This Spring/Summer New York Fashion Week appeared to be a time of transition for many of America’s most talked about menswear labels. For a select few, this meant moving from boutique label to international brand. The ones doing it right moved beyond gimmick and expectations into full-on artistry with remarkable vision. For some that meant lightening things up with a pair of silk jogging pants, while others found success by tapping into a larger fan base. In a handful of unfortunate instances, Spring/Summer 2015 meant lying flat and giving audiences more of the same, this tactic delivered less promising returns, with Hood By Air staging its least ambitious runway show to coincide with its least ambitious collection yet; even heavy fan-favorite Mark McNairy’s witty, tongue-in-cheek t-shirts weren’t enough to offset his lackadaisical collection.
Labels that dominated the American runways just a few short years ago appeared scattershot: Michael Bastian didn’t show at all; Todd Snyder is busy building a sweatpants empire; and trad-heroes Ovadia and Sons brought their vintage-inspired collection into the present day. America’s reputation as the home of the most wearable fashion is still firmly in tact, and below we’ve highlighted our five favorite men's collections from this year’s Spring/Summer NYFW.
Siki Im is hard to pin down. Just a year ago, as his brand was beginning to gain steam, Siki Im presented an "In Cold Blood" meets "Crime and Punishment" collection that was pure mood, with hardly a deviation in the actual clothing from one look to the next. That collection, which is in stores now, is about as far a cry as possible from this season’s offerings. For most designers, having success with a certain theme or look early on is a signal to keep doing just that: to refine, refine, refine. Siki Im, on the other hand, followed up his previous efforts with a show full of deconstructed silhouettes, unique forms, and exploded colors - sometimes all at once, with nary a sight of the raw minimalism that newer fans might have expected. And yet, it all seemed to work - at least in the abstract.
The Kanye-esque tie dye that ran through the collection left hints of a bright, youthful energy with which Im's past collections didn’t concern themselves. While the asymmetrically cut overcoats, layered over aggressively flared pants only re-enforced that notion of youthful exuberance, as if there were so much to do, so much to design, that Im couldn’t help but throw it all together at once. There might have only been a handful of truly wearable items of clothing included (the overcoats come to mind), but that's less important here. This show, for this season, announced Siki Im as more than a proficient designer, but one with a true vision. It’s for this reason that Im looks to be included in that small handful of designers on the forefront of the American avant-garde, standing aside longtime torch-bearers Duckie Brown and their ilk.
Tim Coppens continues to present thought-provoking menswear shows, and if his recent acknowledgements (think: the 2012 Ecco Domani Award for “Best New Menswear Designer”, the 2011 Fashion Group International Rising Star of the Year, a Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund finalist position, a top 10 finalist spot for the LVMH Prize and the 2014 CFDA Swarovski Award for Menswear) are anything to go by, he is absolutely not to be over-looked. For S/S 2015, Coppens channeled his typically just-slightly-futuristic look to remarkable, and remarkably wearable, results.
Amid the loaded bomber jackets - a must for any designer who wants to be taken seriously by the internet in 2014 - and technical, zipper-ladden outerwear (a Coppens trademark), an unmistakably progressive feeling permeated the entire collection, likely due to the eye-catching pattern utilized throughout the latter half of the collection. The green, blue, and red pattern was used on quite literally everything - from pants to suits to outerwear, all to excellent effect. From afar it could have been the colored fuzz briefly seen between TV stations, or flying through outer space perhaps - but something out of a science fiction movie for sure. In other instances, the color was drained and it slightly resembled a zebra, had its stripes been electronically scrambled. Earlier in the presentation a rich, deep blue laid over jet black led to just as exciting, if not colorful, results. Taken together, the collection wore its techno-derived influences on its sleeve (or sleeves, as it were) and, like individual pieces throughout, screamed forward, into the future with no time to waste.
Patrik Ervell is such a master of the type of refined minimalism that is synonymous with his label that even a small amount of experimentation can lead to dramatic results. For S/S 2015, Ervell reigned in some of his own peculiar tactics while exploring new territory. There were no “dad jeans” present or high fashion Birkenstocks in sight; in fact, it appeared as if Ervell had altogether tired of carrying the “normcore” mantel that has been thrust upon him this past year. What was left was Ervell at his most basic and pure.
Outerwear not-so-serreptitously inspired by the heyday of outfitters like Patagonia and North Face remained in his arsenal, rendered in a lightweight nylon perfect for Spring. In addition to his consistently popular retro-inspired pullovers, Ervell showed a new side to his outerwear; namely, a string of overcoats in a variety of bold colors that will have longtime Stutterheim customers reaching for their wallets come this time next year.
The overcoats didn’t manage to steal the show entirely, however; that privilege belongs to Ervell’s shorts. Cut with more volume and extending to just below the bottom of the knee, these were the unsung hero of the presentation. Ervell, no doubt aware of this, sent them down the runway in a synthetic-looking khaki, a blue silk with an almost overwhelming sheen, and a matte black which gave the appearance of low-slung basketball shorts. In each instance, the shorts (of all things!) transformed the look from above-average fashion fare into something truly Ervell-ian, which is, after all, what makes Patrik Ervell’s shows worth getting excited for; his mastery of the mundane - the ability to turn a staid club collar shirt into a must-have item or turning relaxed fit, stonewashed jeans into one of 2014’s biggest trends. But for all his embrace of the normal and minimal, Ervell seems to be having a bit of fun, too. Evidenced most obviously this season by the high-sheen jogging pants dotted throughout the show; a surprising move no doubt, as streetwear-based trends don’t typically come to mind when thinking of Patrik Ervell, but, now that he’s done them, it’s hard to imagine wanting them from anyone else.
OVADIA AND SONS
After a bit of a difficult transition season, the blogger-beloved Ovadia brothers are once again at the top of their game. Last season’s attempt at modernizing the feel of the young label may have been rockier than expected, and left early fans of the label confused. The trad-leaning garments Ovadia and Sons built their name upon were, in an instant gone and the results were more head-scratching than eye-opening. This season however, brothers Ariel and Shimon Ovadia have successfully taken their mastery of traditional suiting and translated it into a fully developed collection perfect for the men of 2015. The move makes sense, of course; the brothers laid claim to the emerging itali-trad style out of the gate, letting any would-be naysayers know they had the technical chops to move men’s fashion forward - should they choose to do so - which is precisely what they did in their most recent outing. Suiting that is cut trim in all the right places while abstaining from any gimmicky shows of “modernism” - no razor thin lapels or comically abbreviated pant legs here. Just a heavy dose of forward-leaning menswear for a customer that the Ovadia brothers seem to know well: a man who is aware of the obvious value and elegance of a Paul Stuart suit but who can’t help but admire the latest directional looks out of London or Paris and ultimately, wants a bit of both.
Beyond the suiting, an array of bomber jackets let the audience know the brothers Ovadia still had their thumb on the pulse of internet cool, while the exploded houndstooth version will certainly make it to the top of most people’s “best of” lists when that time comes. Elsewhere, a belted overcoat with broad, arrogant lapels filled the audience with longing, if not for the actual inclement weather to come, but for the earliest excuse to wear the Ovadia’s most recent offerings.
Recent Council of Fashion Designers of America Incubator inductee Orley presented one of the most imminently wearable collections of the S/S 2015 calendar this fashion week. True to the label’s origins, the trio of designers (two brothers and a recent fiancé-turned-wife, making for three Orleys) based their collection in their signature, lust-worthy knitwear, and let the rest of the collection evolve organically from there. For Spring/Summer that meant a beautifully crafted midnight blue M-65 that, after years of #menswear overdose, seemed fresh, even elegant, in Orley’s hands. The other big non-knitwear news from this collection is the trousers; reliably sourced from Italian mills as the designers are wont to do, and cut well above the ankles, just this side of appropriate. And while this natural progression into a fully developed line are exciting to watch, fans of Orley want to see the knitwear! Thankfully, the three Orleys behind the label delivered and then some. A variety of checked and plaid sweaters and polos made up the bulk of the collection, rendered primarily in softened pastels that made the proposition of wearing long sleeved knitwear in the summer months seem downright tempting. But this isn’t meant to give the brand short-shrift, they are certainly more than the sum of their knitwear. But, for an emerging brand that has rapidly gained the esteem of the fashion community at large, it’s not a terrible jumping off point either.