Traditionally, womenswear has formed the lion’s share of the world luxury market, but the balance has shifted / Marco Dabbicco

The tastes of the fashion world reflect deeper rumblings in popular culture

My take-away from the autumn/winter 2015 menswear collections across Milan and Paris? Women are the new men. That’s not a feminist statement. Rather, it’s a comment on the current tastes of the fashion world.

Frequently, those tastes reflect deeper rumblings in popular culture: the fabric on our backs a physical manifestation of the fabric of society. This season’s favourite catwalk conceit: parading women amongst the men at catwalk shows, including those of Gucci, Raf Simons, No. 21 and more.

Doing so usually serves to irritate menswear press and buyers. Perhaps because female fashion is still perceived as more worthy of our time and money than menswear. Traditionally, womenswear has formed the lion’s share of the world luxury market, but the balance has shifted. The menswear-dominated markets in the  Far East may be leading the way, but according to Mintel, the UK menswear market grew 18 per cent between 2008 and 2013, to reach £12.9bn in 2013.

So, why bring in the girls now? Surely it’s to piggyback on the burgeoning attention given to the menswear shows. Miuccia Prada was one of the first to do it. Since spring 2014, the label has showcased its womenswear pre-collections alongside its menswear designs – it makes more sense than staging a separate show for the pre-, in the manner of houses such as Chanel and Dior. Especially because Miuccia Prada oversees both her menswear and womenswear, and there’s a common concept between the two. Look at the flat-packed, heavily-shod, almost-all-nylon collections she showed for him and her earlier this month in Milan. They were, literally, cut from the same cloth.

This season Mrs Prada explained herself in print – a manifesto placed on each and every seat in the show. “Gender is a context and context is often gendered,” she expounded. Doesn’t sound like she’s just talking about nylon, but rather a whole way of looking at fashion – as a bigger picture, applicable to men and women. Both equal.

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Miuccia Prada's collection was focused with razor-sharp intent (EPA)

Then again, so far it’s only on two catwalks a year. It remains to be seen whether men are as equal as women when it comes to the all-important February womenswear collections.

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