In the wake of London Collections: Men (LCM) I thought it was an appropriate time to take a second to look at some collections which are pushing the boundaries of what men wear and the brands that are doing very little to get us out of our limited fashion boxes.
It seems a shame that men’s high street fashion doesn’t always give us the tools to express ourselves the way we would like to. People often go for the easiest option when it comes to dressing, which can leave a man looking like a clone of the guys sat either side of him on the tube.
We are given the liberty to express ourselves through fashion and it would be a loss to waste that freedom. Some of the collections highlighted true expression and what we saw at LCM gave some real food for thought on how we can cross into new territory with the way we dress.
Jordan Spires – a young stylist and aspiring fashion PR guru – offered a professional view on how the landscape of menswear was looking: “I do think it matters if all men are dressed the same. If a man wants to express himself through clothing, why shouldn’t he?… I don’t think it’s hard to find clothes that express my style but I think that’s down to experience of the high street; I know how to filter through a lot quicker.”
It can be frustrating when you see more dramatic designer clothes in shows and you know you can’t find affordable imitations of these statement pieces. “I think a lot of the current menswear brands are influencing the high street. But the biggest are definitely the ones involved in street wear, so KTZ, Nasir Mazhar, Astrid Andersen, Christopher Shannon, Liam Hodges. I think the bridge from catwalk to high street is street wear,” Jordan said.
Nasir Mazhar was one of the standout shows at LCM which is creating a very wearable but alternative look. The Nasir Mazhar collection isn’t exactly affordable but it is quite inspiring with regards to finding ways to break out of your box.
Not everyone has the same need for overt expression through clothes, but the question is: are high street shops giving men the tools to push boundaries through fashion and express themselves the way they want to?
Jordan explained, “Zara is very much at the front of high street fashion. But, they get influenced by high fashion heavily to the point where sometimes it’s near enough an identical copy, whereas other stores like H&M and Bershka are a little more experimental within the brand itself which may be why their creative menswear is only in small flows every now and then.”
Collaborations on the high street have become a huge trend in the last few years and it allows people to access collections with designer input and more flare but at an affordable price. For example, the Alexander Wang collection for H&M and the Astrid Andersen x TopMan collaboration both challenged what we might expect from these brands.
Topman actually showed an impressive collection at their LCM show in 2015, with retro influences and over the top fur coats that really made a colourful splash.
— Topman UK (@topmanUK) January 9, 2015
But the secret, Jordan tells me, is this: “If someone wanted to stand out and set themselves apart I would say be strategical. First of all you need your basics, white and black tees, jeans in various colours etc. You can even change up your outfit using oversized tees, polo necks or different cuts. Always start with your basics and then build upon them, find unique pieces too, add colour, print, texture, or use layering for effect. Shop around and build your look bit by bit.”
Never underestimate the power of looking through your parents’ old clothes or going to thrift shops. Someone might have got rid of something that might be exactly what you are looking for to set you apart from the crowd. Don’t be constrained by what you think is “men’s” and “women’s” clothes because if it looks good then it really doesn’t matter.
And the answer is yes, you can push the boundaries by shopping on the high street, but only if you know where to look and what to look for.
Featured image Sara Furlanetto