Men’s wear fabrics are breaking away from the classic, more sophisticated looks in favor of an edgier tone, according to mills exhibiting at Milano Unica.

This story first appeared in the September 15, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Executives described the trend as “upper casual,” showcasing the look in shirting, suiting and outerwear fabrics with innovative washes, weaves or bright colors such as green and blue.

Shirting fabric producer Testa offered its take in a pair of Royal Oxford weaves finished two ways — one, classic purple stripes with a lustrous sheen, the other, black-and-white stripes washed many times to achieve a supersoft, worn-in-places look.

“It’s still a classic shirt but it’s more wearable — something that is more attractive to the customer,” said Testa chief executive officer Aldo Ardemagni. “The fabrics were made into shirts for the show to further communicate to our clients something innovative — that we know the direction to take.”

Solbiati’s interpretation of the trend included tweedy cashmere and linen blends for jackets in emerald and deep blue.

“Formal, classic dressing — very few men dress like that today,” said Aimone Sambuy, Solbiati’s commercial director. “This trend, it’s not sports, it’s more informal luxury, like jersey jackets.”

Knitted aspects in a mélange of rustic wools, mottled checks and delave jerseys that looked like woven fabrics were part of Lanificio Botto Giuseppe’s lineup.

“It’s a more dynamic way of dressing,” said Stefano Botto Poala, manager. “Jersey has a structure that gives the silhouette a more relaxed form.”

The mill also unveiled versions of another popular fabric at the fair, a double-sided wool with traditional stripes on one side and an intense China blue flannel on the other.

“There was lots of innovation in new finishes, beautiful colors, especially in double-sided fabrics, and lighter weights,” said Ross Gershkowitz, vice president of men’s tailored clothing for JA Apparel Corp. “We ordered light flannel, which we’ve never ordered in the past because they were too heavy. We also loved the cashmere blends. The customer likes luxury yarns but doesn’t want to pay for them, and the blends with cotton and wool and silk make them more accessible.”

Trabaldo Togna put the spotlight on cashmere with an oversize gray-and-beige herringbone lightweight cashmere coat fabric made of four combed yarns twisted together. The fabric is priced at 140 euros, or about $205 at current exchange, a meter. Trabaldo Togna offered cashmere in more price-accessible blends, as well, mixed with wool and cotton in mossy violet, blue and black checks or cashmere, silk and linen blended for a vintage-looking black-and-white Prince of Wales.

“It’s about creating a new mood, turning the page,” said ceo Luca Trabaldo Togna.


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