euros. In 2013, the turnover of menswear in The Netherlands fell by 2.9 percent. Partly because of the ongoing crisis, the Dutch label British Indigo recently stopped, and Dutch designer Hand Ubbink announced that he will cease his fashion label activities as per January 1, 2015. Because of the credit crunch, many of his regular customers have gone bankrupt. Ubbink also announced that he will close his shop on the Herenstraat in Amsterdam in September, and that in the last twelve years, he has not created a new men’s summer collection. He is taking a break to think about the future of his company. In spite of all the negative reports, retail experts expect that the turnover of the Dutch fashion industry will grow next year. For 2020, a turnover of 8.8 billion is expected.


High Luxury

Paris remains the most popular retail market, attracting about fifty new brands in 2013. Since 1946, the city of light also serves as the home base for Christian Dior, where Belgian creative director Kris Van Assche now designs the Dior Homme collections. This time, he plays with the traditional pinstripe suit, in which different pinstripe-widths in the blazer or trousers are combined. Sometimes with embroidered lilies of the valley (the favorite flower and lucky charm of the late Monsieur Dior) at chest height or all-over white floral print on the entire costume. With this, matching wide parkas in pinstripe / Japanese khaki nylon or dark brown pilot-like sheepskin coats.

“I wanted to bring in more variety,” Van Assche notes. “This time, I really wanted to accentuate the range of Dior and expand it. Perhaps even to the edge of the extreme. This time, the men’s suit is a three piece with flower embroidery. The other reality, which is also part of Dior, is made up of the parkas, jeans and sneakers that are all extremely luxurious.”

Dior denim is new and will be back next summer as an even bigger theme in the collection. Black-and-white jumpers have graphic floral prints with matching shirts. The same floral print is magnified on XL oversized men’s coats that announce a new wide silhouette for men. “We found that rose print in the Dior archives, and have blown it up considerably,” Van Assche notes. Last year, Dior opened about twenty-one new sales points, and now has approximately two hundred stores. Even though last year, profits rose by twenty-six percent to 165 million Euros, in the first half of 2014, the turnover fell by 8.6 percent compared to last year.


Worldwide, it is still the Chinese consumer who spends a lot of money on luxury goods; of the eighty billion dollars they spent on personal luxury, two-thirds of that spending took place outside of China. That is because luxury goods are about fifty percent cheaper abroad. Chinese consumers are generally known as brand junkies and shopaholics. The male Chinese consumer accounts for fifty-five percent of all luxury purchases in their home country.

In other countries, the average is at forty percent. Of all the luxury goods purchased in Europe, over forty percent has been made by the brand crazy Chinese consumer. For this reason, more and more brands are investing in their European stores, and less in their Chinese outlets. Louis Vuitton for example, recently opened a store of 10,000 square meters in London. For the happy few, there is the super luxurious ready-to-wear Louis Vuitton designed by British designer Kim Jones.

The must-have this season is the oversized men’s jacket, either bicolored or striped at the bottom, and in reversible cashmere. Worn loosely over the shoulders with matching XL scarves. This time, Jones collected the very best materials and the most luxurious wools in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. “We used vicuña wool (this wool is thinner and softer than any other wool on earth) and Chinchilla fur to maintain the luxury feel of Vuitton. We wanted to give the collection a rich and simple look, because at the moment, men want comfort and convenience,” Jones notes.

The simple long mouse-grey T-shirts with matching pants (with slightly wrinkled waist) look as the most comfortable male silhouette. The new (logo free!) folded L.V. messenger bag has a steel handle or comes entirely in shiny silver. Everything matches and is attuned... and very desirable! Over 2012, luxury conglomerate LVMH (which includes Louis Vuitton) reported a revenue increase of four percent, seeing a profit over six billion Euros for the first time ever. In the first months of 2014, the turnover saw an increase of four percent to 7.2 million Euros. LVMH has set the goal to globally enforce its leading position as a supplier of luxury goods in 2014. They will invest in knowledge and skills in their different brands, and will invest in innovation and expansion in emerging markets.


L’Homme Sportif

Another luxury brand under the umbrella of LVMH is Givenchy. Since the appointment of the Italian Riccardo Tisci as creative director of this French fashion house, it has been modernized considerably. Since 2005, he is responsible for all Givenchy collections and his designs and prints are frequently copied by fast-fashion chains like Zara and H&M. For his winter collection, Tisci fuses sports (read basketball) and fashion in a very powerful way. “This collection is inspired by an adolescent basketball career and an obsession with Bauhaus. Basketball is a free game, and virtually anywhere on the street you can find a spot to play it. This was my starting point, after which I added Bauhaus elements and hairnets on the face. Even though basketball has been done before, I did so in a very unusual way,” Tisci states.

The typical basketball lines come back as prints on black neoprene sweatshirts, in silver zippers on padded velvet blousons and white shirts, and as graphic lines on the side seams of grey flannel trousers. The sporty basketball tank top is now oversized in fluffy grey angora wool or as XL pullover, sometimes with bright color bands on the arms.

Mr Tisci also does not shy away from musquash for spacious fur coats or as lining for hoods. The hair of the male models is cut tight and back, and is kept in its place by black hairnets that also cover the faces of the models. “This was how men in the 1920s covered their hair to keep it in model. Gangsters simply copied this.” At the end of the month, this designer will receive a KCA Humanitarian Award for his support of children and families affected by HIV and AIDS. Mr Tisci is also honored because of his fight against discrimination in the fashion world and breaking cultural barriers.


Deconstruction Mix

The dividing line between men’s and women’s collections seems to fade ever more, with various designers using female models in men’s shows, like Prada, Haider Ackermann, Givenchy and Carven. Sometimes female models are even wearing men’s clothing. The other way around is not (yet) fully conceivable. Controversial Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo proves with her menswear label Comme des Garçons Homme Plus that classic men’s suits do not have to be boring by definition. She hauls it over the coals, resulting in torn side and back stitches (sometimes putting in zippers), large gaps where the flaps are, and at chest height. As if she personally has ripped the material. With all these gaps (at the back of the blazers and outlined by black velvet), the colorful shirt (often with frills) clearly peeps through.

Even the sneakers have openings. It is intellectual fashion that is especially popular with artistic members of the male population. The new scarf only consists of the collar portion of the costume; sometimes in tartan, or in the same fabric as the three-quarter men’s coat. The frightening wigs, partially covering the faces of the male models, increase the alien effect of this somewhat sinister collection. Hairstylist Julien d’Ys was inspired by Ganesha’s elephant head, worshiped by the Hindus as the god of wisdom, prosperity and happiness.

One of the most colorful and playful collections this season comes from Belgian designer Dries Van Noten. The collection is divided into four color groups: pink, yellow, green, and blue. “It is street culture, punk, new wave, new beat and skaters in combination with male portraits from the Renaissance. We really wanted to create a mix of Renaissance and street wear, and the number of similarities was sometimes surprising,” Van Noten states. The “tie&dye” (a dyeing technique in which part of the garment is tied) was very popular with the hippie movement in the 1960s) is a theme in the entire collection: for sweaters, trousers and shirts, often worn layer upon layer.

“I thought it was important to emphasize the use of color. We have experimented with paint patterns a lot, as I wanted to immerse classic shirts entirely with paint patterns, besides using a lot of surprising colors.” Van Noten also plays with graphic lineation and the division of space in the men’s collection, with a lot of patchwork and mixing of different fabrics in one garment. Not always equally successful. Striking are the skillfully sprayed color blocks in the hair of the models, often matching the color of their outfits. A
s an eye-catching accessory there are brightly colored fur stoles for men. Gaultier was one of the first who shocked the fashion world with these in the 1980s. “If you use fur, just as in Renaissance paintings, you eventually get a Kayne West quality. So it was a really interesting exploration of all these coincidences,” Van Noten says. But are men in the year 2014 ready for this? They must be, considering the amount of fur that various designers have showed in both Milan and Paris.



 







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