The Spring/Summer 2021 fashion month braved a new world of digital enterprises, from Instagram releases, to artistic fashion films as well as livestreamed and socially distanced in-person runway shows. Despite being an atypical season, designers didn’t disappoint by bringing us a series of standout trends which celebrate the prevailing power of creativity and innovation as an antidote to difficult times. From tonal dressing to the Bermuda shorts, here’s our round up of 10 major trends of Spring/Summer 2021.
We’ll spare you the galore of florals this season and instead, turn your attention to abstract pattern for your print fix. Artsy prints ruled the runways – bringing both major colour and pattern to all the top collections. Serving as a distraction and joy when we need them most during these troubled times, the prints were channelled in the form of suiting at BOSS and Alexander McQueen. JW Anderson opted for a more fun and juxtaposing wallpaper prints in the form of dresses and coats, while Berluti delivered a volcanic-inspired pattern through a partnership with ceramic artist Brian Rochefort.
Last Spring found us in a sea of pastel colours, an indication that the hues actually work for spring. Expanding on that idea for S/S ’21 is minimal and light tonal dressing that offers softer takes on the silhouette that is perfect for cutting through the chaos of the world. This trend is best worn in elegantly cut suiting, as was so elegantly demonstrated at Italian tailoring powerhouse like Salvatore Ferragamo as well as Micheal Kors and Bottega Veneta. Other brilliant proposals came from minimalist brands like Jil Sander, Lemaire and Officine Generale which blended sensuous silhouettes with effortless sophistication –perfectly capturing the minimal way men want to dress today.
Utility workwear seems to be running at an all-time high and are showing no signs of abating. It has been trending for a while now, with the heavily pocketed jackets and cargo pants reaching fever pitch at S/S ’20 runways. But this season, the trends fall somewhere between chic safari and modern military channeling in the form of jumpsuits, field jackets, vests and shop coats. N. Hoolywood and Juun.J coolly propose the classic field jackets, while at Celine, Hedi Slimane presented the camouflage print vest for his TikTok boys. But the overall message is clear: make yourself (and outfit) useful.
Nothing but Craft
We’re in time where fashion is consumed primarily through the screen, making the nuances of how clothes are made and how they feel easy to forget. An intellectual group of designers like Kim Jones, JW Anderson, Riccardo Tisci and Alejandro Gómez Palomo are now returning rich, tactile craft to the forefront of the luxury conversation as some sort of pushback against the banality and genericness that passes for style these days. The immaculate tailoring, tactility and unexpected details enlivened the pieces to satisfy our desire for purely aesthetic pleasures and newness, as that something feels perfectly right now.
Bermuda shorts are back. While short shorts trend has been making its round for several seasons now, baggy Bermudas staged a triumphant comeback on the S/S ’21 digital runways. Putting a twist on the classic suit, Dior Men, Gucci and Ermenegildo Zegna embraced the Bermuda short suit for this season while at Dolce & Gabbana and Fendi patterns prevailed. The key to wearing this is to pick a pair that finish just above the knee, and to make a statement with your footwear. Tip: stop skipping leg day and you’re good to go.
Having spent so much time indoors, designers offer an invitation to travel and share different cultures through cultural references, traditional impressions and postcard atmosphere in their pieces. Casablanca’s Charaf Tajer found his inspiration to create a psychedelic collection when he spent part of the confinement period in Maui, Hawaii while Riccardo Tisci conjured a sea-centric collection for Burberry as he spent his lockdown gardening and cooking with his 92 year-old mother in their family home near Lake Como. Black Lives Matter movement also has sparked the multicultural awakening this season as designers like Virgil Abloh used all-Black collaborators for his S/S ’21 outing for Louis Vuitton and Greg Lauren directly inspired by quilts of Gee’s Bend, the historic Black community in Alabama while Ahluwalia and Dior Men celebrated African art in their respective collection.
Distilling down to the basics if one approach to our current fashion conundrum, which comes down to a simple question: what do we want to wear right now? With that in mind, designers as diverse as Miuccia Prada, Jeremy Scott, Demna Gvasalia and Hedi Slimane are building cosy cashmere sets, terrycloth, knit, and cotton hoodies and zip-ups into core collections, making leisurewear a luxury fashion once more. The key is to keep it professional enough for the office, stretchy enough for the yoga mat and comfy enough for the sofa.
In The Trenches
The trench coat has earned its place as one of the most dependable heroes in modern wardrobe. Designers gave it a facelift this season by turning the familiar classic into something novel and exciting. Loewe, Etudes, Botter, Louis Vuitton and OAMC all added dreamy tactical updates via brocade panels, dramatic lapels and bold sleeves while Yohji Yamamoto, and Alexander McQueen went for a voluminous twist.
Rarely does a season pass by where tailoring doesn’t dominate and this season is no different. Sharp black suiting was everywhere, wide trousers were prominent and bold shoulder had a new lease of life but perhaps the most standout tailoring trend was the boxy, oversized double-breasted suits which had pride of place at Ermenegildo Zegna, Etro, Casablanca, E Tautz, Lemaire and Wooyoungmi. Designed to be worn open and either as part of a suit or with casual separates, the baggier your suit, the better.
Timeless and beloved but always playing the safe foil to showier pieces, stripes once again made itself heard amidst tonal dressing this season. Keep traditional pattern was seen in various incarnations across the cities, finding itself on classic poplin style at Hermès, in chic outwears at Homme Plisse Issey Miyake, turned into a shirt dress at JW Anderson and embracing its more traditional roots at Zegna. Lanvin, Botter, Kiko Kostadinov, Louis Gabriel Nouchi and Sunnei were among the others to make stripes work.
This story first appeared in the March 2021 issue of Men’s Folio Malaysia.