MILAN — Italian men’s wear designers toned down their collections for spring with more casual, lived-in looks — and hit just the right notes with buyers.


“This was not a ho-hum season,” said Tom Kalenderian of Barneys New York. “I think the designers did an excellent job taking chances. They’re very serious about stimulating business. And creativity is king, because you have to create desire that says ‘I have to have it,’ regardless of price.”

“Everyone was in a positive mood. We just talked about the future, how we can change the way we do business and what products we need to change the business. And all the designers offered that, just by showing much more sportswear, and just with more ease in the fit,” said Tommy Fazio from Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.

Prints and classic men’s wear patterns like Prince of Wales or houndstooth made a strong return, while bold reds and deep blues accented an otherwise predominantly gray color palette.

The short double-breasted blazer and trenchcoat were staples in many collections and tailored clothing in general was wrinkled, underlining the relaxed out-of-the-office mood. Trousers were easy-fit, some with tapered legs or more pleats, while mesh and open-weave knits played to transparency and sporty technical fabrications breathed new life into sportswear separates.

In general, retailers frowned upon anything that stepped outside the casual-chic vibe.

“When designers went too bling, adding too many jewels or stones on the outside of garments, it just didn’t feel of-the-moment,” said Richard Johnson of Harvey Nichols.

But the upbeat mood went only so far — buyers said they were working with flat or slightly lower budgets and reducing their mix of vendors, focusing on those that offered something new.

“The new environment challenges us to be uncompromising in our selections.…Editing to those that do it best and offering focused assortments allows our voice of authority to resonate with our customers’ desire for leading style,” said Barbara Atkin from Holt Renfrew.

Standout collections included Giorgio Armani, Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Burberry Prorsum, Ermenegildo Zegna, Etro, Gucci, John Varvatos, Moncler and Prada, retailers said.

Here is what buyers had to say about the Milan collections for spring.

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