NEW YORK — There weren't a whole lot of waves being made in the salable sea of blue that was American menswear at the recently wrapped New York Fashion Week. But there were a few key trends to keep in mind when the spring 2014 shopping season rolls around.
Spring and summers collections often turn to a tropical motif, and while there was plenty of aloha spirit in evidence at New York Fashion Week — most memorably in Michael Bastian's bold pineapple prints and David Hart's lei-draped collection (inspired by the Hawaiian tourism boom of the late 1950s and early 1960s) — flowers and other vegetation could be seen sprouting from other sources as well. For CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists Ovadia & Sons, for example, the floral inspiration came from a painting of a bouquet of flowers. Billy Reid blended camouflage with a camellia pattern and J. Crew turned to Mother Nature for weathered fern and fallen-leaf patterns inspired by cyanotype prints from the 1800s. "Brotanicals," anyone?
There was a noticeable athletic/activewear-inspired vibe on the men's runways this time out in fabrication (lots of athletic mesh and neoprene), embellishments (including appliqued, embroidered and screen-printed jersey numbers) and silhouettes. The range included such offerings as Michael Bastian's biking caps (a Mr. Kim collaboration), Opening Ceremony's street-racing-inspired gear and various riffs on the hockey jersey at Hood by Air. But had there been a team spirit award, it would have gone to Skingraft, which in its New York runway debut managed to include so many athletic-inspired details (including shin guards, running shorts and a shirt quilted to resemble a baseball catcher's chest guard) that the spring collection wouldn't have looked out of place in a "Rollberball" remake.
Tactile textiles and the combination of rough and smooth textures in a single garment were abundant on the runways and in the showrooms of New York Fashion Week. Billy Reid's focus on fabric development for spring and summer resulted in a bumper crop of nubbly textures: coarse weaves, puckered plaids, broken jacquards and tweed drawstring surf pants and sisal paired with leather on bags and shoes. The Duckie Brown duo of Daniel Silver and Steven Cox offered up a similar contrast in textures thanks to lace layered over zip-front jackets and hoodies, jute aprons made from repurposed coffee sacks, and linen and jute trousers. The Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers collection gave the juxtaposition of textures a preppy twist with black and white paisley-patterned lace layered over seersucker jackets.
The camouflage pattern that's long been a mainstay of the menswear-military-industrial complex has reached a James Franco level of ubiquity with the spring 2014 collections (even managing to pop up in a Brooks Brothers necktie). Still, Billy Reid managed to make it fresh by creating a custom camellia-camo print that he used on shorts, jackets and ponchos.
But it was the Mark McNairy New Amsterdam collection that gleefully pushed it to an it's-so-comic-it-must-be-commentary level of over-saturation. McNairy's arsenal included not just traditional versions but also digi-camo and blue floral camo, with camouflage appearing on trousers, overalls and jackets by itself or in combination with bright allover embroidery patterns that included yellow rubber duckies, white daisies and pink flower blossoms. The final look? A T-shirt screen-printed printed with: "Hey hey, my my, camouflage will never die" — paired with a pair of camouflage cargo pants, naturally.