MILAN — Escapism and a desire to return to some form of normalcy.
Those were among the key themes in the spring 2022 collections shown during Milan Men’s Fashion Week, perhaps best exemplified in the beautiful Sardinian beach captured by Prada for its video. “Prada’s wonderful romp in Sardinia was filled with great, uplifting resort-friendly items, cleverly styled sport jackets, shorter shorts and fantastic bucket hats,” said Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.
Federica Montelli, head of fashion at Rinascente, said “all designers presented a relaxed inspiration,” combining “casualwear with an elegant touch. The settings for the shows or the fashion movies celebrated resort as the strongest theme, testifying our wish to go back to travel and enjoy life, the ethereal quality of green and nature, and in some cases the power of celebration and party.”
Everyone has gotten used to comfort during the lockdown and this is hard to give up, so designers presented their new interpretations of the suit, which was marked by a more nonchalant and easy style with relaxed fits. Shorts, cargo pants, sport jackets and bombers were shown together with deconstructed blazers and lightweight cardigans in earthy tones, but the color palette was jazzed up at times by acid, pop hues. Retailers hailed the range of accessories — always a forte of Italian brands — including Prada’s bucket hat.
While IRL shows can’t come too soon, retailers praised the steps taken to produce entertaining videos.
Here’s what buyers had to say about the Milan men’s collections for next spring.
Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus:
Favorite collections: Mr. [Giorgio] Armani felt perfectly in his element reinterpreting what a suit can look and feel like today. I also really loved Brunello Cucinelli’s optimistic call to dress up, but always in his easy, elegant way.
Trendspotting: Dressed up occasion-based clothing and looks for going out; shorter shorts; new takes on the sport jacket and updated work wardrobe; bold, clashing color; the cargo pocket.
Must-have item: Any of the many sport jacket options and alternatives we saw; a dressed up look for after five; a Prada bucket hat…just for the fun of it.
Video format: I thought the epic, architectural film by Alessandro Sartori [for Ermenegildo Zegna] beautifully captured not only the relaxed, sculptural clothing but also the uplifting, optimistic mood in the air.
General comment on the season: What does it mean to get dressed up today? That question seems to have been on many designers’ minds when preparing their spring collections, optimistically anticipating the vaccine rollout and the pent-up desire to gather together and go out, dressed for any and many occasions. Both Giorgio Armani and Brunello Cucinelli decided to take on new interpretations of what the suit means to them, with the usually quite casual Cucinelli man donning neckties, double-breasted jackets and pinstripes with shirts unbuttoned at the neck, often with sneakers. Mr. Armani explored a variety of relaxed jacket options from bomber, trucker and zip-up styles to shirt jackets and most with matching pants. We are also seeing some exciting eveningwear and occasion-based clothing, dressed-up tailoring and looks made expressly for going out. Dolce & Gabbana presented a flashy, bejeweled collection made expressly for cocktail hour and into the night, with colorful jacquard suits worn with open, silky shirts and beaded jackets paired with distressed denim.
We are seeing great innovation and updates to the idea of the work uniform and what that means in today’s rapidly changing environment. Unconstructed, unlined sport jackets in durable materials and button front and zip front lightweight cardigans that function as casual work-friendly jackets have proliferated. New relaxed chore jackets in a variety of materials as well as jersey sport jackets are all great new options for casual workwear as well as weekend. Zegna, in particular, is a leading innovator of the new work uniform, while Kiton has also relaxed and refined their unstructured tailoring in beautiful pale neutral combinations, giving it a sporty edge that feels refreshing. We also saw the importance of this new relaxed take on the sport jacket in a fashion context from collections like Prada, where it was shown with sleeves pushed up, over unbuttoned knit cardigans and graphic tees, worn with shorts rolled up or floppy, fluid pants and sandals.
We are seeing lots of festive color, especially in mash-ups and clashing color and pattern. The Versace pre-collection featured some great psychedelic prints and Etro’s colorful botanical prints and bold solids were standouts.
Joseph Tang, fashion director at Holt Renfrew:
Favorite collections: We continue to be excited by the intersection of design ideas from Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada. They presented a new take on the digital runway by showcasing the evolution of the collection as models emerged into the sunny beaches of Sardinia. Fendi’s bold take on tailoring was refreshing to see. The candy color pastel hued suiting separates and fluid silhouettes were a highlight of the week.
Best presentation concept: Alessandro Sartori’s new takes on tailoring at Ermenegildo Zegna showcased a modern way for how to dress. The gender fluidity between the looks represented breaking down the traditional codes of men’s wear.
Trendspotting: The fluid and exaggerated silhouettes of the season were seen through wide-legged trousers, billowy shirts and soft layers. There was an overall sentiment of escapism this season with designers focusing on easy-to-wear travel pieces to get him wherever he wants to go.
Must-have item: Beach bag from Prada; boxy shirt from Zegna; coordinated printed suit from Fendi.
Video format: Designers embraced Italian landscapes that amplified the desire to wear these collections on an Italian holiday. Fendi’s collection under the Roman sunset was a standout for the season.
Buying process: We are hopeful that we will soon be able to travel for in-person market appointments, but until then we still lean on the virtual buying portals to write the collections. The technology that designers have invested in to showcase the product in the best way possible has been instrumental for making properly informed buying decisions.
General comment on the season: Escapism was the common message throughout the Milan collections this season with a glimpse into how we’ll want to dress post-pandemic. From the nomadic spirit at Brioni to the new fluid codes of men’s wear at Ermenegildo Zegna, the spring 2022 men’s collections offered a new vision of what men will want to wear.
Lee Goldup, men’s wear buyer at Browns:
Favorite collections: Prada, Fendi, Ermenegildo Zegna and Children of the Discordance.
Best presentation concept: Sunnei’s digital avatar models and Prada’s visual journey starting in red corridors, akin to a science fiction movie, to a Mediterranean beach paradise.
Trendspotting: Short shorts, pinks and purples, lightweight co-ords and head-to-toe color matching.
Must-have item: Everything from Prada. Especially the floral hoodie and bucket hats.
Video format: I love how creative brands have been digitally; it’s been inspiring to see, However, the IRL experience is unmatched.
Budgets: We haven’t reduced any budgets; however, as always are carefully considering how and where we spend them. As brands continue to feel the effects of the pandemic, we’ve reviewed and adjusted how much and what we can buy to ensure we are servicing the customer with seasonal product across all categories.
Buying process: Although the process of us buying for spring 2022 isn’t too different from last season as we remain mostly digital, we’re all very happy to have more IRL appointments this time around, connecting with our brand partners and are hoping for even more in the seasons to come.
General comment on the season: It’s great to feel a sense of optimism as we see more runway shows happening opposed to digital presentations and plenty of vibrant mood lifting colors.
Federica Montelli, head of fashion at Rinascente:
Favorite collections: Prada, Fendi, Ermenegildo Zegna, Etro, MSGM, Tod’s, Sunnei. Interesting debut from Glenn Martens at Diesel. To watch: Dhruv Kapoor and Federico Cina.
Trendspotting: Extremely short shorts are trending, from Prada to Fendi to MSGM, as well as tank tops, sandals with a sports attitude or with a crafty touch, towel material in hoodies as seen at Etro, as well as a plethora of bucket hats that remain a strong commercial item. Most brands have further experimented with the gender-fluid aesthetic, with “skorts” — a hybrid between shorts and skirts — or crop tops and cropped blazer jackets, as seen at Fendi. Summer knitwear is still strong, in oversize crewnecks and vests, experimenting with chenille and openwork knit.
Must-have item: Prada’s bucket hat with the V-brim and pouch has emerged as the most photographed item of these days, together with Fendi’s cropped blazer.
Buying process: We are still buying a good portion of the collections digitally, but being based in Milan we try to buy in the showrooms as much as possible and reprise some sort of normality.
General comment on the season: The focus on color was stronger than ever — be it pastels, gradients or pop colors — to confirm the optimist and joyous vibe for the season. Comfort is now a given concept, not newness anymore, and is confirmed by roomy shapes and fluidity in materials.
Justin Berkowitz, men’s fashion director at Bloomingdale’s:
Favorite collections: My personal favorites are the ones that spoke to soft, sophisticated and informal simplicity: Ermenegildo Zegna, Massimo Alba, Brioni and Giorgio Armani. All acknowledged quite clearly that we’re going to be living more informal lives even as we return to routines that feel a bit more like they did before the pandemic. They also proposed ways of dressing that felt fresh, refined and realistic. Men, coming out of the past year and half, are going to need to do some wardrobe rebuilding and these brands provided the cornerstones — the posts, the lintels and the pediments.
Trendspotting: New approaches to tailoring that fuse softness and a sportswear sensibility as seen by the relaxed fits on garments and soft volume, along with monochromatic dressing. Also, nods to utility, patch pockets, cargo pockets and performance fabrics. Many things ’90s resurfaced as a trend, with pastels meeting acid brights, bucket hats, wide pants and shorter shorts. Prints that live somewhere between abstract painted waves, solar flares and ombre were also prominent. We’ll see these trends embodied in our Bloomingdale’s assortment next year.
Must-have item: It’s rather hard not to think about bags right now as we’re getting out of our homes in earnest for the first time in a while, and need an item to hold the stuff of life. My money’s on Prada’s unexpected take on a hobo or Fendi’s mini cross-bodies.
Video format: There were many strong videos this season — I am thankful for them! Zegna, Prada and Fendi are top of mind for great cinematography, soundtracks and capturing something of the kind of mood you hope to understand when you sit physically for a show.
Margaux Lataste, men’s wear luxury and designers buyer at Printemps:
Favorite collections: Prada, Fendi, Diesel.
Best presentation concept: Prada summer escape in Sardinia. We finally get out of the tunnel and reaccess nature and the outside world.
Trendspotting: Pop colors, cabana stripes, vintage, retro, shorts, necklines, leather jackets, relaxed and comfort tailoring, semi-open trousers and layering.
Must-have item: Prada men’s bucket hats with a coin purse on the back and two holes in which to put sunglasses.
Video format: Prada accompanied with Richie Hawtin techno soundtrack.
Buying process: Digital format except for some brands hosting a showroom in Paris. Brands have done a very good job to allow us to buy in the best possible conditions.
General comment on the season: General desire of summer and freedom, parties, joy and the feeling of a return to the sources and origins.
Sam Lobban, senior vice president of designer and new concepts at Nordstrom:
Favorite Collections: Prada, Fendi, Ermenegildo Zegna, Brunello Cucinelli and Massimo Alba.
General comment on the season: We love the bright, light and joyous use of color, texture and shape across the board in Milan. Almost all of the designers spoke to some version of reflecting on what has transpired over the past 18 months and gladly reemerging into the world with a renewed sense of optimism and joie de vivre. Be that the super cool beach-ready Prada collection, the functional and elegant take at Fendi or Alessandro Sartori’s continued exploration into what tailoring can look and feel like at Zegna. Cucinelli’s light and airy mix of sporty and suit feels spot on for what we see our customer moving to, and last but not least, we’re big fans of what Massimo Alba has been doing to build his own world of quietly luxurious, elevated but casual sportswear.
Riccardo Tortato, head of buying departments and men’s fashion director at Tsum in Moscow and DLT in St. Petersburg:
Favorite collections: Brunello Cucinelli
Best presentation concept: Ermenegildo Zegna
Trendspotting: New suiting
Must-have item: Kiton tuxedo
Budgets: Possible increase
Buying process: We were buying live in most of the showrooms also during the pandemic and we keep doing so now. We have always been welcomed by a majority of the brands and I am happy to start to see more colleagues around.
General comment on the season: It is the beginning of the return to normal. I highly appreciated all the brands that did live fashion shows or presentations. I thought and hoped that many more brands would have supported the fashion system with physical events in Milan. I think during the fashion week in September we will see several coed fashion shows.
I was personally touched by the end of the Armani fashion show. Mr. Armani was the first to close the showroom and to adapt strict safe measurement and one of the firsts to [have restarted] with a magic live show. Overall I liked Brunello Cucinelli’s message that after a “stay-home year” celebrated the suit and the Italian good taste, as well Kiton that bravely presented a capsule dedicated to tuxedos and eveningwear.
Andrea Selvi, senior buyer at LuisaViaRoma
Favorite collections: Ermenegildo Zegna was my favorite, thanks to the new possibilities it offered in terms of mixing tailoring and innovative fabrics with tonal ensembles and androgynous silhouettes. Prada, which saw more Raf Simons’ influences, is pushing all men’s customers to get out after the pandemic.
Best presentation concept: Sunnei’s presentation was very strong and innovative, bringing a futuristic vision [of fashion].
Trendspotting: Happiness therapy. After this long lockdown period, designers pushed [men] to have fun for next summer: From MSGM to Dolce & Gabbana, we have seen a lot of fresh colors, glitters and beach- and party-ready attire. All the fabrics were soft in keeping with the comfort that men discovered last year.
Must-have item: The very “short” Bermuda pants.
Video format: Prada was the best with its fantastic decor and great Sardinian beaches.
Budgets: We continued the trend of last season, increasing spending on the men’s categories.
Buying process: The buying team will attend Pitti in Florence, and will be back to the showrooms in Milan and Paris for high-budget buying sessions, while for emerging brands we will continue to buy through their online platforms.
General comment on the season: After looking at Milan Fashion Week, we feel a lot of optimism for 2022.
Mytheresa men’s buying team:
Favorite collections: Prada
Best presentation concept: Prada
Trendspotting: Bags and general accessorizing with sunglasses, hats and other accessories continue to be key to current men’s wear trends. The use of pastel colors also appeared prominently.
Must-have item: Fendi sandals and Prada hats.
Video format: Prada
Buying process: This season, we are doing a mix of physical and virtual appointments.
General comment on the season: We like what we have seen so far, especially with reference to styling, which has shown strong layering mixed with accessories and bags to complete full looks. The pastel color palette has also been quite interesting and enticing to see. We most certainly are looking forward to seeing what’s to come in Paris.
Daniel Todd, buying manager at Mr Porter:
Favorite collections: Prada, Brunello Cucinelli and A-Cold-Wall.
Best presentation concept: Ermenegildo Zegna
Trendspotting: Relaxed and comfortable tailoring, bright and bold prints.
Must-have item: Prada bucket hat
Video format: Tod’s “Under the Italian Sun,” it left me dreaming of a summer holiday in Tuscany.
Buying process: Our teams are not traveling this season so we will be conducting all our buys through remote appointments via the digital showrooms.
General comment on the season: This season there is a general sense of escapism and freedom across the spring 2022 collections with a relaxed and informal aesthetic. Structured styles are reimagined in loose, relaxed shapes with light and bright hues dominating.
Damien Paul, head of men’s wear at Matchesfashion:
Favorite collections: Prada and Fendi
Best presentation concept: Prada, the beach was truly transportive.
Trendspotting: Flashes of flesh — shorts, bare arms, fluid fabrics, summer tailoring.
Must-have item: Short shorts and skirts
General comment on the season: Fun is back — we are ready to go out.