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Menswear Milan 2015-2016

by Bernardo van Eekhout in Lifestyle & Fashion , 09 september 2015


After years of disappointing sales figures, the Italian fashion houses are finally showing good sales. Many fashion houses are on the mend, partly because of the recovering world economy. 2014 showed an average growth of 4.6 percent, and the prospects for the second half of 2015 and for 2016 are positive.

The Asian countries still represent the main market for Italian fashion houses. The region constitutes over thirty-seven percent of market share for Salvatore Ferragamo’s total sales in 2014, with the biggest increase in China. Roberto Cavalli has closed the fiscal year 2014 with a turnover increase of 4.2 percent. Versace can also be confident about the future with a turnover increase of twenty-seven percent.

The aftermath of the crunch has caused a very clear change in buying behavior. Openly showing the brand logo on products and garments is avoided and is no longer considered to be hip. Consumers are now preferring a more conservative, discrete luxury product that is not perceived as pushy. Famous brands, such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton, are therefore adapting their new products to this new consumer demand - less visible logos. It is all about “understated luxury.” People with money no longer want to show their wealth through products with logos. To remain exclusive, luxury brands are also opening less shops. “We do our utmost to renew our product offer. To give it a modern look,” says François-Henri Pinault, CEO of luxury conglomerate Kering, which owns Gucci and Louis Vuitton, among others.

In the past few years, a remarkable large number of luxury brands have been showcasing their rich history and craftsmanship in order to give their products added value, in the hope to distinguish themselves from competitors. But the luxury industry has now become so successful and attainable to so many consumers, that the feeling of exclusivity is often lost. The luxury goods market totaled 223 billion euros, three times what it did twenty years ago. The number of consumers of luxury goods will increase from 390 million now to approximately 465 million in 2021. This is mostly because of the purchasing power of the Chinese consumer. Yet, the sales of luxury goods saw a decrease of one percent compared to 2013.

But the prospects are good, as it is estimated that in five years’ time, the Chinese consumer will spend approximately two times as much as the American consumer. It is striking that the Chinese luxury market is dominated by men (the only one worldwide) due to their financial independence. Because of the weak Euro, Chinese tourists spent a record amount on luxury goods in Europe in the first quarter in 2015. An increase of about sixty-seven percent. This is a favorable development for the Italian fashion industry, as the Chinese consumer is spending the most of all tourists, approximately 2,900 euros each.

Gender Blending

The most shocking news from Milan had to be the rather sudden cancellation of the men’s show of creative director Frida Giannini for Gucci. What should have been her farewell collection after ten years of faithful service, was cancelled last-minute by Gucci. Even though the collection was completely ready, Gucci wanted a radical break and chose to appoint the Italian Alessandro Michele (head accessories designer at Gucci) as the new creative director. He only had five days to present an entirely new men’s collection. Every trace of Giannini was radically erased - a different casting agency for models, a different catwalk presentation, and a completely new image for men.

No longer any flashy and fashionable Gucci males, but a younger and softer version of a super pale Gucci boy with a soft and romantic look. Under Michele’s vision, he wears garments that are suitable for both men and women - loose-fitting crêpe-de-chine shirts that can be tied (with fastening on the back), red transparent lace tops, and tunic shirts.

Only the belts with a double G logo betray that it really is Gucci. Michele: “I’ve tried to start a small revolution in Gucci. To come with a different language and communicate beauty and what is sexy in a different way. Nowadays, it is all about sensuality. When I started working on this collection, I wasn’t thinking in strict fashion terms, but more in attitudes. I’m trying to find that type of beauty for the beautiful and charming brand that is Gucci.” Not entirely unexpected, some female models also took part to enforce the idea of “gender blending.”

With this radical change, Gucci hopes to become profitable again, as the company has been confronted with decreasing sales since 2013. Despite a turnover of 3.49 billion euros in 2014, its profit saw a decrease of 6.7 percent. And also in the first quarter of 2015, the turnover decreased with 7.9 percent. This is mostly due to a decrease in Chinese demand (the main reason why Frida Giannini was let go). Chinese consumers were no longer interested in the handbags with Gucci logo. For this reason, sixty percent of the articles no longer have a visible Gucci label. And to erase all Giannini’s heritage, Gucci is now selling articles that were designed by her at a fifty percent discount in China.

Unisex

Analyzing the male-female relationship also remains a source of inspiration for Miuccia Prada. Prada: “What are the unexpected possibilities? The various forms of relationships between men and women that can arise in the way they dress. How do they present themselves? This has always been a question on my mind.” Creating an overflow between the collections for men and women is something Prada had wanted to do for a long time. Designing men’s clothes had made Miuccia wonder if she could transfer these ideas to women’s clothes.

For several seasons now, she has female models walk men’s wear and set a trend in doing so. Also in the presentation of this collection. But unfortunately these last seasons, the Prada collections are missing the unexpected elements that used to make her collections so exciting and different. No prints or color in the men’s collection.

Simple and understandable business wear - beautiful tailored six-buttoned double-breasted men’s suits with super narrow trousers. The sleeves of the jackets are rolled up, making white lining visible. Short nylon shirts with wide sleeves look very summery, and trench coats in different light materials are worn on top of each other. All clothes are in ton-sur-ton with a retro 1970s hairdo for the male models. “Uniform and strict elegance. That is the fashion that is allowed at the moment. I wanted to make it modern and elegant, but I do not know exactly what that means. So we ended up with black, blue, and grey for this collection.”

Just like Gucci, Prada is also dealing with disappointing sales figures. Its nett profit decreased by twenty-eight percent over 2014, the largest decrease in four years. And in the first quarter of 2015, the turnover also decreased with 44.2 percent. Again, this is mostly due to less spending by the Chinese consumer. Prada will now lower the prices in Asia to stimulate sales in the region. In Europe, the prices will not be raised, something Chanel is doing to even out the price difference between Asia and Europe. Some items are seventy percent more expensive in China than in Europe. Prada will also open less shops in 2016 and launch cheaper bags that will cost 1,000- 1,200 euros.

The eighty-one-year-old Giorgio Armani also has unisex fever and shows identical garments for both genders. Men and women are side by side on the catwalk, in uniform garments, color and cut - completely interchangeable. Double-breasted costumes for him and her, black tuxedo jackets with wide trousers for him and her, grey pleated trousers with knitted vests for him and her, and grey two-button blazers with woollen vests and croco lace-up shoes for him and her. Gender blending at his/her best.

Alta Moda

For the most critical and extremely wealthy man, “Alta Sarteria Uomo” by Dolce&Gabbana has recently become available, in other words: haute couture for men. Worldwide custom-made clothes for rich male clients. Everything in the Alta Sarteria line can be customized to the taste of the client, from the color of the stitching of button holes to the type of leather for the matching shoes. “This is a new type of relationship with our male clients. They can determine everything themselves. We are doing Alta Sarteria because of our love for Italian fashion,” Dolce notes. Their circle of customers consists of rich men from the Russian Federation, China, the Middle-East and the United States of America. Dolce&Gabbana have achieved a marvelous milestone. They realized a turnover of more than one billion euros in 2014! This year, they will invest seventy-four million euros in the expansion of their own sales network, and have made considerable investments in the haute couture line for men.

Fashion house Versace also presents biennial haute couture collections, but not (yet) for men. In one of her best collections to date, Donatella strips the Versace male of all familiar decorative finery. “Versace stripped. No decoration, no color and prints. Just the soul of Versace: silhouette and cut. Comfortable... but sexy!,” Donatella says. She plays with different lengths and proportions - long over short, and narrow and wide alternate. Grey metallic-like fabrics for sharply cut suits, and shirts with golden buttons - or as a replacement metal buckles. The most perfectly cut trench coats in blue or ecru. The most beautiful masculine and athletic silhouette is achieved with XL knitted vests and long V-neck sweaters to the hip, combined with tight leggings for men. Golden spectacle frames give instant glamour.

“I have removed all the typical Versace decorations. This is the pure Versace soul that stands on his own.” The only print is on a black and white checkered and hooded three-quarter jacket and a sporty baseball jack. The only Versace excess is a mink coat in ecru with a large hoodie on a long V-neck sweater with white knitted legging. Gstaad luxury at its best. As a counterpart of the ultra-tight leggings, there are wide Charlie Chaplin trousers with wide legs and a lowered crotch. Versace at her best! Because the Versace man shows a more feminine side in this collection, without ever being robbed of his masculinity.

Geometry

One of the most important trends for men are garments with geometrical and graphic surfaces, mostly in various color combinations. “Geometrics are a new form of decoration,” note the creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli of fashion house Valentino. Inspired by geometric color-blocked paintings of the Australian artist Esther Stewart, both designers show three-quarter woollen men’s jackets, short leather jacks and sweaters, in various geometrical shapes and color combinations with matching bags in the same color combinations. All made from the most luxurious materials. Undoubtedly the cheaper fashion chains will get inspiration from this for more affordable garments. Valentino also had a very successful 2014. Its sales increased with thirty-seven percent to 664 million euros, with men’s fashion representing twenty percent of total sales. This year, Valentino will open another twenty to thirty stores.



 







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In the New Issue of Gay News, 313, September 2017

















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