Reconstruct Men’s Spring 2019

Suiting up was once the classic standard for gentleman, but now it’s all about sporting up. The five women of Amsterdam-based Reconstruct Collective found the fusion between avant-grade and sportswear for their spring/summer 2019 collection, creating a sporty collection very much for the new age.

The opening look included two models walking hand-in-hand in a black Siamese twin shirt, black shorts, sneakers, and glitter sunglasses. The theme of the collection was retrograde orbit, and this look was something from another world almost, as it was based on a fictional planet the designers imagined called Planet Re-4. Technical details were all key here.

The designers reconstructed sporty pieces, like tank tops that were decorated with the Re-4 logo, and nylon pants were bedazzled with extra drawstrings. Nylon panels were fused on wide leg pants for a futuristic effect and cropped hoodies were deconstructed to be reconstructed giving a type of “Mad Max” and “Star Wars” effect. Waistbands also featured the Reconstruct logo, tapping into the trend of logo embellishment.

It was very difficult to know what to expect next, but the overall collection was cohesive. The sense of neo-futurism permeated throughout the collection with shiny grey fabric choices, reminiscent of space suits. Though the silhouettes were non-traditional, the designers used the unfamiliar silhouettes as truly an exercise in where they could go next. While the color palette included grey, silver, blue, there were additional color palettes that included pink, blue, and orange, with the orange garments being reminiscent of NASA astronaut suits.

On trend and in the spirit of futurism, many of the designs looked genderless. While the idea of genderless fashion is just in its infancy, reconstructed nylon jackets, wide leg trousers, and space age outerwear spoke to gender fluidity. On Planet Re-4 it is all just clothes.

                                    Images courtesy of Dan Ashby/Firstview

To the cheers of the crowd, Reconstruct’s New York Fashion Week: Men’s debut proved to be a success. This was far from a typical fashion show, but a refreshing turn in a new direction for something that hadn’t been seen before at NYFWM. Where will the collective take us next?—Kristopher Fraser

Head of State Men’s Spring 2019

Head of State designer Taofeek Abijako’s latest collection for his brand was inspired by Afro-futurism that is influenced by 70s funk band Parliament, the American funk music collective of rotating musicians headed by George Clinton, and Sun Ra, the American jazz composer. Abijako also added elements of West African youth culture thrown in for good measure.

Although Parliament was known for their outlandish approach to fashion, which ranged from everything including rhinestone embellished cat suits to embroidered cowboy pants, Abijako found a way to take that love for over-the-top fashion and tone it done for his spring 2019. An orange two-piece ensemble with black paneling had an oversized pocket on the pant to make a subtle statement. A green vertical stripe shirt, which was very reminiscent of Parliament’s 70s stage costumes, was paired with lilac shorts. While the design aesthetic was easily approachable, the colors were certainly 70s Parliament inspired.

The Sun Ra references came through with regal garments, such as the opening look of a white novelty long sleeve shirt and linen wide leg pants. The addition of a turban was an homage to Sun Ra, given that Sun Ra was known for his many headdresses.

                                      Images courtesy of Head of State

Abijako also found inspiration from one of his idols, Nigerian multi-instrumentalist Fela Kuti. Kuti was known for using fashion as a form of protest, and refused to conform to the idea of the traditional gentleman. He also wasn’t afraid of approaching color at a time when men’s fashion choices were much more traditional. The striped cotton notch lapel jacket and striped cotton straight pants both in white, blue, and light plum stripe would have been very fitting for Kuti’s tastes. Kuti still inspires West African youth of today with his eccentric approach to style and love of bright colors and patterns.There was another important message here in this collection. To project forward, sometimes you have to pull from the past. It was through the iconography, style, and images of many black icons that Abijako was able to create his fashion utopia of Afro-futurism. Between the homage to Black musicians and his use of mostly black models, Head of State was black excellence at its fashion finest.

—Kristopher Fraser

Wood House Army Men’s Spring 2019

Atten-hut! Wood House Army is on the scene, and they demand your attention!

A former U.S. Army officer, designer Julian Woodhouse is accustomed to being a leader and affecting change. As a young man coming into his own in South Korea, he carefully cultivated his own sense of style, but was often disappointed in the scarce menswear options. Finding more inspiration in womenswear, he teamed with a local independent pattern maker in Dongducheon, South Korea and started creating custom garments of his own. Over time, the duo continuously crafted new designs that evolved into Wood House Army’s first show for the Seoul Fashion Week fall 2015 season.

A year later, Julian and his husband/muse/creative partner Kirill Kabachenko showed their fall 2016 collection at Pier 59 Studios in NYC. This season, showing their eighth collection, the duo demonstrates strong design growth. But they also show a noticeably strong sense of self by not veering too far from their established brand aesthetic, but instead offer customers another layer of Asian-inspired design.

This season, Wood House Army skillfully evokes the visual concept of athleisure. The clothes themselves don’t necessarily scream workout gear, but through one lens, you see jackets and pants from BMX motosports. Through another lens, you get a feeling of Muay Thai boxing shorts. Through a third lens, you see garments for a post-surf stroll on the beach.

As mentioned earlier, the Asian motif is central to the brand. The vibrant colors of blues, reds, and burnt orange are grounded by crisp whites and prints in black and sand. The rising phoenix prints certainly evoke an Eastern feel, but that feeling is taken to the next level with Mandarin characters emblazoned across their silk shorts (this is their first time using silk and another nod to Asian culture). On a deeper level, relaxing mantras, such as “calm,” “balance”, and “light” are featured on other garments.

                                     Images courtesy of Wood House Army

Wood House Army began as a way to fill the sartorial gap between what was seen as exciting womenswear and meager menswear. Julian and Kirill are not meeting, but exceeding, expectations. With this being their first actual runway show, they have demonstrated that they can vacillate between seasons, fabrications, and aesthetics. They are on an upward trajectory with no signs of stopping.—Carl Ayers

Feng Chen Wang Men’s Spring 2019

Feng Chen Wang’s men’s spring 2019 is an editors and stylist’s dream. For the most part, the men’s spring 2019 collections were lackluster, with so many brands attempting to stay relevant by presenting collections that were extremely consumer friendly with very little panache and charm.

There were a few exceptions—Nick Graham, Romeo Hunte, Alessandro Tricone, Carlos Campos, and DYNE. Not surprisingly, Feng Chen Wang continues to push the proverbial fashion envelope for menswear. This season, Wang was inspired by the other half. The other half being one’s other half or the other half of a career or is the other half something else.

This other half reference was made evident in garments that exposed half of a shoulder or half of the body. This was particularly effective in shirts and outerwear.

Half was Feng Chen Wang’s word of the season, appearing in text on baseball caps, but in less literal ways too—throughout the collection, two items of clothing merge to become one. Shirts are draped on top of one another, while jackets, created as part of Wang’s ongoing collaboration with Levi’s, are layered too. Jeans have additional legs melded to them and the shoes—an iteration of Converse’s iconic Chuck Taylor All Star—see two pairs cut up and spliced together.

There was also the introduction of the micro-short shorts for men, an interesting expansion. Super short shorts for men hasn’t appeared in fashion since the `80s. And though this was a surprising addition in this collection, Wang pulled it off with characteristic fashionable aplomb.

These designs are accompanied by some new additions to Wang’s oeuvre, such as suits and shirts, in addition to new outerwear styles, such as trench coats and tee shirts with panel details. Bags and jewelry take the form of hands, some holding hands—a universal signifier of connection—while a sculpture constructed from multiple hands stands erect in the center of the show space. Spring 2019 also sees the introduction of the Feng Chen Wang women.

This season, Wang was particularly inspired by diagrams mapping the increase and decrease in temperature throughout the human body as we experience different emotions. While love warms us all over, depression cools us, and anger ignites our head, upper chest and arms. Wang explores this phenomenon through PVC body pieces that refer to different emotions and the area they heat, and in hyper-color—style coats that also serve to illustrate this effect.

                                  Images courtesy of Gerardo Somoza/Purple PR

Alongside neutral tones, black, white and grey, crystal-­inspired shades of hot pink and cool blue flow throughout the collection, symbolizing love and hate, happiness and sadness, day and night, summer and winter. It is the Feng Chen Wang yin and yang.—William S. Gooch

Ricardo Seco Men’s Spring 2019

The devil is in the details, or in this case the divinity is in the details. For his spring/summer 2019 collection, Ricardo Seco looked to his home country of Mexico for inspiration, as he traditionally has, but this time he dug a little deeper than obvious Mexican references. The 1968 Summer Olympics was the source of inspiration for Seco’s spring 2019 men’s collection evidenced by the shorts and bright-patterned leggings which conjured up images of color themes and design aesthetics of the `68 Summer Olympics.

This collection was Seco’s perspective on competitive sportswear as a modern fashion choice. With its maximalist approach and luxury athleisure aesthetic, Seco’s spring 2019 collection reflects fashion’s current penchant for luxury streetwear. Seco also drew inspiration from the Mexican creatives that had a big influence of the `68 Olympics that took place in Mexico City.

Architect Pedro Ramirez Vásquez who brought together Eduardo Terrazas of New York, Pratt Institute grad Lance Wyman, and Peter Murdoch drew inspiration from Mexico’s indigenous Huichol thread craft culture to create the images and designs of the 1968 Olympics, bridging the gap between traditional and modern Mexico. The indigenous Huichol culture would be the inspiration for Seco’s 2015 Dreams collection, from which this spring 2019 collection was also built.

Variations of the Huichol culture appeared on t-shirts and bombers in black and white. The repetitions of stripes and optical illusions were an essential part of this collection. While the collection was modern, Seco worked to ensure that every garment was imbued with his Mexican roots. Huichol’s textile culture is often known for its brightly colored patterns, which was reflective in Seco’s color palette of black, white, green, red, and pink.

50 years ago, Vásquez, Terrazas, and Wyman came together to create the “La Ruta de la Amistad,” which still exist today. The sculptures, like Seco’s spring 2018 collection, are representative of the Mexican diaspora.

                                   Images courtesy of Paula Rosado PR

Today’s modern fashion man has an awareness of the world. He isn’t insular, he isn’t afraid of color, and he can go from sport to street with ease. And Ricardo Seco’s spring 2019 collection aptly reflected that fluidity.—Kristopher Fraser

David Hart Men’s Spring 2019

In his spring 2019 collection, David Hart proves that everything old is new again. Looking to the menswear from the early 1970s, David Hart created a collection that was heavily influenced by that era of men’s fashion seen through a modern lens of what would appeal to American male consumers.

Hart’s love affair with early 70s was made evident in wider pant legs, large jacket lapels, and sport coats that used more luxurious, brocaded fabrications. Perhaps, Hart was influenced by some of the menswear trends he saw during men’s fashion weeks in London, Milan, and Paris where some menswear designer opted out of the street wear craze in favor of softer tailoring using more luxurious fabrics.

Hart, has always been known for his suiting with many of his collections being inspired by references to great men’s suiting styles of the 20th Century—the Miami nightlife scene of the late 50s, the Havana 60s nightclub scene, and the 50s Beatnik scene which was influenced by French new wave cinema. That said; this current alternative European menswear scene with a concentration on softer tailoring fits perfectly into Hart’s design point of view.

Thinking about what men were wearing during the Watergate crisis, Hart relied heavily on patterned suits with wide lapels, colorful knit polo shirts, and suede boots in this outing. And though this collection did somewhat appear as an homage to the early 70s suiting styles, Hart did modernize this collection by adding in colored patterns and bold color combinations that even the most fashionable man of the early 70s would not dare sport.

With masculine norms relaxing, Hart can find an audience for the bold patterns and color palettes used in this collection. However, modern male consumers don’t often like to look back at fashion, unless a retrospective style assemblage has something new to say. Unfortunately, Hart’s spring 2019 collection, though bold in its color choices, does not speak a new language to modern male consumers. And that is the one drawback to this collection.

                                  Images courtesy of David Hart/Agentry PR

Still, a lot of can said for Hart’s fine tailoring technique and his love affair with suiting, no matter the era. In that respect, this collection is a winner!!—William S. Gooch

Nick Graham Men’s Spring 2019

Nick Graham always puts on a good show. Whether it is a runway show that pays homage to tropical birds, hot Havana nights, Apollo 13 or a host of other reference points, Nick Graham every season finds a way to show his signature sporty suits in the best light, as well as entertain the audience.

And that is a good thing!! Particularly in a spring 2019 season that was short on great menswear collections.

Because of the defection of so many American menswear brands from the New York Fashion Week: Men’s (NYFWM) season—Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, John Varvatos, Calvin Klein, Perry Ellis, and others have jumped ship—NYFWM is trying to survive on emerging menswear designers and the occasional off-shore menswear brand that is trying to get traction in the US.

Nick Graham has stayed true to his American customer and his niche of sporty men’s suits. He has always stayed loyal to NYFWM. Still, Graham recognizes that his penchant for great sports suiting is not enough, particularly, for younger male consumers. And he did something about that this season.

Inspired by the year 1969, Graham sought to draw from iconic moments that happened in that year. “1969 was one of most transformational years in our history, a year that had not only the first landing on the Moon by Apollo 11 and hosted Woodstock, both pretty pivotal events in our culture.” Graham explained.

Graham gave references to astronauts, hippy flower children as expressed in his Woodstock reference, and laid-back, late 1960s Los Angeles style. And true to form, Nick Graham made all these 1969 references somehow work for his design aesthetic.

Interestingly, Graham also found an ingenious way of tying in 60s cultural references with fashion trends that are now popular. Logo embellishment is huge right now and Graham incorporated logos into this collection with his brand name emblazoned on hoodies and sweatshirts, still, not garish, but tastefully done.

To much industry fanfare, the street wear aesthetic has been embraced by most of the men’s European luxury houses for spring 2019. Again, Graham brilliantly tapped into this trend by marrying sports jackets with hoodies, classic sneakers, and jogging pants.

                                                   Images courtesy of wwd.com

By pairing his signature look with the continuing trends of logo embellishment and street wear; Graham is proving that he knows how to gallop with the big boys. And if he continues on this current trajectory, he may surpass them.—William S. Gooch

DYNE Men’s Spring 2019

DYNE creative director Christopher Bevans looked to the future and the rugged terrain of the Pacific Northwest for inspiration for his spring 2019 collection. “Paying homage to the beautiful yet rugged landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, DYNE’s connection is not only to the modern technological world but also to the natural world in which we all must coexist,” said Creative Director Christopher Bevans.

For the past several years, Bevans has established DYNE as a men’s street wear brand that relays heavily on an urban aesthetic paired with European luxury fabrics from Switzerland and Italy. This season was no exception in that respect. What was more obvious in this spring 2019 collection is that Bevans has finally found his groove, designing a collection that not only espouses an ever-evolving street wear aesthetic, but also is commercially sound without losing its edge or design point of view.

Unlike some previous collections, with the right marketing, this spring 2019 collection could appeal to a much wider demographic. And though this collection is solidly placed in the Generation X and millennial market, there were some pieces in this collection that could appeal to male consumers that are a bit older; particularly several outerwear garments.

Other key elements in this collection include a blend of luxury color-blocked cross functional pieces, cargo utility pants with bonded reflective overlay details, and embedded NFC chips within the garments for an accelerated checkout experience. The color palette was a mix of bright poppy red, maritime blue, charcoal and sleek onyx on silhouettes that were futuristic, yet functional. The collection also featured up-cycled synthetic materials, which are more sustainable than newly produced synthetics.

                                       Images courtesy of Christopher Callaway

This dystopian-projected, active wear was sponsored by partnership with Google Cloud and Bemis Associates. And Chika Chan of Make-up Pro and Joseph Dimaggio for Davines North America made the dystopian projection evident with makeup effects that help forward the futuristic nomadic inspiration.—William S. Gooch

Carlos Campos Men’s Spring 2019

DNA is the building blocks of our genetic makeup. The fundamental element of who we become. For spring 2019, Carlos Campos returned to his brand DNA to display the growth and strength of his eponymous line.

This collection brings Campos’ design aesthetic full circle. Often, he has looked outward to artists that marked different time periods with their style. For spring 2019, Campos turned his lens inward and focused on the brands’ aesthetic of contemporary tailoring, graphic elements, and architectural design with a Latin twist.

For this season, Campos stuck with a rigid, yet vibrant, four-color scheme of cream, Amarillo yellow, pale sienna, and deep navy blue. Building from his fall 2018 collection, Campos exercised his design expertise by emphasizing geometric color blocking accented by stripes and piping details. He also stayed within a narrow range of fabrications, opting to focus on sateen woven shirts and gabardine wool coats and trousers.

Visually, the collection seemingly displays inspiration from a variety of Latin influences. A few shirts have a Western-element, alluding to the cowboys of northern Mexico and southwestern United States. The tailored suiting evokes thoughts of fine dressing in Medellin or Panama City. The bombers and sports jackets harken the urban fashion aesthetic of Brazil.

                                                 Images courtesy of Carlos Campos

Carlos Campos is a Honduran-born designer who launched his eponymous line in 2007. After studying at Fashion Institute of Technology, he worked for Zara and PVH, and on Broadway productions of “Jersey Boys,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “The Graduate.” He is also the recipient of the Fashion Group International’s Rising Star award for menswear and was a finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.—Carl Ayers

Missoni Men’s Spring 2019

Looking back to previous decades as inspiration for new fashion collections is common practice for fashion brands/designers/creative directors. A few years back punk fashion was all the rage and no brand did it better that year than Versace. (Though it was an updated look at punk seen through the lens of sensuality and hot lava passion.) And last season it was all about a revitalized look at 1980s street style. We are talking about an updated look at tracksuits, classic high top sneakers, and round-the-way girl glam. Virgil Abloh of Off White set the standard for this 80s glance back.

For spring 2019 Missoni takes a reflective look at Paris-Dakar rally of 1979. This rally was the initial event for what has become one of the premier world motorcycle competitions. The course takes competitors from Paris to the capital city of Dakar, Senegal. The 1979 competition was one by Cyril Neveu, driving a Yamaha motorcycle.

Missoni in their men’s spring 2019 conjured up images or motor cross racing across cultures as was evidenced in 1979 Paris-Dakar rally were competitors raced across the European land mass and the North African and West African cultures. This season’s color palettes move from verdant fields to golden deserts as reflections of alternating landscapes and memories, while the overall collection reveals a worn and weathered patina. And we all know no one mixes color palettes better than Missioni.

Sandstone and electric citrine color palettes stream through expanses of olive green, medallion gold and lac-rose red. Racing yellow and bleu de France cut across stretches of midnight blue, bright green and cerulean. Cascades of multi-colored space-dyes emerge as illuminating storms of colors and as moments of celebration.

Layered silhouettes reflect a contrast of extreme proportions and an amalgamation of the Missoni Man’s transformative journey. Softly tailored double-breasted suits in lightweight loom-knit fabrics give way to slightly more disheveled, put-together looks that take on a more ethnic vibe and styling; mixing and matching elongated intimo pieces with oversized shawl-collar cardigans, polos and V-necks, field jackets and nylon pullovers, cutaway collar or pajama shirts and relaxed linen trousers or cargo shorts.

                                              Images courtesy of C&M Media

And though this collection is a look back to the late 1970s men’s style silhouettes of cardigan sweaters, polo shirts and linen trousers, there was much in this men’s spring 2019 collection that exhibited Missoni’s genius at repurposing vintage looks for the modern palette. Which is a hard thing to do in that most of Missoni’s youthful consumer base was not even born when the Paris-Dakar rally took place or is familiar with late 70s style. Still, Missoni made work and made it work, brilliantly.—William S. Gooch

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