Kenneth Nicholson Fall 2020

One thing that emerging designers need to understand and acknowledge when presenting collection on a big international fashion stage: nothing should distract from your collection. Whether any theatrics, voiceovers, even over exuberant models. The most important element of any fashion show are the garments. Without the garments or garments as the focus of the fashion show or presentation, a fashion show is just another theatrical presentation/art installation or Instagram moment.

Unfortunately, Kenneth Nicholson constructed his fall 2020 show with the focus on the theatrics of his presentation which was far removed from his actual collection. Themed around his grandmother’s couch—referencing special moments shared with his grandmother—Nicholson’s fall 2020 show opened with two pugilists’ bodies painted in gold and sparkly black, simulating boxing moves in the middle of the runway. That is where the pugilists began and that is also where they stayed throughout the run of the show with models walking around them.

Nicholson also employed liturgical voiceovers of Reverend Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign mixed in with music from “The Wiz,” and a collage of iconic R&B and church music. Perhaps, all these influences gave voice to Nicholson’s homage to his grandmother, but for the audience it was a huge distraction.

The collection, though incohesive and disjointed, did have some eye-catching elements; particularly, Nicholson’s kelly green trench and some of the men’s wide-legged trousers. Nicholson is talented and his approach could be funneled into an interesting perspective on gender fluidity. However, he has yet to learn how to put a show together for a sophisticated New York audience. (And better models would’ve have been an additional plus.)

Images courtesy of The Hinton Group

Nicholson should let his design aesthetic and point of view speak for itself minus the over-the-top Instagram moments. The potential is clear, and that inchoate talent should be his focus, not fleeting social media moments.

—William S. Gooch

Grungy Gentleman Fall 2020

New York Fashion Week: Mens (NYFWM) is now a sad reflection of what it aspired to be. Originally, it was launched to lure back well-known menswear brands—John Varvatos, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Y3, and others—back to the US fashion week market. Initially, it was successful, but it didn’t take long for NYFWM to lose steam and now it is just a shadow of what it could have been, but never was.

Though NYFWM is a shadow of what it was, there are some menswear brands that continue to present during NYFWM. Grungy Gentleman—in its 12th season—is one such brand.

Grungy Gentleman’s creative director Jace Epstein continues to soldier on, making NYFWM one of the highlights of its season. Very little has changed with the brand since its inception. Always catering to sports-centered male consumers, Epstein, season after season attempts some unique design aesthetic into what is mostly jogging suits, hoodies and workout gear.

This season Epstein combined his sportwear aesthetic with leopard print and geometric shapes. Grungy Gentleman’s signature athletic stripes were front and center in this collection, ingeniously placed on sleeves, trouser legs, and jacket exteriors.

Images courtesy of Karyzma Agency

Though Epstein came up with some interesting fabric combinations and patterns this season, which helped elevate the collection beyond typical men’s athleisure wear, the collection as a whole is mostly athletic wear in very familiar silhouettes. But, athleisure wear for the very stylish male.

—William S. Gooch

Todd Snyder Fall 2020

When people think of places that inspire fashion, Maine probably isn’t one of the first places that comes to mind. However, for his fall 2020 runway show Todd Snyder looked to Maine to inspire his latest collection which was a mix of outdoor chic and downtown New York City cool. Todd Snyder is known for his modern American take on menswear, an idea that he has adapted to various aesthetics ranging from sporty to street. This time Snyder took on the outdoors.

The collection featured modern Balmacaan overcoats, Harris tweed sack jackets, and nylon down puffer vests. The thought of pairing a corduroy suit with a sleeveless puffer jacket might sound a little outrageous, but it was this juxtaposition that Snyder used to make a statement. While the nature trail guy and the cosmopolitan city guy may not think they have much in common, there can be a crossover and intersectionality. So much of American fashion grew out of utilitarian needs, and while a puffer jacket is needed for protection from the weather, a corduroy suit is both winter appropriate and meets the formal guidelines of suiting up.

The brand’s classic pieces also took a trek into unchartered territory by mixing high-tech fabrications with off-the grid aesthetics. Merino thermal sweaters in blaze orange and neon were paired with tailored suiting and duck camouflage. Buffalo check, which typically has a rustic feel, was given a style centric overhaul when paired with yellow corduroy trousers and a shearling-lined aviator hat.

Luxury and the outdoors have rarely been synonymous, but there is more opportunity for those two to intertwine than is obvious, which is what this collection proffered. Merino wool, the finest wool next to cashmere, is both a fashion forward and cold weather aiding material. Shearling is considered a quintessential luxury. Wool trousers are a staple and can be worn to the office or walking through Maine on a winter day.

Images courtesy of vogue.com

Todd Snyder also took a very democratized approach to fashion with a 40-piece capsule collection with L.L. Bean, fitting for a collection that was inspired by Maine L.L. Bean was founding base. Todd Snyder did his own take on L.L. Bean’s best-known styles including oil cloth Bean Boots, chamois shirting and sweaters in duck print, hand-knit Cowichan logo sweaters, and outerwear in L.L. Bean’s signature plaid. It was outdoor tradition with a city boy touch.

Kristopher Fraser

David Hart Fall 2020

David Hart has consistently created menswear collections that are accessible and speak to how American male consumers want to dress. Whether he is drawing inspiration from Miami’s nightlife of the 1950s or the American Southwest or last season’s early 70s—which is having resurgence in Hollywood. Did anyone see “Dolemite” or “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”?—Hart’s menswear point of view is always on the pulse of how the American male consumer wants to dress and celebrates masculinity.

Which is why it is unfortunate that he is not getting more industry recognition and press. Still, David Hart soldiers on, always coming up with a re-interpretation of American classics. And his re-imagining American menswear is what he is really good at.

For his fall 2020 collection, Hart looked to Maurizio Cattelan, an Italian surrealist artist, who creates satirical works are based on things and images who all know and sometimes love—Pinocchio, the Pope, Adolf Hitler. Hart took this satirical and absurdist expression and funneled it through American classic menswear.

In this collection, Hart re-interprets a Western shirt, a pilot jacket, and tweed blazers, coats, and capes, leather jackets, and cardigan sweaters in a way that conjures up images of bygone eras, but also in ways that are attractive to current consumers. Hart’s relaxed way of dressing the American male consumers is based on Hart’s acknowledgment of the American male’s need for stylish comfort paired with a particular desire for masculine charm. Now that desire for masculine charm has evolved over time to include floral embellishments and some feminine silhouettes approached with a masculine sensibility. Still, an American masculine sensibility has evolved to include myriad points of view, and Hart ingeniously injects a significant amount of these perspectives successfully in this collection.

Images courtesy of vogue.com

There is almost something for every man in this collection. Whether that guy is looking for a stylish suit, relaxed, casual sportswear or a collegiate-inspired garment, it is all here. Which is surprisingly in that this collection contains only 11 looks.

David Hart can check off another winner collection this season. And with some many wins, the time is ripe for market dominance!!

—William S. Gooch

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

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