By: DeoVonte “Deo” Means
On this past Saturday, I ventured to Michigan Ave. and Oak St. for what has become my seasonal “connect” with the owners, clientelle specialist and sales personnel of my favorite stores. It’s always a doozy partaking in these connects, because it allows me to catch up on the trends and tea of the season. Not to mention, who can turn down glasses of Pinot Noir? More importantly, because I’m not wealthy and try to be financially savvy; it allows me the opportunity to get a first glimpse at what’s in the stores. I can then strategically plan what pieces are essential “must haves” of the season. Relationship building is also a fundamental goal. The clientelle specialist is normally one of the first to know when major sales and events will take place, which allows you to purchase your item at much discounted rates. Immediately embarking upon this odyssey, I realized, the spring/summer 2015 landscape for menswear is going to be interesting and entertaining. Traditionally, fashion has always been composed of two competing factions. They tend to be polar opposites, yet manage to co-exist. On one hand, you have what we call the Nouveau Fashionisto; which tends to be more into a pompous logo, heavy embellishments and trendy accessories. And then you have the Sophisticated Connoisseur of Style. They tend to be more into elegant investment pieces that possess artistry and are timeless. After a days’ worth of conversations, observations and fittings; I am confident the perennial battle between the two opposing factions has climaxed into what will be an all-out Jihad of men’s fashion on the streets. Let the games begin!!!
Many designers such as Versace, Louboutin and Jimmy Choo has transitioned from the historically elegant & selective essence of their brand; and are now producing a product that is marketed towards the trendy Nouveau Fashionisto. Their collections are laced with heavy embellishments, chains, bold colors & patterns, logos and varnish; while their prices have been inflated. This inflation occurs, not because of quality of product/design, but because of the demand and accessibility. Every urban, street-corner, drug -dealer has at least one pair of Louboutins. They are paraded around and glorified in gangsta rap videos, while pocket-change strippers “make it clap” to the melody. This demographic is new to the art of luxury. So they need items that quickly scream “I have a dollar.”…What better than a pair of $1200.00 Versace tennis shoes, adorned with a huge gold medusa. Speaking of Versace. When has Versace ever had a $1200.00 tennis shoe? Luxury is not about the price, it’s about the investment and long-term profitability. Since the death of Gianni, Versace has NOT been able to keep its head above water for a full 5 years straight. This makes for a volatile investment. A $1200.00 Versace tennis shoe today can be worthless in two years when the company takes another hit in the PR department. It’s O.K to enjoy trendy pieces, but once again, the market value should be equal to the long-term value of the product. There are only so many times a consumer can wear a leopard-print, – chain-link adorned tennis shoe before it becomes dated and unrecyclable. Personally, I have “pieces” that are over 10 years old and I am still able to effectively recycle them into a new outfit and turn heads. That’s called a good investment with great returns… Trendy has its place, but who wants to walk into a dinner party or afternoon luncheon looking like a gangsta rap star? I’m sure, many will rush out to get the latest Medusa shirt, MCM Bag or varnished tennis shoe; but keep in mind, style is not supposed to scream “I got my income taxes back”. Style is supposed to whisper, “I am knowledgeable, savvy and appreciate artistry and luxury.
Then there are designers such as Dior, Ferragamo, Etro and Givenchy. This season they’ve shown that they are leading the pack when it comes to menswear. They’ve maintained a cognoscente eye towards cut, design, functionality, long-term value and sophistication. Luckily for us – in true form to the machination of fashion- their aesthetic is being trickled down and duplicated through other more affordable yet respected brands such as Zara and Top Man. Even through a sea of people, it was evident walking the Ave, that the men who are embracing this style are drawn to the idea of being sophisticated connoisseurs of style. They are commodifying and branding themselves through their style and have effectively found ways to distinguish themselves from the urban trendy. Please do not be mistaken. They are not lacking when it comes to individuality and artistic expression. They’re just taking a more gentlemanly and cultured way about it. I call this style “The urban yuppie”
Matted Pastels are huge this summer! Colors such as salmon, cantaloupe, sky, lemon and moss are oftentimes paired with a soft denim or beige to give a summer artsy look. Floral and paisley print is everywhere in the collections! This is a personal favorite of mines because it adds a romantic and alluring touch to even the most basic pant. Soft natural fabrics are huge this season which increases the wear ability and versatility of the garment. Suede shoes have returned in a wide variety of colors with intricate detailing. Funky oxfords, loafers, boat shoes and driving shoes are always chic, but even the most conservative man is beginning to add an extra jolt of personality into footwear by wearing a creative and contrasting sock. Look for this trend to be huge again this summer. Also returning this summer, but bigger and better than ever, is bold color blocking and pattern mixing. Using colors such as maraschino, eggplant, turquoise and tangerine, men are producing color/pattern combos that one would never imagine to work…but it does…and it’s sexy…Think a male version of Solange.
Fairly new but very prevalent this season is short shorts and crop tops. But here lies the dichotomy. Traditionally, these garments have been identified as feminine. Most men would cringe at the thought of showing their lower thighs in public. And cut-off crop tops evoke more of a casual/gym feel. But the likes of Pharell, Rocky A$AP, August Alsina and Victor Cruz has made us more comfortable trying these daring styles in more sophisticated looks and realizing it could work. The trick to pulling this off is two-fold. First, your body needs to be in at least semi-good shape. As this is a more European style, it would probably work best for those whom are smaller. Secondly, because these are traditionally more feminine looks, in order to do it perfectly, it needs to be leveraged and balanced out with the perfect amount of masculinity. Short shorts with blazers or ties tend to be most popular. Lastly, nothing says style like a nice coat. This season, there are many options for modernized spring coats in and in cool colors and varying lengths. A light coat for the evening can add allure to any gentlemen’s outfit.
Sophisticated men are having fun with their dressing and evoking a since of personality into their clothes. It’s a time for menswear and this summer should show who the real tastemakers are. Regardless of price point, there is utterly no reason to look a mess this season because the stores are overflowing with some of the best selections I’ve seen in seasons. Check out additional examples below…Cheers…Deo