Carlos Campos Spring 2020

Carlos Campos didn’t show his spring 2020 during the New York Fashion Week: Men’s (NYFWM) spring 2020 season, and that was a good thing. NYFWM as it has lost much of its prestige and viability looks as though it is about to go the route of “another one bites the dust.” So perhaps, that is the reason Carlos Campos opted out of showing at NYFWM this season. Or perhaps, moving NYFWM spring 2020 season up a month to the beginning of June was just too early for Campos to get his menswear collection ready in time.

Whatever the reason, Campos made the right choice to wait to show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows (NYFWS) in September.  There are more folks attending NYFWS and, for its worth, there is still a glimmer of viability to NYFWS, unlike NYFWM. (The real reason is Carlos Campos had just had a baby and the timing was better to show in September.)

For his spring 2020 collection, Campos was inspired by the Pop-Art style of the 1980s and 90s. In particular, the boy band music—In Sync, Boys to Men, Backstreet Boys, Color Me Badd, and Duran Duran. And if you are old enough to remember two-toned bold color ensembles were the order of the day.

Campos’s bold color palette was made evident in bold turquoise and fuchsia, sometimes paired with the neutral palettes of black, khaki, and navy blue. Interestingly, this bold explosion of color was incorporated into very simple silhouettes, a design aesthetic that Campos is known for.

Images courtesy of wwd.com

What stood out most about this collection was Campos’ unique combinations of color and the way he paired these, sometimes, dissimilar color palettes with asymmetrical cuts and patterns. A fuchsia pattern on black or khaki pants could resemble an 80s fanny pack or a traditional men’s jacket could contain a bold stripe of turquoise or fuchsia.

Though this spring 2020 collection is a solid fashion flashback to the 1980s and 90s, Campos has found a way to inject his brand’s signature DNA. And that is what the industry loves about Campos. No matter the incoming trends, Campos stays true to his aesthetic. In fact, if you are familiar, you can spot a Campos garment from a distance. And that is a good thing!!

—William S. Gooch

Willy Chavarria Men’s Spring 2020

For his spring 2020 collection, Willy Chavarria tapped into the San Francisco and New York underground club scenes of the late 1980s and early 1990s. In an era where Latin machismo was front and center in underground gay culture, what has probably never been acknowledged in the fashion industry until Willy Chavarria’s spring 2020 collection was the incredible style and fashion-forward sensibility that came out of the gay Latino underground club scene.

Chavarria’s menswear is for a niche audience. And more specifically for that stylish man who is enamored with vintage looks and does not shy away from fashion that conjures up images of the late 80s and early 90s. That particular consumer will be attracted to Willy Chavarria’s spring 2020 collection.

That said; there were no groundbreaking menswear silhouettes or unfamiliar fabric choices or combinations in this outing. However, what Chavarria did accomplish was presenting the sexy masculinity of gay Latin culture of that era, and doing that with very simple, familiar silhouettes.

Though this collection was simple an unadorned in scope, there was quite a b it of charm to the clothes. The loose-fitted jeans with mesh tops and silk bombers were expertly juxtaposed against Chavarria’s choice of Latin male models.

 And though this collection demonstrated the swagger and confidence of Latino machismo, there were some slightly feminine silhouettes thrown in. In fact, the feminine touches throughout the collection did not distract from Chavarria’s design aesthetic, but interestingly added to it. Only a self-assured man can pull off feminine silhouettes with confidence and aplomb.

Images courtesy of vogue.com

Willy Chavarria’s collections appeal mostly to a niche audience. And that is not a bad thing. With menswear brands folding every season, maintaining a niche audience may be the key to market stability. And Willy just might have the key!!

—William S. Gooch

Siki Im Men’s Spring 2020

If you are familiar with Siki Im’s men’s collections, you are familiar with Siki Im’s affection for a 90s counter-culture punk design aesthetic with hints of a dystopian disorder. Previous collections include updated 90s punk looks seen through the lens of a North African design aesthetic, as well as 90s grunge married with a dystopian zombie culture. All these points of view worked for Siki Im’s niche consumer. That said; his current collection will successfully expand Im’s consumer base beyond his niche.

For spring 2020 Siki Im paired his signature design aesthetic of 90s punk/grunge with a robot perspective. Im combined this Siki Im Robot X spring 2020 collection with the brand’s Siki Im CROSS, the brand’s performance line. This melding of the two lines facilitated a more consumer-friendly collection that would have a wider appeal.

Similar to previous collections, there was lots of layering in this collection—a must for any Siki Im collection. The real revelation of this outing was Siki Im’s fabric choice. This season light wools are paired with organic linens and soft silks against voluminous silhouettes with technical details. Bungee cord details allow our wearer to play with proportions and easily mix style with the brand’s performance line.

There were also nods in this collection to East meets West, evidenced in Siki Im’s kimono-styled jackets and shirts in silk charmeuse or worsted wool with Gundam prints. And though Siki Im played around with lots of volume which was displayed in extended crouch pants, oversized sweatshirts, and layered shorts, Im expertly paired the volume of these looks with other garments that gave length and dimension.

Images courtesy of Siki Im

With this spring 2020 collection, Siki Im not only expands his consumer base but also injected some vim and vision into an otherwise milquetoast men’s fall 2020 season. Bravo!!

—William S. Gooch

David Hart Men’s Spring 2020

If there was one redeeming aspect of New York Fashion Week: Men’s (NYFWM) spring 2020 collections, it would be New York Men’s Day (NYMD). As a precursor to what eventually become NYFWM, NYMD still seems to have some relevance while NYFWM is quickly fading into oblivion.

David Hart is one of the few New York City–based menswear brands that has consistently presented his menswear collections during NYMD.  And where other menswear brands have faded by the wayside or entirely gone out of existence, David Hart is staying strong.

For spring 2020, David Hart looked to crimes scenes of the 1930s and 1940s as seen in the photography of Weegee (formerly known as Usher Fellig). Weegee documented dramatic crimes scenes and emergencies of the 30s and 40s often by following ambulances and sirens which accounted for him being the first person at the scene of the crime. Hart even had chalky outlines of bodies and caution tape to conjure images of crime scenes.

Inspired by the black and white photographs from the Weegee estate, Hart’s collection was mostly in black, grey, and white color tones with a little lapis lazuli suits thrown in for good measure. The only other bold color in this color collection were the jewel-toned Louboutin sneakers.

There were no extra frills or embellishments on David Hart’s classic 90’s boy band suits. And as well-made and well-tailored as Hart’s suits were—he never really reinvents masculine silhouettes—what stood out most were Weegee scenes of Coney Island and a sexy 40s club dance imprinted on some the shirts and bomber jackets is what stood out most in this fashion outing.

Photos courtesy of Agentry PR

One other element to take not of in this collection is Hart’s decision go more youthful which was particularly apparent in the graphic-printed bomber jacket and shirts. This spring 2020 collection is a winner; Hart keep up the good work!!

—William S. Gooch

 

 

 

 

Ka Wa Key Men’s Spring 2020

New York Men’s Day (NYMD), which was a predecessor to New York Fashion Week: Men’s (NYFWM), has always had great success presenting emerging designers to the fashion industry. With the almost demise of NYFWM, NYMD continues what it began almost six years ago, presenting emerging designers’ collections to the larger fashion community.

Ka Wa Key is a London-based fashion line that project gender fluidity into its collections. With roots in Asian and Scandinavian design aesthetics, the brand strives to work sustainability and ethical fashion into its collections, as well as centering its creativity on reworking casual wear.

For its spring 2020 menswear collection, Ka Wa Key’s “What happens in grandpa’s closet stays in grandpa’s closet” collection was a reworking of things that could have been sitting in a man’s (grandpa’s) closet for decades. These looks could be those treasured, secretive garments one would acquire from exotic locales, but were only worn at a less conservative time in one’s life. Interesting pajamas, lounge wear, faded sweaters, and deconstructed pants and tops all waiting to be reinvigorated with a fashion-forward designers’ touch. And the Ka Wa Key design team accomplished that.

There were several deconstructed sweaters and pants in this collection, original dreamy watercolor handprinted prints and knitted fabrics, all done in creamy pastels, for the most part. And in line with the signature look of the brand, there were lots of layered jackets and tops. The layered looks of this collection are a plus for Ka Wa Key, giving their consumer base lots of options.

Images courtesy of Agentry PR

Known for their “twink” projection, Ka Wa Key presented this collection on model/dancers, exhibiting the ease of movement and casual nature of the garments. Though there were some merits in this spring 2020 outing, this collection was still focused mostly on the brand’s niche audience. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

William S. Gooch

 

 

 

 

Linder Resort 2020

Linder’s resort 2020 collection was the first resort collection for the namesake brand. Adding resort to its collections of women’s and menswear is an ambitious feat for a brand that only launched in 2016. However, creative director Sam Linder was up for the challenge.

Choosing Pier 29 as the venue for the launch of the brand’s resort collection was a good choice. The outdoor deck decorated with palm fronds and wood-hewn flooring and seats set the mood for a tropical locale, even the event and guests were inundated with torrential rain. Still, the intention was in the right place.

That said; there was a strong 1970s theme in this first resort outing, with a strong color palette of lime green, blue, cream, and off-white. Sam Linder also injected tennis and a Country Club aesthetic evidenced in a color-blocked tennis shorts, Polo shirts with white piping, and a low-neck tank top.

To make the 70s references even stronger Sam Linder threw in a 70s-inspired jogging suit and runner’s shorts with side ventilation. And the jogging suit and runner’s shorts are an integral part of a definitive fashion trend of a glance back to the 70s.

Though many of the garments in this collection could fit into the athleisure wear category, this collection is so much more than that. Sam Linder has done a good job of finding what is still popular about athleisure wear—comfortable fit, ease of movement, and low clothing maintenance—and mixing in some elements of luxury.

Photos courtesy of vogue

Overall, this was a pretty good attempt at resort wear for the brand. Though it may take a couple of seasons for Sam Linder to find his oeuvre in the resort genre, he is definitely on the right path.

—William S. Gooch

Ozwald Boateng at the Apollo

The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s was one of the most revolutionary and creative eras of black history. Harlem, New York became the pinnacle of black intellectual, artistic and social movements, forever changing black culture and putting the merits of black artists on display. Needless to say, even modern-day black contributions to creative industries owe themselves to the work of those who made the Harlem Renaissance happen from Langston Hughes to Countee Cullen to Zora Neale Hurston.

The influence of this movement is still remembered today on a global scale by black creatives around the world, including fashion designer Ozwald Boateng. Boateng is best known for being the first black designer to ever have his own shop on London’s Savile Row in addition to being a former creative director of menswear for Givenchy. For the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, the designer decided to not only stage a show at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theatre, but also launch womenswear as well, which took a see-now-buy-now approach.

In April when it was announced that the designer would be doing a show based on AI, everyone assumed that he meant Artificial Intelligence. As the runway show began, it was clear that this was not an homage to the future of fashion and technology, but, rather, an ode to black arts and culture past, present, and future. In this case, AI stood for “Authentic Identity.”

Boateng, who is of Ghanaian heritage, stayed true to his identity by infusing West African design influences, including tribal prints, in his clothes while blending them with Harlem Renaissance influences. Although womenswear is new for Boateng and a big divergence from traditional Savile Row tailoring, his knowledge of textiles, color, and silhouettes were front and center throughout the collection with his cohesive approach to color and the tailoring of the women’s pieces.

Notably, the majority of the models in Boateng’s show were people of color, an approach that has been bandied about in the fashion industry where diversity and inclusion has become hot topics. And true to form, Boateng’s models reflect the sassiness and sexiness of his designs.

Boateng’s show was truly groundbreaking, not only for him as a designer launching womenswear, but also as a moment in history for Black designers, many of whom go unsung or never reach these merits of notoriety. Remember, the Harlem Renaissance is not only noteworthy for great literature and black arts explosion, but also for the great fashion that the era produced.

Images courtesy of vogue.com

Boateng’s Apollo show was a renaissance of sorts for black models, black designers, and the black fashion intelligentsia, calling for a new age of black fashion in the fashion industry (Note Edward Enninful at British Vogue, Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton, and the rise of Pyer Moss, Laquan Smith, and Romeo Hunte, all garnishing an international audience.)The beauty of black culture received the celebration it deserved, and Boateng didn’t disappoint his audience with this once in a lifetime experience. Ozwald Boateng welcome back to New York City!!

—Kristopher Fraser

Romeo Hunte Fall 2019

Diversity and inclusion have become keywords for many of the collections this season. The Fall 2019 season will exceed other seasons with respect to inclusion of models that represent ranges in size, racial and ethnic diversity, and gender fluidity.

Romeo Hunte had his own take on the fashion industry’s expansiveness by creating a fall 2019 collection that a brother and sister could exchange and wear. Hunte’s androgynous distillation also borrows heavily from New York City’s vogueing ballroom scene of the 1980s with his models prancing and vogueing down the runway, which unfortunately was a bit of distraction from the garments.

As Hunte has proven in previous collections, outerwear is his collections’ strongest point. There was a significant amount or reworked denim jackets and coats, as well as shearling, leather and some nicely worked trench coats. Some of these jackets will do very well in the retail market. Unfortunately, in this collection an androgynous design aesthetic is not Hunte’s forte.

That said; there are several garments in the collection that a woman or a guy’s female sibling could mix and match from the man’s wardrobe; however, this is not true in the reverse. I cannot imagine many male consumers wanting to borrow almost any of these clothes from their female counterparts—not even gender non-conforming types. Not because the clothes are too feminine for guys to borrow, but because, in general, the clothes are just not appealing with too many incohesive ideas going on at the same time; the one exception being the parachute-like satin coats.

Images courtesy of wwd.com

Many of the ladies’ looks in the collection look homemade without the sophistication that modern female consumers demand. That said; the menswear looks did have an element of sophistication and restraint, making the menswear more accessible.Current collection aside, Romeo Hunte is doing something that many US–based black designers—Virgil Abloh, Pyer Moss, Laquan Smith, and Cushnie—are doing; looking to international markets to solidify their consumer base. Hunte recently had a “See Now, Buy Now” fashion show in Nigeria and several of his garments sold right off the runway!! Hmm, pay attend black designers. There is gold in them hills across the Big Pond!!

—William S. Gooch

Hakan Akkaya Fall 2019

 Glam Rock is back!! If you are old enough to remember the New York Dolls, Ziggy Stardust (early 70s David Bowie), the Glitter Band, Gary Glitter, or early Elton John, you know there was time where rockers had long hair, were lots of glittery stage makeup and wore shiny, sparkly tight clothes while they sometimes sang in a falsetto or screamed loudly about love, sex, and rock n’ roll.

We cannot exactly bring that era back, as much fun as the fantasy was—remember music taste have drastically changed—but, the fashion of that era is back with a vengeance. Glam rock fashion reigned at Michael Kors, Paco Rabanne, Faith Connexion, Rick Owens fall 2019 collections, as well as Phillip Plein’s resort 2019 collection. Add to that esteemed list, Hakan Akkaya’s fall 2019 collection.

Not a stranger to New York Fashion Week, this was Hakan Akkaya’s third outing at NYFW: The Shows (NYFS). And in this fall 2019 outing, Akkaya demonstrated that he has the ability to take a retro trend and elevate it a modern distillation of style with a fashion-forward sensibility.

Though Hakan Akkaya’s fall 2019 collection is not for that timid, shrinking violet—there are lots of statement-making pieces in this collection—there were some great separates that could be easily mixed and matched for that consumer that wanted to be fashion forward, but was not looking to overwhelm.

There was lots of silver metallic and shiny black in this collection with touches of pink and other pastel colors through in to balance out the looks. There was also a range of black and white and bold-striped faux fur coats in the collection.

Still, this collection is really for the adventurous consumer who is not afraid to look like they are in a perpetual state of being in route of a rock concert or the main act. Restraint be damned, pull out all the stops and let fantasy be your guide.

Photos courtesy of The Bromley Group

And though there were some fantastic women’s looks in this collection, it was the menswear garments that might have the most retail appeal. Particularly, if that male consumer lives on the edge and is not reticent about making a statement. The women’s looks are lot more niche and perhaps are more limited in their appeal to a wider consumer base.But all that doesn’t really matter. NYFWS needs more fantasy collections like this. In a season where most collections didn’t register on the fashion Richter scale, Hakan Akkaya certainly caused fashion heartbeats to amp up.

Standout looks in the collection, and there many, includes Hakan Akkaya’s men’s silver metallic parachute coat—can you say Norma Kamali?—pewter, shoulder-padded bodysuit, men’s black velvet tuxedo jacket with quilted, silver metallic padding, silver and pewter jogging suit, and off-the-shoulder velvet jumpsuit with sequin-embellished thunderbolt.

The Blonds eat your heart out. You’ve got competition!!

—William S. Gooch

Grungy Gentleman Fall 2019

Like so many brands, Grungy Gentleman is tapping into collaborations. Grungy Gentleman’s creative director Jace Lipstein realizes that with multiple collaborations he is accomplishing a lot of task and expanding is customer base in one blow.

For its fall 2019 collection Grungy Gentleman collaborated with eight collaborators including footwear with Pony, bikes with Schwinn, bags with Footaction, hats with New Era and NBA, slides with Giza, apparel with Renzo Cardoni, Pendleton, and Clinton Hall. The depth and wealth of these collaborations produce a fall 2019 collection that was more vibrant with a stronger design aesthetic than in previous collection.

Grungy Gentleman has established itself as a men’s sportswear brand with deep roots with professional sports team. That said; this affiliation with sports teams continues with sports figures mixed into the runway show along with male models. “[Sports figures] Dave East and Styles P embody everything the Grungy brand wanted this show to be about– an ode to New York City– the grit, the grind, the inimitable style and presence of those who came up here, and the power of collaboration across different generations and categories,” said Ali Moon, talent booker for the show.

Photos courtesy of Grungy Gentleman

Creative director Jace Lipstein expanded the brand’s design aesthetic by included the wider color palette of peach and red accents. These new color accents complimented the brand’s signature aesthetic of color-blocked cotton workout gear with stripes and piping on legs and arms. Lipstein additionally found an ingenious way to incorporate plaids and denim into the brand’s design aesthetic this season.

Good job Jace; continue expanding your sportswear aesthetic!! Just a tip, next season a bit more order and less chaos at your show will serve your fans and fashion industry professionals better. Remember, fashion reviews still matter!!

—William S. Gooch

 

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