For many men, fashion trends are something to be approached with caution. Women can take up and throw off a trend as the mood takes them. But as much as they may want to look current, most men really want their clothes to be simple, functional - sensible, even.
Brown Thomas has a long-established offering in suiting, as well as high fashion - bolstered this season by, among other new labels, the addition of Stella McCartney's new men's line. Currently though, athleisure is the big story in menswear, and, as illustrated on our pages today, Brown Thomas is proving that this is a trend that translates easily to men's wardrobes.
Unlike in womenswear, where athleisure can largely mean wearing gym leggings and neon trainers anywhere, for men, the trend is more about a simple, relaxed aesthetic penetrating all aspects of one's wardrobe. While Nike and adidas are now on Brown Thomas's main fashion floor, the athleisure trend isn't about gym wear. "It should separate you from the guys who are going to exercise," says Stephen Burnett, menswear buying manager at Brown Thomas. "If you're buying right, you can wear this [trend] and not look like you're on the way to the gym."
For the younger customer - driven by social media, and Kanye West's latest looks (his stock rarely reaches the Brown Thomas shop floor, such is the demand) - this means labels like Off-White; Kanye's collaboration with adidas; McQ; and Kenzo. Labels that sell out within days, says Stephen.
For the less trend-driven, older customer, labels like Stone Island, Canada Goose and Moncler are a way into the athleisure trend, while also providing the sort of design-led, functional clothes that men love anyway.
And while it's generally considered a down-time look, athleisure is seeping into all aspects of a man's life. "The definition of the working wardrobe has definitely softened," says Stephen.
Like all good menswear, this trend is essentially a take on a classic: sportswear. David Beckham's rebooted heritage brand Kent & Curwen, another label new to the store, is the same idea; a modern take on British heritage.
In more formal wear, the tyranny of the skinny silhouette is over. "In suiting, the trend at the moment is certainly towards looser [styles]," reflects Stephen. It's an exciting time to be a buyer in menswear. "Certainly the knowledge is there," says Stephen of his clients, who, thanks to social media, have never been so informed; or so hungry for up-to-the-minute fashion hits.
"They're a discerning customer at the moment, which is good," he says. "We're constantly having to think on our feet to keep them interested. So our buying season has changed a little bit. There's a whole new level where we're running around Paris and Milan trying to find the next hottest brand."
Photography by Michael Dwornik
Styling by Way Perry
Words by Liadan Hynes
Fashion edited by Constance Harris
Sunday Indo Life Magazine