Beyond the stellar storytelling, blockbuster hits such as The Bear, Succession and Christopher Nolan’s latest hit Oppenheimer, help to timestamp where we’re currently at with regard to men’s fashion. And if you’ve yet to delve into their respective worlds (we highly recommend it, by the way) the consensus is that we’re currently obsessed with the basics.
It’s a telling shift when the cut and make of a Merz B Schwanen white tee becomes almost as newsworthy as The Bear’s critically acclaimed storyline. Or how the if-you-know-you-know old money aesthetic in Succession has spawned articles alongside TikTok content breaking down what “quiet luxury” is as a trend. We’re moving away from monograms and in-your-face logos, with an appreciation of the craft behind each piece becoming key.
The Autumn/Winter 2023 menswear collections are driving down on the idea of elevated basics. Though the silhouettes are familiar (and at times, simplified), these new-old forms recall a time when fashion ingenuity was subtle and flourishes were done with intention. But if you think that means there are hardly any fresh ideas, think again.
Burberry’s overhaul begins with Autumn/Winter 2023. Under the stewardship of chief creative officer Daniel Lee (of #newbottega fame), gone are the uncharacteristically dark and punk-ish looks that were favoured by predecessor Riccardo Tisci.
Lee’s intention was to bring Burberry back to its British roots. He even cited familial connections to the brand’s Castleford outpost where its iconic trench coats are manufactured—family members on his mother’s side had worked in factories supplying to Burberry, he says in a Vogue interview.
The immediate change is seen in the emblematic Burberry check that’s not only rendered in bold colours, but also shifted in perspective and appear larger than ever on ready-to-wear. The brand’s Equestrian Knight Design—a crowd-sourced logo as a result of a public competition in 1901—has been revived and refreshed, adding to the collection’s number of Brit-related graphics. An English rose print blooms completely on softened aviator jackets and workwear-inspired pieces, while mallards appear as a repeated motif seemingly to break away from the relatively serious palette of the collection.
What about the Burberry trench coats? They continue to live on of course, but Lee’s versions are cut oversized and supplemented with faux fur lapels. And if remotely possible, they look more luxurious in this new interpretation.
It makes sense given that we’re approaching the season when temperatures dip—at least for countries farther up north of the equator—the menswear collections are rife with pieces meant to keep us warm. Instead of piling on outerwear, how about opting for pieces that have been lengthened?
First up is Bottega Veneta where creative director Matthieu Blazy plays plenty with proportions and trompe l’œil effects. A striped shirt is cut decidedly oversized with the hem reaching mid-calf, but what’s even more impressive is the fact that it’s not made of cotton. The shirt is actually leather that’s been fashioned to appear like a cotton shirt, which also means that it’ll keep one a whole lot warmer. There’s also a jumper in a separate look that reaches all the way to the ankles, complete with ribbed hem.
If you’re up for a more distressed option to Bottega Veneta’s long jumper, Coach’s striped iteration features an intarsia Superman motif that’s further enhanced by an overall destroyed aesthetic. Sure, this probably wouldn’t keep you warm but does it really matter when it’s supposed to be a standout piece?
For something more put together, Prada’s suede tunics are in line with its constant exploration of uniforms. They’re minimally designed with a flap breast pocket trimmed with a beautiful patina. Like most Prada designs, they can be cuttingly clinical but if minimalism is your thing, this will be one to cherish.
Is the tie truly dead? Not if Valentino has anything to say about it. The Italian fashion house conceptualised an entire collection dedicated to the black tie and named it, well, “Black Tie”. Creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli shifts the attention of black tie as part of formal dress to that of a style staple that works for just about any setting.
There’s nary a single formal suit look throughout the entire collection. When suits were employed together with a slim tie—an element that’s visible on each and every look—they’re hardly traditional black tie-ready. Instead, suit blazers are paired with short shorts and Rockstud Chelsea boots for outfits that certainly wouldn’t fly in a traditional black tie setting.
From an artfully tailored boiler suit matched with a bold red shirt, to a voluminous pea coat worn over a pastel green shirt in the same tone as a pair of creepers, each look makes a strong case for the tie as simply another accessory to consider—and without the stuffy undertone that it’s been associated with.
Taking the co-opting of women-centric fashion a step further, we’re seeing an increasingly intentional softness to the menswear collections this season. The designs are undoubtedly more fluid à la Zegna and Dior Men where constructions of tailoring have softened over the years. But what’s more apparent for Autumn/Winter 2023 is the influence of womenswear.
Dolce&Gabbana for example, included corsetry for a number of its menswear looks. They’re styled over silk shirts in tone-on-tone monochromatic colours, accentuating the waist. In some ways, they do resemble cummerbunds albeit taking more significant real estate on the body.
But what’s more severe in execution is Fendi’s slew of one-shouldered tops. If creative director Silvia Venturini Fendi’s Spring/Summer 2022 menswear collection saw her cropping tops and blazers, the current collection has her slashing diagonally to create toga-inspired knit tops and shirting that expose skin. Alexander McQueen’s tailoring-heavy collection also features flashes of skin through careful deconstruction. In one look, a suit blazer is slashed into half with the bottom-half kept buttoned to instantly create a fit-and-flare silhouette; in another, the back panel of a blazer is cut up and replaced with floral embroidery for maximum visual impact.
At Saint Laurent—easily one of the highlights of the season—the lines between the House’s menswear and womenswear are blurred. While the latter have always been informed by menswear, this time around, Saint Laurent’s menswear tap on the exceptional fluidity of the women’s universe. The proportions are lengthened and exaggerated with massive bow details, beautiful draping as well as hooded creations that are borrowed from previous womenswear collections. Clothes are clothes are clothes, after all.
The cardigan was an intrinsic part of Mister Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame, whose zipped, cable-knit variations became a ritualistic introduction to each episode. The transition from blazer to cardigan signalled a dressing down that immediately brings viewers closer, almost to a more intimate level of comfort. Then there’s Kurt Cobain’s penchant for cardigans. They’re worn over graphic tees and patterned shirts, and are a reflection of grunge’s anti-establishment sensibilities.
The contrast between the two is stark and exemplifies the versatility of the cardigan beyond functionality. We hardly consider wearing cardigans, but that’s about to change this season as luxury fashion brands offer options that are hard to ignore.
Dior Men’s pearl-embroidered iteration is one you’d easily want to pair with tailored separates, while Zegna’s minimalist cardigans designed with hidden buttons and crafted thin are perfect for all-year layering.
When they’re made plush and with considerable weight such as the ones by Ferragamo and Loewe (beautifully crafted with drop shoulders), treat the cardigan as a knit shirt by wearing one on its own. Or like Celine’s devil-may-care attitude, an embellished cardigan paired with quintessential rocker accessories will also be the way to embrace the humble knitwear once again, and in your own stylistic leanings.