MILAN — Retailers felt Milan Men’s Fashion Week hit the mark, despite the changing — and shrinking — calendar.
Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, said that while Gucci and Bottega Veneta, for example, have moved to the city’s women’s fashion week and were noticeably absent, “Milan was a strong season filled with great showroom appointments and some very memorable shows. It was a very rich season, especially following a very successful Pitti Uomo.”
Mario Grauso, president of Holt Renfrew, concurred. “Milan was quick and easy. Prada over-delivered and everyone else felt consistent and business as usual,” he observed.
The city, according to Karen Vernet, director of men’s fashion at Printemps, “remains a strong fashion week for both established brands like Prada and Dolce & Gabbana, and up-and-coming ones like Palm Angels and Sunnei, even if we expected a stronger presence of new designers and brands. We also missed having shows from key men’s players like Moncler and Salvatore Ferragamo.”
Among the main trends, retailers said, were:
• great outerwear;
• corduroy and updated British traditional men’s wear patterns such as tartan, houndstooth and Prince of Wales;
• textured surfaces and velvet;
• fluid tailoring, and
• military details and a rich color palette.
Here, a roundup of the Milan highlights from retailers:
David Aquilina, head of men’s wear buying at Harvey Nichols:
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Brunello Cucinelli was superb this season. They are definitely leading the way within the sartorial Italian world, making this product category feel modern and relevant. Within the world of tailoring, we thought Cifonelli was also great with their sharp suiting and beautiful fabrications.
Palm Angels was also a highlight as we think it will be great for our market. A really strong, identifiable aesthetic. Finally, my personal favorite was Prada, especially since she [Miuccia Prada] was referencing some great concepts from their past.
TOP TRENDS: The products and trends in Milan are so diverse that everyone can translate what has been seen in a different light. With more than 70 looks at Emporio Armani and 100 at Dolce & Gabbana, you can now find a multitude of trends within a singular brand. For us, we are moving away from underlying trends but a key takeaway this season is the use of bolder textures with cord, suede, shearling, velvet and tartan being dominant within a variety of brands. There was also a little bit of a “Midwest Americana” undertone floating about. Whether this materializes in the stores is another thing.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: With it being the autumn collections showing, the outerwear has been great. Particularly at Fendi if you’re after a bolder statement.
BEST VENUE: The Palm Angels basement was raw and stripped back with a phenomenal sound system, which made it feel like the ceiling was caving in. A great change from the regular format.
TALENT SCOUTING: Sulvam is definitely a brand to keep your eye on.
Simon Longland, general merchandise manager for men’s wear and sports at Harrods:
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: We always look forward to Milan and this season it didn’t disappoint. My favorite collections for fall 2018 were Ermenegildo Zegna for the modern-day utility aesthetic and beautiful composition of fabrics such as cord, leather and the most beautiful cashmere; Neil Barrett for his take on the modern male wardrobe from everyday suiting with his unique twist, to redefining a tuxedo look and presenting every style of outerwear one could possibly need — this was a collection which all will find something to suit; finally, Fendi for offsetting practical pieces with playful styling — jackets emblazoned with the iconic logo both externally and internally, as well as their incorporation of heritage fabrics on outerwear and suits. Fendi also played with length and weight, tailoring was either oversize and flared, or cropped and slim, whilst outerwear was heavy and structural with knee-length wool peacoats, as well as fluid with flowing silk parkas.
TOP TRENDS: Across Milan, it was great to see fabrics get inventive. Mohair and cord suits at Ermenegildo Zegna, unstructured leather trousers at Neil Barrett. While velvet appeared almost everywhere and in day as well as the best evening looks of Milan. Fall 2018 was very much all or nothing when it came to patterns and colors, which were worn from head to toe. Ralph Lauren had a series of full houndstooth looks which included shirting, suits and coats, whilst Neil Barrett matched geometric shirts with coordinating ties and suits, and as always Dolce & Gabbana did not shy away from geometric, bold patterns as a full suiting look. The inspiration of the great outdoors was undeniable this season, fall 2018 is all about at least the appearance of practical dressing in preparation for the elements, from chunky laced hiking boots to military style utilitarian outerwear, which was mostly belted or heavily zipped. Fabric continues to be functional and Prada used their iconic nylon to showcase this change at the forefront of the collection.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: For me, hiking boots will be a must. For fall, new outerwear is paramount, and I very much love the belted greatcoat styles that we saw at most shows: clean lined in navy and one in a rich heritage fabric or plaid are on my list. Corduroy is back, softer and more supple than ever; it was great to see this applied to suiting and outerwear.
BEST VENUE: The best venue of Milan was at Prada where the show was located at the Prada Warehouse, which is situation alongside the Fondazione. Within the venue, you were surrounded by carts and boxes splashed with the Prada logo, which was pretty apt given the collection was a deep dive into the house’s archives.
Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus:
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Prada showed new interpretations and volumes using the house’s iconic black tech nylon, reasserting the brand’s long history of fabric innovation that is so prevalent now. Printing archive graphics on nylon in surf-style shorts and camp shirts was a fresh, bold statement. Isaia, Santoni and Kiton all had dynamic, effective presentations with great new introductions.
TRENDS: Velvet, for sure; tartan; Western was a slight undercurrent, and performance in general, across all categories including tailoring, also vis-à-vis Miuccia Prada’s reassertion of her ownership of tech nylon as a fashion statement is really pivotal. Corduroy continues from last fall, seeing it in more wearable ways rather than strictly on the runway. There’s definitely a bit of uniform/utility around with olive drab, military detailing like epaulets, envelope pockets. Interestingly, there are some really strong, viable color messages, which isn’t always the case for men’s, including burgundy and rust.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: Anything in Prada’s black tech nylon. What a great time to assert the brand’s iconic performance fabric.
BEST VENUE: I loved the Prada warehouse and would like to also give a special mention to Fendi. They rounded out the week with one of the most enjoyable, effective shows of late with a clever baggage claim setting, perfect to highlight their leather goods, with models walking by and pulling their pieces off as they proceeded. It was smart and entertaining and was a great background for terrific ready-to-wear with their iconic logo and new print.
Roopal Patel, senior vice president, fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue:
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Prada. The collection was a great collaboration of fashion, function and design. The return of signature Prada nylon and Prada sport feels right for today’s man; linear; clean, and chic. Fendi’s collection was made for the jet-set and global traveler, which is so much of how everyone is living today. Then Versace — it’s a Versace moment. The iconic Versace print feels very right for what’s taking place in fashion right now. The eclectic mix of tartan plaids…and this mix of collegiate with street, Donatella [Versace] really was embracing the heritage of the house. It feels fresh and modern again. Palm Angels — Francesco Ragazzi is really coming into his own.
TRENDS: There’s a real return to tailoring, real luxurious plays on suiting. Plays on corduroy and velvet felt directional and new. Loved the plaids this season; there was a plaid for every occasion, from checks to herringbone and houndstooth. Military dressing was also a favorite…and the idea of utility and uniformity in a completely different way. There was also a lot of great knitwear on the runway this season.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: You definitely need something in plaid this season, whether it’s a great jacket or a great suit.
BEST VENUE: The Prada warehouse.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: Drop-crotch pants. Really digging the new cargo shape that we’d like to see a little bit more of this season.
Lee Goldup, men’s wear buyer at Browns Fashion:
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Undercover, Marni and Prada.
TOP TRENDS: The Nineties is still the biggest overarching trend — oversize garments and blown out proportions were everywhere.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: Overhead parka.
BEST VENUE: Prada’s logo filled warehouse set-up.
Ben Hurren, men’s designer buyer at Selfridges:
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Prada was astounding this season. To have so many iconic references to the brand’s history was a real treat. We all left that show knowing we had witnessed something special.
TOP TRENDS: This season in Milan it was all about fabrications. From cord and velvet at Versace to the triumphant return of nylon at Prada.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: Prada split archive shirts
BEST VENUE: Without question, Versace.
TALENT SCOUTING: Isabel Benenato has been a mainstay brand as part of Selfridges’ avant-garde offer and we were pleased to see her first show as part of the MFW schedule.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: Brands showcased their signature DNA through archive prints and iconic references rather than using obvious logos.
Justin Berkowitz, Bloomingdale’s men’s fashion director:
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Ermenegildo Zegna; Fendi; Versace; Marni, and Prada.
TRENDS: A key message of the season: self-reflection and self-reference. From Versace’s fun run through many of the house codes like tartan and baroque prints, to Prada’s remix of some of their greatest hits from black nylon to the printed camp shirts, to Neil Barrett’s focus on minimalism, using one’s own history as a source of inspiration was a common theme.
Another is a return to classic men’s wear patterns, especially those with a certain British heritage. From bold tartans — like those seen at Versace — to houndstooth and Prince of Wales — like those at Brunello Cucinelli and Ralph Lauren — takes on plaid have proliferated. Corduroy, a common fabric pairing back to these country fabrics, has been likewise omnipresent.
The third big story we are seeing that will be key for Bloomingdale’s is the vast approach to cold-weather dressing. From the incredible variety of shearling outerwear to the inventive updates to puffers and down jackets, our customer will be covered should next winter in the Northeast look anything like this one. We’re also excited about the hiker concurrent theme of alpine boots and sneaker-hiker hybrids to finish off the look. Compelling, yet also very practical.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: Anything plaid, especially when remixed or restyled in a new way. That could mean heritage tailoring fabrics done in a softer silhouette or bold tartans updated with an element of sport.
BEST VENUE: The Spinola Mansion, home of the Società del Giardino, and the venue for the Versace show. With its giant chandeliers and ornate interiors, it was a perfect fit for a brand that is not afraid to embrace the over-the-top.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: If we’re seeing anything this season, it’s more about how do you interpret something from the past and make it feel new again. Instead, perhaps it’s time to say hello to something in your closet that you haven’t in a while, and pick up something new that will make that item feel fresh.
Riccardo Tortato, Tsum’s fashion director for men’s wear and e-commerce:
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Dolce & Gabbana; Ermenegildo Zegna Couture; Versace, and Fendi
TRENDS: Everybody is doing sneakers with chunky soles inspired by Balenciaga’s Triple S Sneaker.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: The Versace “Chain Reaction” sneaker, the Versace velvet puffer; the embroidered parka by Dolce & Gabbana; Giorgio Armani’s extra-wide pants and military boots, as well as the Fendi mink fur cradle, which is definitely the cult accessory of the season.
BEST VENUE: I think that in Milan there is a lack of great venues. But I liked the location of the Ermenegildo Zegna Couture show, which was held inside the Bocconi University, and the airport-inspired installation at Fendi.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: I think that the traditional blazers with constructed shoulders are over, as well as classic topcoats, which are definitely not functional. I’m sorry that scarves have disappeared from collections.
Brian Sit, buyer, men’s designer collections at Hudson’s Bay:
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Marni, Ermenegildo Zegna, Isabel Benenato, and MSGM.
TOP TRENDS: Fluid tailoring — as noticeable in Isabel Benenato and Sartorial Monk — is a continuing trend perpetuating the idea of relaxed sartorial dressing. Also the convergence of streetwear and tailoring as seen with MSGM.
MUST-HAVE ITEM: Exaggerated plaid duster coat as seen in Fendi, Marni and MSGM.
TALENT SCOUTING: Isabel Benenato and Sartorial Monk
Karen Vernet, director of men’s fashion at Printemps:
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Versace — it was maybe the best show the brand has had in the last few years. Dolce & Gabbana and Moschino were also strong.
TOP TRENDS: Beautiful wools and a color explosion mixed with different variations of blacks, beautiful coats, reinvented tartan, and a return to authentic, vintage-inspired elements like denim, corduroy, leather tops and bottoms, and cowboy codes (boots, hats, fringes).
MUST-HAVE ITEMS: Shoes are more and more the key touch of the global look.
Mario Grauso, president, Holt Renfrew:
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Prada, which was an incredible retooling of its historic nylon and triangle logo. The oversize shapes and the fresh take on core elements layered over one another really shifted your interest in things you have in your closet and what you may need to add. We loved the empty triangles on several classic bags and the rebirth of Linea Rossa.
TOP TRENDS: Oversize outerwear. Pop overs and quilted shirts. Man purse. Nylon. Showing women’s in your men’s show.
MUST-HAVE ITEMS: The varsity scarf and plaid quilted shirt jacket from Versace. Anything Prada nylon. Cucinelli vicuña blazer. Zegna down pop over.
Tom Kalenderian, executive vice president, Barneys New York:
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Hands down, Nina-Maria Nitsche delivered a men’s Brioni collection that will inspire men to dress with her vision. She clearly defined modern luxury. I haven’t been this excited in a long time where the designer connected all the important elements of this venerable brand.
She carved a wardrobe of super luxurious pieces that are modern for day or evening. This collection is clearly a game changer for Brioni.
TRENDS: Loving the sumptuous oversize raglan coats in strong checks and plaids often in cashmere or wool blends that are as light as they are with character. John Vizzone at Cifonelli showed our favorite patterned coats that are chic and memorable.
MUST-HAVE ITEMS: Turtlenecks of all textures and gauges, fine and chunky, are a must have item for fall 2018. They complete the looks with plushness and texture from cotton/cashmere corduroy blazers to velvet and tweeds. Fioroni, the master of cashmere from Umbria, creates qualities of pill-proof cashmere turtlenecks that are weightless yet with great character.
BEST VENUE: The wow moment was in Florence at the opening of the Gucci Garden; a brilliant showcase of all things that embody the best of Gucci. This is the perfect retail entertainment for all visitors, both Gucci aficionados as well as first-time lookers of the brand. Alessandro Michele crafted an emporium that offers something for everyone and with whimsy as well as respect for heritage with an archival museum, retail shop and restaurant.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: Heavy outerwear that weighs you down is now a thing of the past. Herno showed the lightest cloth ever developed in a 5 Denier weight with 100 percent down minus the feathers and quills. These are coats that feel like you’re wearing air yet have the highest performance to keep you warm.
Candice Fragis, buying and merchandising director, Farfetch
FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: In spite of the shorter show schedule this season, the Milan collections were very strong. Versace showed such a diverse collection this season, including wearable statement pieces, which stay true to the brand’s DNA. I loved what Prada did reworking nylon, especially in its accessories line — it’s a material we are seeing throughout many collections this season.
TRENDS: We have seen streetwear go from strength to strength over the last few seasons, but now we are seeing it really evolve in a much more refined way. For example, layering fine knit turtlenecks under hoodies, paired with more tailored pieces. We are even seeing more historically classic brands adopting elements of streetwear pieces along with a continued focus on technical outerwear. We saw this at Ermenegildo Zegna this season.
MUST-HAVE ITEMS: Hiking boots styles featured across fall 2018 collections such as Neil Barrett, Marcelo Burlon County of Milan and MSGM. Co-ords also ran throughout many collections — either matching jacket, shirt or trousers. From casual monochromatic looks at No. 21, Sunnei and MSGM to more statement or printed versions at Versace, Neil Barrett and Marcelo Burlon County of Milan.
SAY BYE-BYE TO: Backpacks and rather embrace belt bags, crossbody and handheld shapes seen at Fendi, Giorgio Armani, MSGM and No. 21.
BEST VENUE: My favorite venue by far was the “Prada Warehouse,” by the Fondazione, where Prada showed their latest collection.