A Guide to the Future and This Season’s Products
SSENSE Menswear Report: Fall/Winter 2016
We don’t look at Woodstock ‘99 with the same nostalgia-goggles as the original. 1969 was the summer of love, whereas ‘99 was the summer of mall counterculture: with goths, grunge kids, and metalheads freely colliding. It was the beginning of youth as a type of digital polyamory, where subcultures could intermingle without being part of a tribe. This moment is now reflected in today’s moshed and remixed runway looks. Coexistence is in.
The turtleneck does not know its limits. Where most shirts stop at the collarbone, the turtleneck creeps upwards with the confidence of James Bond. “Just try to stop me,” it says, as it tests the boundaries of the expected. This is why it is the sweater of action heroes and futuristic thinkers.
When Lyonnais silk weaver Joseph Marie Jacquard invented the first automated “jacquard” loom in 1801, he demonstrated its revolutionary ability to execute complex patterns by weaving the most intimate design of all: his own portrait. Two centuries later, we have grown accustomed to mass production, and yet ever more hungry for the idiosyncrasies of hand-work. This desire isn’t about being anti-modern, it’s about freedom and intimacy. Let’s touch and be touched.
As we move closer and closer to achieving a fully virtual existence, our own bodies have become ever more transgressive and exciting. The world of bondage and BDSM lends a dark eroticism to the latest generation of cyberpunk fashion. Flesh never looks more like flesh than when it is next to black leather, zippers, and translucent synthetics. The future is sensual.
Public transit is a bore, which is why it is important to lace in and become your own personal all-terrain vehicle. Y-3’s Qasa Boot high-tops answer this need for fluidity with a sneaker that breathes of William Gibson novels and parkour. For this year’s commute, we are cyber-hiking.
Back in 1960s Japan, the Miyuki tribe was a group of sartorially-aligned prepsters on the streets of Ginza. Labeled delinquents by the government and forcibly removed before the ‘64 Olympics, their style shows us that prep and punk do not have to be mutually exclusive. A country club dress code is a good way to allow your anarchist side to fly under the radar. And there’s a lot of trouble you can get into wearing a varsity jacket and a pair of loafers.
The apocalypse does not have to be a drag. In fact, living in a turbulent era allows us to imagine the needs and potentials of a completely new world. As we brace ourselves for the unexpected, we discover the ecstasy of only having what we need: sleek military-inspired tailoring, buy-for-life durability. We will approach an uncertain future with maximum joy.
When musician John Cage first saw Robert Rauschenberg’s series of all-white paintings in the 1950s, he remarked that they looked like “landing strips for dust particles.” This anecdote from the birth of minimalism—as well as the ever-iconic white t-shirt—reminds us that blankness is far from being nothing, it is a container for everything. Allow your white tee to collect the world as you move through it.
What is warmth? It is body heat conserved with state-of-the-art materials, but it is also the joy that radiates from within that body. Warmth is social, spiritual, and primal. Protection from the elements is a task as old as human history. In fact, it is human history.
We normally think of ripped jeans as being very 1990s, but originally the style is 1490s. 500 years ago, it was common practice for European dandies to flex their nobility and swordfighting bravado by ripping slashes into their silk outfits. A penchant for destruction is the ultimate form of sex appeal. And this “step to me” attitude lives on in our denim.
At a time when our borders are becoming increasingly contentious, and fluidity is now a scarce commodity, the wide-leg pant adamantly rejects restriction. Open movement, expanding fabric, and free mobility. Never has a bell-bottom been more utopian—or more necessary.
The proliferation of sweatpants into the menswear vernacular is proof that the notion of “work/life balance” is obsolete. The gym-home-office complex is a terrain filled with sweat, problems, and pleasure. It is a place where discipline and leisure converge into creativity. Let’s make sure we have the right outfit for the job.
In a steel-grey city frost, we often find our bodies wrapped in wool and our sexuality trapped within LCD screens. This is why architects invented the winter garden, to keep us connected year-round with the teeming romance of flowers in full bloom. Wear sensuality on your sleeve with a profusion of floral prints. As the months get cold, it’s important to align yourself with nature’s id.
In a world where we pay for most things with our phones, the wallet has been freed up to become a space of romance. We can now look at a dignified billfold—like this one by Thom Browne, with signature tri-color detailing—as a mobile library of our personal effects. It is a place to keep pictures of a lover, or stash letters for our future selves.
From street corners to mountaintops, the puffer jacket’s universal appeal can only be described as a work of everyday magic. It is light, yet irresistibly warm. It creates a masculine and imposing silhouette, yet it is endlessly huggable. But most of all, a zipped up puffer creates the ease of lying in bed anywhere in the world.