What men and boys might want to wear in the aftermath of the pandemic was an overarching question this Milan season.
If one asks Italy’s pack of elevated and luxurious casualwear brands — no less dignified, creative, or high-quality than their runway-showing siblings — color would come up as an answer, and knitwear and linen, too.
Typically catering to a more fashion-conservative audience, these brands are enjoying momentum as people return to traveling and seek escapism in idyllic summer destinations.
Brands are updating their fashion to tap into younger generations and an international clientele, moves exemplified by Harmont & Blaine’s ongoing rebranding and Slowear’s and Brett Johnson’s retail push (the former brand is opening a store in Manhattan’s SoHo in two weeks). They continued to charm with wardrobe-building assortments, often injected with more daring color choices and luxurious lightweight fabrics.
Case in point, Slowear’s spring palette was joyful, drenched in the sun, tinged with marine hues, and grounded in earthy tones with breezy linen blazers worn over peachy shirts and sunflower yellow Tees, matched with sandy chino pants, while Harmont & Blaine stepped on the gas, introducing a concept collection that revolved around weekdays, renamed to reference a mood such as wisdom, truth, freedom and more, each one associated to a different zingy color.
The vitamin injections provided by all-yellow lightweight shorts with striped shirts over logo Ts, or the citrusy appeal of orange gingham crewnecks layered over striped shirts and same-color chino pants, mingled with bolder red and bright blue ensembles provided unfussy takes on the casual wardrobe, at times imbued with sports inflections.
Overall, there were nods to Italian summers via popsicle colors and breezy fabrics in these wardrobe-building collections. At Slowear, a beach cabana’s thick stripes appeared on shirts, shorts and knitwear, the latter including eco-friendly Ice cotton options, a step among others the company has taken along its sustainable journey, which could have it gain B Corp status in 2023.
Come next summer, knitted polo shirts and underpinnings are bound to replace too-stiff-to-wear shirts and become everyday basics. For instance, designer Luca Larenza had open weave knit polos that were charmingly languid, or cardigans in scaled-up horizontal stripes and childish vests knitted loose to match tailored cargo pants.
Knitwear was strong at Brett Johnson, too, as he underpinned his elevated casualwear look — filled with luxurious fabrics and treatments, such as skin-moisturizing beeswax applied to garments — with superfine crewnecks and tactile cable knits, some of which were hooded.
The American designer charmed his growing audience, with its packed presentation proving that business is in good shape as footfall at the recently opened Dubai store — its first — already suggested.
His were clothes intended for the off-duty Wall Street types, trading woolen gray and blue suit uniforms for elasticated Bermuda pants crafted from the ultralight Solaro fabric and deconstructed blazers in linen cotton and silk, or linen bomber jackets.
While working a restrained color palette that hinged on the sandy tones of Dubai’s desert, he added touches of forest green, purple and canary yellow, as, he believes, not even fashion conservative customers could resist their appeal.
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