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Menswear Milan 2016

by Bernardo van Eekhout in Lifestyle & Fashion , 15 maart 2016

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

The Italian fashion industry saw its revenue increase by five percent over 2015, to a total of 64.5 billion euros. Menswear generated a revenue of nearly nine billion euros. The global credit crunch now seems to be a black page that can finally be turned. Although the export to the Russian Federation dropped by thirty-one percent, the general export of Italian fashion increased more than seven percent, especially to the United States of America and China.

Male consumers are mostly responsible for this increase, and therefore are increasingly becoming an important target group for the industry. Male expenditure on garments and grooming is now exceeding women’s.

Luxury brands cleverly capitalize on this by opening shops that are exclusively for men. The growth of the luxury menswear industry is significantly larger than that of women’s. On a yearly basis, the expenditure on menswear rise with 4.5 percent on average, in comparison with 3.7 percent for women’s. In line with the increasing popularity of luxury menswear, the French label Hermès has launched a website especially for menswear: “Le Manifeste d’Hermès”.

It is meant to make this brand’s menswear more accessible to men. The Italian luxury label Fendi also concludes that the market for menswear is becoming ever more lucrative. A Fendi spokesperson: “I think that men have become very important luxury clients. At the moment, the market for menswear is growing twice as hard in comparison with the market for women. That is why we at Fendi, pay a lot of attention to menswear.”

At the same time for some seasons, the collections for men and women are increasingly melting into each other, judging by the various men’s shows in which more frequently female models take part. For some years, this holds true for the Gucci, Prada, Moschino, Costume National Homme, and Giorgio Armani shows, among others. The strict distinction between the typically masculine or feminine seems to be getting vaguer. “Genderless” has become the new fashion word.

Uomo Renaissance

With the appointment of Alessandro Michele as new creative director of Gucci, the ninety-five-year-old fashion label is undergoing a revolutionary and successful metamorphosis. The flashy jet-set Gucci male with high playboy allure has disappeared entirely. Led by Michele, the new Gucci male isn’t afraid to show his feminine side any more. Here, Michele is clearly capitalizing on the feminisation of men in general. “This sexless ambiguousness comes from contemporary youth,” Michele states. “The styling of your garments gives you the opportunity to express yourself in various ways. Men are now also ready to change their look, as fashion isn’t just about what color is trendy any more. It can manifest itself in many different ways.”

The collection contains a lot of loose items, such as 1970s suits with embroidery all-over or cut from floral brocade fabrics. The trousers are slightly flared. Trench coats with double G-logo as print, crochet shorts and sweaters with butterfly applications, bow blouses, lace shirts with crochet flower applications. The garments are interchangeable for both genders and are worn by very androgynous-looking models with sometimes long hair. This unisex feeling is amplified by female models in menswear shows. “I try to make every look as unique as possible. I love to work with the past and translate it into the future. Because Gucci now stands for youth, excitement, and energy.”

For the time being, both consumers and the press reacted positively on Michele’s very first collection. In the third quarter of 2015, Gucci realized a slight revenue increase of 0.4 percent. However, it doesn’t expect to see positive effects from the transformation in terms of good sales figures until the spring of 2016. “We see many new customers buying the collection without losing old ones. The last months were a transition period, but we are now seeing the results of the Gucci reorganization,” notes Gucci’s C.E.O. Marco Bizzarri.

Fashion label Moschino is also experiencing a true revival, thanks to the creative input of American designer Jeremy Scott. Scott proves that menswear (fortunately) can be humorous again, with his ironic and flamboyant over-the-top Royal Moschino collection. With a very high degree of a “Rock me Amadeus” Falco clip, this results in a costume party with a mix of Formula 1 motor racing and Louis XVI with a baroque flavor. Worn by models with white powdered faces, pearl earrings and Rococo haircuts with ringlets - the 2016 Moschino dandy. Scott: “Baroque inspired me. Very beautiful and decadent, a mix of the old with the futuristic. I also wanted to add cartoon elements and combine them with rich materials to make it as personal and modern as possible. To me, the only taboo in menswear is dullness.” However hilarious, some outfits just cross the line with the grotesque, making these less plausible. In this show as well, some female models, including the Dutch Daphne Groeneveld and Romee Strijd, could be seen on the catwalk. Watched by Katy Perry on the front row, as she currently is the face of the Moschino campaign.

Uomo Italiano

In a décor of oversized Versace scarves stitched together, this show mostly reminded the spectator of a Bedouin Tent. Donatella Versace: “I like drama. I am a drama queen, and it is time to rock the Casbah.” This time, Donatella plays with different lengths, with outfits that are worn layer on layer, in which the lengthened flowing silhouette is a must. The lengthened (mostly airy shirts) get up to the knees like Arab djellabas, to sneak out from under the blazers. At times, both items have the same polka dot pyjama print, replacing the loud Versace baroque print.

Under sporty baseball jackets of silk or satin (sometimes with a hood) come out lengthened jersey shirts, sometimes with open side seams and fastening. Many purples in all gradations, as according to Versace, purple is the color for men this summer. The male models wear long knotted scarves around the head and braided leather sandals with socks as accessories. At the moment, Versace is worth over 1.14 billion euros, with fifty percent of total revenue generated from the collections for men. In the USA alone, Versace opened forty outlets and expect to reach a turnover of 800 million euros.

While most Italian fashion houses are showing a profit again, the sales figures at Prada fall behind. In the first six months of 2015, its nett income dropped by twenty-three percent to 188.6 million euros. This is due to a decrease in demand for luxury goods in China as a result of disappointing economic growth figures, too many newly opened Prada stores, and a lack of innovative Prada products. “The mood of the global economy is still fragile, and the recent instability in Asia did not help,” says a Prada spokesperson. Miuccia’s vision on fashion is often confusing and not entirely logical, often being ahead of time. She was one of the first to have female models on the catwalk for men’s shows. But her men’s collections of the last seasons unfortunately were not as surprising and innovative as before.

This time at the basis are silhouette oversized silk shirts with turtle-necks with zip-fastening worn under them, on grey shorts with simple jackets (in various lengths), usually stitched through with white. More interesting and commercial are the knitted sweaters with boat neck collar with all kinds of symbols of rockets, rabbits, and race cars woven into them. With matching versions for women. Undoubtedly, these symbols will be copied by retail fashion chains, such as H&M, Zara, and Primark.

Strikingly flashy are the sneakers with large, open holes, colorfully trimmed. The women’s purses are made of the same material. “These symbols of rockets and rabbits stand for every form of symbolic advertising. Even though I do not wish to simplify thoughts, we can chose stupid and childlike symbols if they have the right look graphically,” Miuccia Prada notes. “Staying human and modest is difficult in this modern world, it is necessary to be aggressive and bold.”

Uomo Classico

The collection of Ermenegildo Zegna, where Stefano Pilati has been creative director since 2013, is fresh and minimalist, and dresses extremely lightly. Nicely cut lightweight costumes in white or black (and sometimes transparent) with soft round shoulders, and marked waists on loose-fitting trousers. Long checkered scarves are their accessories. “Because I was using these light fabrics, I had to consider the inside of the garments. Transparency is considered sexy, something we do not regularly see in tailoring,” Pilati notes. It looks like a successful mix of Jil Sander and Giorgio Armani.

Zegna also makes custom-made suits for Tom Ford (worn by Daniel Craig in “Spectre”), Gucci, and Yves Saint Laurent, among others. Somewhat recognizable are the slightly oversized trench coats in enlarged chequers the French Céline also showed for women some seasons ago, but now for men as well. “The series of coats in woven Madras checker were inspired on when I was eighteen years old and had to wear them as a jacket. But now, I do not want this fabric to come across as preppy or ethnic.” This 106-years-old family-run business has an estimated annual revenue of one billion dollars, with ninety percent of the revenue generated abroad.

The marvelous collection of Giorgio Armani is an oasis of tranquillity, an epitome of timeless elegance, especially in a time in which the hectic fashion world is fast and transient, and in which everything that is new is fleeting so fast. As “Emperor of Soft,” Armani lives up to this nickname. Wide and loose-fitting trousers (sometimes to the knees), airy jackets with round shoulders, and costumes that are so light, they resemble pyjamas. In a powdery color palette of various blue-grey and lavender colors; everything breaths signature Armani.

It is worn by the most handsome of male models, a mix of all different races. “This is masculine lightness, with less of everything this time. We do not need that much, but what we do need is well-appointed. The materials are less synthetic, cotton mixed with silk,” Armani notes. The face of the spring campaign again is Dutch model Wouter Peelen, who had been the face of the Armani Collezioni of fall/winter 2014-2015.

One of the designers who is still in full control of his fashion empire is the eighty-one-year-old Armani. However, over 2015, his fashion house only realized a turnover increase of 3.7 percent to 2.64 billion euros. In 2014 this was still sixteen. Decreasing sales in China, political unrest and plummeting oil prices are to blame. But according to Armani, the profit margins over 2015 remained stable, as the Chinese market for luxury goods is dominated by male consumers. This Chinese consumer is still responsible for about thirty-one percent of global sales of luxury goods.



In the New Issue of Gay News, 322, June 2018

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