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Date 21.01.2015
Title

Preliminary conclusions: hairy features bringing down the bearded men in Milan for FW2015

With boarding for Paris beginning in a few hours, Milan Fashion Week has displayed the first credentials of what looks to be a diplomatic winter 2015. Clever negotiations seen on the runways are strategically based on targeting consumer’s budgets; fashion cannot survive solely on sweatshirts and a million different incarnations of the cheap stretch serge cigarette pants (skinny jeans or leggings) that we have been wearing for the last many years. Wider pants will soon liberate legs, and the black and white print overdoses that we have all suffered from will now go quietly into rehab… there’s a turn in menswear and with it shall be brought a higher cost for all of us. In the same way that a car’s motor reaches the end of its useful life and becomes waste, so shall happen to products. It’s time to clean out the generated waste! Recently forecasted knits and knitted coats are the new focus according to La Pasarela Milanese. They may be more expensive than a rather cheap sweatshirt (that probably has been ridiculously overpriced and produced under child labour) but ultimately the knitwear is a richer, superior product.

Within sportswear, margins of profit might be higher when producing extreme volumes in low-cost manufacturing countries, but with those quantities ending as parasites in all market segments it is not the right decoration for fashion’s reputation to keep using the same business card. The time where we won’t be able to fake style has come. Budgets – and the compartments on leather wallets – might need to be a little bigger than we are used to.

If you dare to layer three knitted pieces (and hold the right credit card of course!), start with the “dolce vita” (turtle neck). Many of the ubiquitous beards we encounter will have to be shaved if we are to see that ‘tricolore” effect (Jil Sander and BottegaVeneta). This makes a pleasing change however to the male silhouette that has been defined by clean lined garments and contrasting facial hair in recent years. Men will have to balance that hairy figure if they are to wear the combination of knits, oversized fringed scarves (Ferragamo) and neck details (Gucci) on display here. Does it also mean the end of the bearded men as street icon? Only the authentic will survive what will surely be fruitful times for the shaving industry!

Over the last few years we have also seen fashion characterized by impersonal shopping experiences, unified markets and the contradictions and impermanence of the online world. The new collections on display here tear away from this world, drifting back to a time where the romantic male would rummage through his father’s 70’s archive, reappearing in silky ruffle shirts, shrunken moth-bitten Gucci sweaters and brilliantly simple velvet ribbons. It is tactile and I love it. You first have to feel it, try it, look twice at the mirror, ask for advice and learn just as your parents once did. No one will take that education away. It will help you to properly use your seasonal budget, and make the right investments in the long term. Consume-curate clothes, the same way you buy furniture. Do not just buy, dig and alternate.

It is in this spirit of change and respect for the past that we are now seeing fashion going into conversation with mature consumers. First it was Rick Owens with his fall-winter 2014 look-book complete with the photographing of a timeless 93 year old by Rick Castro. Then Mrs Joan Didion (80) – a writer and essayist cultivated with serene intellectual style – graced Céline’s recent advertising campaign. And finally, Tisci’s take on age and style appeared in their spring-summer 2015 which featured an infinitely sensual Mr.Tony Ward (51) – and a wake-up call for all men who think there’s not so much they can do at their age! Obviously, looking gorgeous is a long-term business, no matter how old you are!

Shayne Oliver’s Hood By Air show in Florence made sure to noisily inform its young clients the following: without new ideas you won’t reach satisfaction, just follow me! The same for Burlon’s County of Milan – the line has just dared to tease with hints of metamorphosis. His next winter “poncho” declared there are more attitudes around the Patagonian gaucho (red for passion?) than we may have come to expect. More will be made out of the best wools and leathers from his native south, ultimately challenging wider minds with diversity in his family products.

As always, the January summit conference in Paris will define it all.

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