MILAN — A shorter calendar that continues to see brands opting for coed shows on the women’s schedule left some retailers wanting more but, overall, Milan continues to be a draw on the men’s wear scene.
“Milan was a light schedule but definitely worth coming,” said Mario Grauso, president of Holt Renfrew.
Milan’s sunny weather helped lift the mood, with several retailers praising outdoor venues such as the Oscar Niemeyer-designed Palazzo Mondadori, where Alessandro Sartori staged his show for Ermenegildo Zegna.
“Milan kicked off the collections with a stunning Ermenegildo Zegna sunset presentation that mirrored the soft glow of the fresh spring colors and textured fabrics. Pops of soft rose and teal made a chic contrast to white, evoking a mood of summer getaways,” said Tom Kalenderian, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s for Barneys New York.
Streetwear remains a major focus of collections from Zegna to Fendi, while designers still looked to the Eighties and Nineties for the trends, from tie-dyed looks and sandals to bucket hats and anoraks. Collections continue to show athletic and performance influences, with technical materials and detailing. Strong prints and colors — with pops of neon — lit up the runways. Constructions were soft and shapes looser.
But even as most buyers praised the week — actually three and a half days — of the Milan men’s season, there were some who said there are significant challenges to overcome. Riccardo Tortato, Tsum men’s fashion director, believes the season “was not so exciting. I haven’t seen anything absolutely ‘wow.’ I think that it’s a weird moment, kind of confused with coed collections and the changes of the schedules. The men’s fashion business is extremely relevant on a global scale so I don’t think that some brands’ decision to show later with women’s collections is very smart in terms of business performances.”
Here, a roundup of the Milan highlights from the retailers:
Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus:
Favorite Collections: Ermenegildo Zegna Couture, Brunello Cucinelli, Kiton, Fendi.
Top Trends: Athletic and sporting influences are pervasive, with performance influencing all categories. More durable soft tailoring, fluid outerwear, especially in lighter parka styles; new takes on track-inspired trousers and jackets are everywhere, with lighter, more technical fabrications like mesh and sheer nylon and technical detailing bringing a seasonal freshness to the whole sportswear category. We’re also seeing a lot of botanical prints and jacquards, which are brightening up sportswear and even soft tailoring. Transparency using both mesh and nylon fabrications, especially in light outerwear pieces, is a recurring theme.
Must-Have Item: Sand suede bomber jackets have been a key outerwear item; lightweight nylon anoraks and fluid parkas; lightly tailored jackets with performance aspects.
Best Venue: Zegna Couture’s setting at the Oscar Niemeyer-designed Gruppo Mondadori building outside Milan was spectacular. The amazing structure, beautiful evening and stunning colors of the sunset made for a truly remarkable setting for a great collection and show.
Karen Vernet, director of men’s fashion at Printemps:
Favorite Collection: Versace
Trend Spotting: Tailoring remains a strong statement. Technical fabrics, knitwear, linen, oversized shirts with short sleeves, all-over prints, colorful silhouettes, with a focus on pinks and greens. For accessories: fanny packs, phone holders, sunglasses, sandals with socks and platform sneakers.
Must-Have Item: The Prada chapka and the Versace python shirt.
Best Venue: The Versace garden on via Gesù, and the top of the Pirelli tower for the Sunnei show.
Talent Scouting: There weren’t so many newcomers.
Say Bye-Bye To: Trends?
Tom Kalenderian, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s for Barneys New York:
Favorite Collections: Neil Barrett, Marcelo Burlon, Palm Angels and Prada.
Trend Spotting: Clearly evident in these collections is a fresh trend in strong prints which are clearly the statement trend driving the season and are evident in most collections. Eleventy and Massimo Alba showed in presentations geared for a gentler approach to outfitting a casual lifestyle. I especially loved all the sun-washed colors of linen in blues and red tones at Alba paired with shorts, or joggers. Sartorio showed a super-sophisticated wardrobe for the modern gentlemen with a nod to midcentury styling evoking the effortless style of [Giancarlo] Giannini and [Marcello] Mastroianni. We thought that the summer dinner jackets in pale colors of linen, with printed trousers made for the most memorable summer events.
Jack Cassidy, men’s wear buying manager at Selfridges:
Favorite Collections: My favorite shows of the season were Marni, Versace and Prada. Each of them were such bold and confident collections that really felt inspired and not afraid of color. They had a vibrancy and energy that really stood out. I also saw a preview of Dries Van Noten, which I think will be a highlight of the Paris schedule.
Top Trends: Continuing from last season, neon was everywhere from Versace, Prada, Palm Angels and Marcelo Burlon. Also the chunky “dad” sneaker does not seem to be slowing down and came in all manner of guises. Key bottom trend alert was pale blue denim.
Must-Have Item: Any of Marni’s striped and over-printed patterned shirts.
Best Venue: The Zegna show was a beautiful start to the MFW schedule. Not only was the collection strong but the venue of the Palazzo Mondadori was exquisite. As the sun set, the reflections in the lake, windows and mirrored runway were sensational.
Talent Scouting: Represent truly took the audience to Manchester with their confident collection, featuring a guitar player, car and spray paint set and humorous slogans — “It’s grim up north!” For an emerging U.K.-based brand to show on schedule in Milan and show a cohesive collection sports/streetwear collection it felt like a breath of fresh air.
Fiona Firth, buying director at Mr Porter:
Favorite collections: Prada and Tom Ford were my standout shows — both had such unique atmospheres!
Top Trends: There were a few trends that I noticed, there was definitely a lot of bucket hats, cycling shoes and Seventies ski and sportswear-inspired polos, knights and graphics. In terms of the color palette, there was a lot of brown going on but also a lot of bright, fluorescent colors as well as pastels.
Must-Have Item: A red and white roll-neck sweater from Prada — extremely versatile for a man’s wardrobe.
Best Venue: The best venues were Versace’s floral garden on via Gesù and Ermenegildo Zegna at Palazzo Mondadori.
Simon Longland, general merchandise manager for men’s wear and sports at Harrods:
Favorite Collections: Ermenegildo Zegna was one of my favorite collections. I enjoyed the modern aesthetic, function-focused features and emphasis on a relaxed sporty silhouette. Alessandro Sartori’s new tailoring language focuses on a looser shape, lighter fabric and subtle patterns to create an incredibly wearable and commercially successful collection. I also really enjoyed Fendi for its earthy color palette and huge variation in designs centered around the house’s iconic logo — from the young Brit-pop designs of hooded track-shirts and bucket hats, to classic Italian tailoring and separates that gave a sleek and youthful silhouette.
Top Trends: Streetwear has been replaced by Nineties rave culture with Versace, Palm Angels, Marcelo Burlon and Fendi all putting emphasis on neon and acid colors alongside logos, anoraks, bum bags and bucket hats. This was contrasted against elegant and muted collections from Ermenegildo Zegna, Brunello Cucinelli and Pal Zileri, who framed their season with neutral tones, accented with rich jewel tones and pops of primary color. Picture and icon prints were a big feature in many collections; Prada featured postcard prints, Zegna worked with souvenir icons and Versace created their own newspaper front page. Some of the most interesting were the American references in Palm Angels, where the eagle and Stars and Stripes adorned many pieces. Layering seems to be a key feature this season, particular with Fendi, which paired long-sleeve tees under boxy shirts throughout the collection.
Must-Have Item: Spring 2019 has reaffirmed the need to add color into your wardrobe; this can be achieved via printed shirts and T-shirts or bold solid blocks of color. Bright color looked freshest when paired against black. Must-have items are wide washed denim jeans, anoraks and printed shirts.
Talent Scouting: We discovered Eleventy this season and are very drawn to the timeless and seasonless approach, as well as the exceptional quality, which we are seeing an increasing demand for.
Biggest Milan Takeaway: Milan spoke to the generations this season, but the Millennial influence was more prominent than ever. Whilst many designers embraced the Millennial movement, Dolce & Gabbana seemed to purposefully juxtapose their clothing with the range of generations in the show. Having built the past few seasons around the Millennial tribe, Dolce & Gabbana heroed the older generation and styled them in streetwear, whilst the Millennials wore tailoring – a shake-up of what we have seen. Another takeaway is the need to strike a balance between base tones and popping colors – your wardrobe next season should feature a healthy mix of greys and neutrals alongside primary and neon.
Roopal Patel, Senior Vice President, Fashion Director, Saks Fifth Avenue:
Favorite Collections: Ermenegildo Zegna, Versace, Prada, Brunello Cucinelli, Isaia and Kiton.
Must-Have Item: The shirt jacket was everywhere. It was shown in stripes, prints, colors and shirting fabrics.
Best Venue: The Ermenegildo Zegna show at Fondazione Mondadori was breathtaking. The collection truly stood out.
Top Trends: Relaxed sartorial tailoring was trending, as well as checks — both big and small — in plaid and gingham, bold and graphic stripes and the novelty pant in stripes and bright colors in a cargo or track silhouette. Brunello Cucinelli’s collection brought about the return of the double-breasted jacket. The season was full of novelty, signature and whimsical prints. Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Prada and Palm Angels showed print-on-print ensembles. Sport and tennis influences were dominant, whether it be windbreakers in nylon, joggers in stripes or plaid, or neon parkas. The novelty sneaker was everywhere on the runway this season. It continues to be the it silhouette. The boat shoes at Jimmy Choo and Prada looked fresh, in addition to the loafers at Prada.
Milan Fashion Week felt fresh and had a fun, light and playful energy. Designers are looking beyond street wear and exploring how to dress the modern-day man, from sartorial to sport, from day to evening. From neutrals to rich spice hues to neon, it is the season of color.
Mario Grauso, president, Holt Renfrew:
Favorite Collections: Prada, Ermenegildo Zegna, Brunello Cucinelli, Fendi.
Trend Spotting: Super short shorts, colorful chunky sneakers, athletic inspired everything, hats (from bucket to trappers), Nineties club kids, and relaxed sartorial. Accessories in general — lots of oversized bags paired with mini bags. More is more.
Riccardo Tortato, Tsum men’s fashion director:
Favorite collections: Ermenegildo Zegna, Versace, Giorgio Armani, Dsquared2 and Pal Zileri.
Top Trends: Fluid, high-end fabrics, soft constructions, comfortable and relaxed silhouettes.
Best location: I think that Ermenegildo Zegna scored the gold medal both in terms of collection and location. The sunset, the water reflections, the architecture…everything was magic and it perfectly worked with the collection.
Federica Montelli, head of fashion at Rinascente:
Favorite collections: Versace, MSGM, Ermenegildo Zegna, Fendi, Palm Angels.