Another season of menswear fashion shows has come and gone. Buyers are busy writing orders and critics are busy writing recaps.
There are bound to be questions about the future of London Fashion Week, with only a few major brands like Martine Rose and Saul Nash showing in the British capital. Florence, Milan and Paris, on the other hand, were buzzing and bustling thanks to collections that offered refreshing twists on warm-weather wares.
There’s no question that the influence of streetwear is waning, but it remains to be seen whether more sartorially rooted fashion will take its place. The Spring 2024 collections seemed infused with a louche, loose take on menswear that was incredible — both visually and texturally.
Perhaps it’s a seasonal thing, but even the suite seemed more laid-back than expected — see Pharrell’s Chanel-inspired collarless jackets for his debut Louis Vuitton show.
Here are the trends to keep an eye on as you set about preparing your looks for Spring 2024.
Inspired by the great outdoors
Despite Business of Fashion highlighting a number of designers’ apparent fatigue with gorpcore — the trend that saw technical outerwear work its way into both mainstream and capital-F fashion — the clothes told a different story at the Spring 2024 shows. While there was less performance wear than in previous seasons, it seemed like designers were still inspired by spending time outside — or by those who did.
Take, for example, Prada, where Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons showed a range of fly fishing–inspired pieces, including pocket-covered vests and shirts embellished with floral details that resembled intricate baits. Gorpcore purists will point to brands like White Mountaineering, Snow Peak, And Wander and South2 West8 as having already paddled down that river to popularize the fishing vest, but it marks a slightly more niche reference to technical garments.
In Paris, Études and Hed Mayner both showed similar fishing-inspired outerwear, including loose-fitting vests and jackets with large pockets (at Hed Mayner, done in the brand’s trademark supersized proportions). Pharrell Williams’s aforementioned collection also made reference to technical garb, combining camouflage with the maison’s iconic damier pattern.
At Comme des Garçons Homme Plus, Kenzo and Sacai, Rei Kawakubo, Nigo and Chitose Abe each took the outdoorsy look in yet another direction, infusing their garments with leaves — a touch more discreet than florals for spring. Meanwhile, Junichi Abe, who is Chitose’s husband, showed a well-received Kolor collection that featured mountaineering accoutrements.
The Brits might call them vests, but in the name of clarity — and to avoid confusion with the above fishing vests — we’ll call the season’s standout pieces by their North American name: tank tops.
Fashion critics often pay extra attention to a collection’s first and last looks, the same way that you might remember how a great novel begins or a movie ends. And going by first looks alone — at Hermès, Botter, Etro, Homme Plissé Issey Miyake and more — tanks were worth highlighting. But they were also thoroughly worked into collections — set to become staples in men’s wardrobes rather than statement pieces.
Closing the London shows, Saul Nash’s beach-ready Spring 2024 collection featured tank tops crafted using more technical knitting than your classic white ribbed tank. A day prior, Martine Rose showed a particularly interesting black tank with an embellished neckline and armholes.
In Milan, Zegna’s collection included elegant, refined takes on the tank top rendered in earthy hues, while Jonathan Anderson (for JW Anderson) presented loose-knit tanks with flowing tails. Rick Owens offered up leather tank tops — of course — while White Mountaineering, through fabric choice, put a utilitarian spin on the garment. Celebrating his fifth year at the direction of Dior’s menswear, Kim Jones also showed tank tops done in a textured bouclé, and featuring leopard and cannage motifs.
If tanks aren’t your thing, fear not. Designers have other ways to keep you cool in the heat: perforated and loose-knit tops.
Véronique Nichanian’s Hermès show at the Palais d’Iéna in Paris contained some of the strongest examples of the trend, opening with a short-sleeved shirt made from a graphic, grid-like mesh that seemed more air than material. Other pieces include overshirts with perforated patterns across the chest and shoulders, as well as loose-knit vests.
Giorgio Armani’s eponymous collection included a pair of very loosely knit sweaters that would allow a nice summer breeze to pass through. Fendi, another Milanese powerhouse, also offered chunky knit ups tank tops (again!), while Valentino, making its return to the Milan menswear calendar, showed an intricate jacket with curving bands of fabric revealing a crisp white shirt underneath.
At Givenchy, Matthew Williams offered up some tops with large grommets — a stark, industrial contrast to the light, mesh-like vests he showed a few days earlier in Milan for 1017 ALYX 9SM. And, on the last day of Paris Fashion Week, Lazoschmidl’s beach-inspired collection featured a peach floral crochet top that might be one of the season’s “It” items.
X-ray vision for everyone
That age-old question, “If you could have one superpower, what would it be?” tends to inspire the same handful of answers: invisibility for some, teleportation for others. For fashion designers this season, the answer seems to be X-ray vision, at least judging by the way they used sheer fabrics and clever patterns to offer glimpses at the human form beneath garments.
Some brands do this by cutting away fabric — offering cold shoulders, arms and torsos for all to see. Fendi sliced off the sleeves, while Comme des Garçons Shirt did away with the torso of an anorak. Ludovic de Saint Sernin — always one to show lots of skin — showed shirts with sleeves and not much else, while the Parisian fellow upstart Egonlab cut shirts high and pants low, laid navels, and removed, well, the breast portion of a double-breasted jacket.
Others used sheer fabrics that showcased not only bodies but resourcefulness — to source fine materials and the skills needed to transform them into wearable garments. Across the aesthetics and cities, the likes of Hermès, Dries Van Noten, Rick Owens, Lazoschmidl and Wooyoungmi all explored the idea of transparency on jackets, shirts, undershirts and even bags.
Perhaps nobody hit the nail on the head more so than Walter Van Beirendonck, whose see-through jackets, trousers and coveralls didn’t cover much. The show closed with a model wearing what could best be described as a plastic bag with a skeleton painted on it.
Why the sudden fascination with the body under the clothes? Perhaps it’s a riposte to the recent shift toward tailored, structured clothing that hews closely to traditional menswear — sartorial puritanism, if you will. This is corporeal liberation.
Just Do It Yourself
Brands are in the business of selling us clothes. And yet one could be forgiven for coming away from the Spring 2024 collections with the impression that we may as well transform our own garments. Instagram and TikTok point to the trend’s increasing popularity, with videos of someone cutting up a pair of famous sneakers or drawing on an expensive shirt going viral.
The avant-garde Japanese label Doublet presented a collection with plenty of frayed hems, which might encourage people to take a pair of scissors to their denim jackets or jeans. Pops of color that looked to be spray-painted on hoodies at Comme des Garçons Shirt may send people to their local hardware store to elevate their basics. Elegantly pinched and pinned shirts and sweaters at Feng Chen Wang and twisted shoulders at Wooyoungmi inspired one to imagine new ways to add texture to garments — rolling a sleeve up through the neck, perhaps, or using a hair clip to turn the extra fabric at the bottom of a T-shirt into something interesting.
These looks should serve as a reminder that style isn’t about how much your clothes cost but what they say about you — whether it’s something that someone else made for you or something that you made.