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How to nail the smart-casual trend for men

Spring/summer 2017 has seen menswear designers abandon the rigid rules of tailoring in favour of a more modern approach. From Prada to Gucci, Ermenegildo Zegna to Berluti, we round up the must-buy labels and items to make sure you nail the smart-casual dressing trend

Ruairidh Pritchard
Ruairidh Pritchard ,

When it comes to menswear, traditional tailoring and design principles have always reigned supreme. Even the most adventurous designers have stayed true to the time-honoured conventions of menswear design when crafting their collections – until this season, that is. As lives change, so do fashions, and leading menswear brands from across the world are adapting their offerings to suit our modern lives.

Casual catwalks
There’s been a noticeable change of direction on the catwalks of London, Paris and Milan this season, with a noticeable shift away from rigidity towards a more casual approach and a relaxing of fashion rules. And while this is perhaps not unusual considering the roster of emerging menswear designers in their 20s and 30s who are dominating the menswear scene globally, it’s a change that can also be seen on the shopping streets of Germany’s menswear capital, Frankfurt. It’s an acknowledged retail destination when it comes to impeccable menswear, so it comes as no surprise that the city’s best boutiques for men are offering pieces that embrace this loosening of the rules.

Recently, some of the most renowned menswear stores on Frankfurt’s famed Goethestrasse have welcomed collections with a distinctly more contemporary turn. This season Italian superbrand Prada, for example, delivered a menswear collection inspired by the idea of ‘the voyager’, with playful prints, utility-style pockets, oversized backpacks, neon-bright sandals and leggings in place of trousers all pointing towards a new, less rigid menswear dress code.

Gucci, one of the fashion labels that pioneered the now classic menswear look, also took the notion of travel as a key influence this season. Menswear’s man of the moment, creative director Alessandro Michele, translated themes of voyage and adventure into a melange of colour, texture, pattern and print to signal the brand’s new and more wearable direction.

Ermenegildo Zegna
Ermenegildo Zegna’s long-standing traditions have positioned the label at the pinnacle of Italian tailoring excellence. Having started life as one of Italy’s finest textile producers, it is now the go-to brand for those who seek the perfect suit, making the Ermenegildo Zegna store on Goethestrasse a haven for men in Frankfurt looking to own a piece of fine Italian tailoring. But alongside its continued commitment to classic craft, style and excellence, the brand is also committed to remaining at the forefront of men’s fashion. Season after season, the collections display a shift towards a more modern conception of man – subtle twists take its tailoring into a less formal arena.

For spring/summer 2017, this means an adventurous play on classic cuts, and a creative use of fabrics and texture that elevates the traditional aspects of classic menswear. The biggest contemporary twists include jackets cut longer with softer shoulders, trouser legs cut wider and less rigidly, and short-sleeved shirts with revere collars. The overall effect is a nod towards the relaxed chic of the Italian Riviera, rather than the stricter sartorial rules of Rome.

Rounding out Frankfurt’s newly modernised menswear landscape is Berluti. In its flagship store, which faces the Ermenegildo Zegna boutique on Goethestrasse, Berluti’s luxury creations have been the epitome of French masculine design since the label launched in 1895 as a shoemaker in Paris. The brand’s roster has grown to include a full ready-to-wear menswear collection, and for spring/summer this, too, has turned a distinctly contemporary corner.

This season’s offering includes light woollen sweatshirts, knitted bomber jackets with suede sleeves, unstructured leather jackets and relaxed denim chambray. It has the confident look of a collection made with a sound knowledge of traditional sartorial rules, but focused on pieces that are truly wearable day after day. The inclusion of sneakers and backpacks further reinforces the impression that this more-than-a-century-old brand is designing firmly for the present day, offering a collection that seamlessly ties together high-quality materials and craftsmanship to create contemporary clothes for the contemporary man.

With brands such as Prada, Gucci, Ermenegildo Zegna and Berluti all ushering in new concepts of menswear design into what has traditionally been a tailoring-led stronghold, it’s clear that the menswear landscape – whether across Frankfurt’s shopping district or globally – has never been as exciting, or as compatible with modern life, as it is today.



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