How the catwalk fashion of London's menswear stars is changing your wardrobe

Without you knowing it, catwalk fashion influences the clothes of the everyman

Alexander Fury
Monday 15 June 2015 16:54 BST
Catwalk style infiltrates even the less fashion-conscious man's wardrobe
Catwalk style infiltrates even the less fashion-conscious man's wardrobe (Getty Images)

No insult to the stalwart staff of The Independent, but working in our office gets me thinking. Namely, about how much high fashion really affects the garb of your everyday bloke. That’s not to say The Indy lot are dreary dressers. They’re just not, well, very… fashion.

I include myself in that generalisation. Because fashion, for men, is frequently cringe-inducing.

I’m not supposed to say that – certainly not when I’m in the middle of the opening leg of a now-five city slog. And not when I’m a vocal supporter of the exciting, enticing talents of fashion’s menswear stars. In London those stars are especially bright – my favourites are Craig Green, JW Anderson, Astrid Andersen and Christopher Shannon. All are immensely talented and relatively young. (Even Anderson, LVMH-minority-owned though he is, is barely 30.) They have their fans, too. But you don’t see their clothes on men in the street much.

Debate rages about fashion’s need to reflect reality (generally the bugbear is skinny models) but that isn’t its primary purpose. Catwalk fashion is about ideas first and foremost. Those ideas may not end up on your back in their pure, undiluted form – or even with the same designer’s label attached – but they’re infiltrating. Even in menswear, and even into The Independent offices. There are a fair few blokes who wear skinny jeans here; their popularity sprang on the one hand from indie rock bands, but also from designers like Hedi Slimane (once at Dior Homme, now doing very much the same at Saint Laurent), who dressed the selfsame bands in high-fashion versions of the same clobber. And the cropped trouser – a proportion popularised by the shrunken suits of American agent provocateur Thom Browne – is out in force.

Both Browne and Slimane are noted for looks that have become blueprints, rather than mere seasonal must-haves. Blueprints for their own aesthetics, sure. (Ten years in, and Slimane’s boys are still stick-thin, Browne’s trews still ankle-exposing.) But they’ve also fundamentally shifted menswear. And so, I think, could the clothes of strong London designers such as Andersen, Shannon and Green and Anderson. Menswear filters down in subtler ways than womenswear. But, without the seasonal eschewing of styles, it allows new ideas to grow on you – and to actually shift the axes of style, rather than just tinker with the superficial trimmings. It’s the equivalent of re-sinking your foundations rather than just changing your wallpaper. It’s structural, not just aesthetic.

My point? It’s that, without even knowing it, the extremes of catwalk fashion are affecting the clothes of the everyman.

Even you.

Let the complaints flood in…

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