To say that the political environment has affected fashion would be an understatement. But it is truly refreshing and gratifying to see designers using their platforms to convey more than just their styles and trends, but taking a step back to enlighten and inform others of their points of view. New York Mens Day (NYMD), held at the financial capital of New York at Dune Studios, showcased several such designers against a backdrop of a setting sun at New York Fashion Week Mens (NYFWM).
Starting with one of my favorite designers and humblest of people (couples, actually!), Robert James had the most poignant of all presentations. With a backdrop of military videos against his models holding up signs of protest with #WomensMarch, #RefugeesWelcome and more, he made a clear statement about the political environment. The styles themselves were heavily military inspired, with materials that were resistant to preserve oneself while protesting. In line with Pantone’s forecasted green for the season, I enjoyed the textural tonalities of green in an abundance of well shaped outerwear. One of my favorite looks was a model in skinny jeans with a khaki jacket, a beanie, a neckerchief and matching military hightop boots – timeless, and aptly holding up a sign saying #IAMAmerica. Truly my favorite collection of the showcase.
Private Policy followed a similar route, focusing on the ever changing landscape of modern globalization, and took a more poetic metaphor of “polycephaly”: a condition of having many heads. These symbolized a nation’s beliefs, identities and interests that were a melting pot of its differences, and relaying a notion that a body cannot survive without the heads collaborating. There were plenty of collaging and graphic patterns, with biker jackets, a bright multi country graphic suit, and the hidden meanings behind suspenders and harnesses for interconnectivity. I liked the juxtaposition of velvet with denim, of plastic with cotton, and the contrast of bright neon colors with darker ones. The tattoos of disturbing words like “Terrorism” or “Violent” amplified the message of the Downtown New York brand.
Woodhouse believed that 2016 brought the worst of humanity out in people, and 2017 has the potential to bring out the best. By trying to influence the way we dress, communicate and present ourselves, the brand made the start of the new generation and newer attitude in a way that was unexpected, unusual and perceptive, both in its style and identity. So the shift in placements of things like logos, buttons and labels made for a whimsical collection with a deep rooted metaphor of change and perception. Black leather and plush bomber jackets, interlaced with military green ones, had graphic writing across them and accented with fur or suede. Joggers were complete with drawstrings on the calfs, scarves were in tee material, collars were exaggerated or overturned with writing and joggers were labelled with a Right and Left sign on the opposing legs, again altering perception! The latter was a favorite, as well as a pink statement piece of athleisure-wear with the words “You Don’t Want to F&*K With This Little Piggy”.
R. Swiader drew inspiration from landscapes and cityscapes, with Rafal Swiader blended a background of his Parisian upbringing, Polish roots and Brooklyn home to create a comfortable, well crafted collection which was both serious and whimsical at once. The unusual colors conveyed liberality and openness. My favorite was obviously leopard print, one of my favorite prints of all time! And thankfully still in the reckoning as a full fledged shirt for days and nights alike.
Confident and clean lines were a staple for Italian brand David Naman, with preppy, boyish and fun styles in a plethora of colors. From khaki trench coats to navy sweats, teal corduroy jackets to a monogrammed grey coat, a blue peacoat with red velvet pants, the styles were uber wearable. Given my penchant for high octane color, this was an alluring staple.
I could resonate well with the political drivers of many of these designers, which now, more than ever, is an emotion seeking any medium of communication. And channeling it via fashion at one of the biggest fashion events worldwide is the definition of successful communication.