Streetwear just found itself an unlikely champion. In a season when Virgil Abloh, the high priest of the movement, has declared its impending demise, Kris Van Assche opened his show for Berluti, the men’s wear brand best known for its patinated leather shoes, with a pair of colorful sneakers.
Granted, the model in a broad-shouldered blue suit and red turtleneck was also carrying a pair of more formal shoes in his weekender bag, which was made from Berluti’s new Signature canvas, making its catwalk debut on accessories including a collaboration with British luggage-maker Globe-Trotter.
“For me, it’s really a metaphor, a symbol of the new Berluti man, which is: comfortable in his sneakers, but also very comfortable with the heritage,” Van Assche said backstage after the show.
“I hear a lot of talk about sportswear, streetwear being over,” he acknowledged. “On a personal note, I’ve never put so much sportswear in a show — it’s just that it’s done in a lot of leathers. It’s about doing the right thing at the brand and being very clear as a positioning.”
Van Assche noted that every item in the collection featured some form of handcraft. Examples included patinated color on deerskin leather suits; black leather strips woven into houndstooth patterns, and hand-splashed white dots on a glossy calf leather peacoat.
The designer worked a wide shoulder on suit jackets and roomy coats, and bulked up his outerwear with items like a quilted leather parka and a shearling jacket with curly lining spilling out of the pockets — and even a couple of swaggering coats in colorful chevron patterns made from shearling intarsia.
Famously fond of black and white during his tenure at Dior, Van Assche has embraced color since joining Berluti, and this season ran riot with a rainbow palette inspired by the shoemaker’s patina kit. Scarlet, cobalt and emerald clashed with fluorescent pinks and a cartoonishly bright lime green.
The colorblocking extended to the chunky sneakers, a model he introduced shortly after his arrival at the house. “I literally gave everything a little bit more attitude, going from the shoulders to the shoes,” he said with a smile. “It’s a whole new adventure for me.”
If anything, the display confirmed that men’s wear etiquette long ago flew out the window. Van Assche, it seems, is happy to loosen his tie.