Clean, tailored suits a must in menswear this fall

By Caryn Rousseau

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Feb. 17 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

NEW YORK — Designers at New York Fashion Week offered fall collections filled with tailored suits and trendy looks for men, and that's a good thing because men are looking to buy.

Ed Jay, senior vice president for American Express Business Insights, said male fashion customers were exposed to luxury when prices came down during the recession. Analytics from IBM show a projected 8.2 percent rise in men's sales from 2010 to 2011, and sales are expected to continue to grow in the first three months of 2012.

"What we've seen coming out of the recession, you have new brands just for men," Jay said. "There's more for men to buy."

Designers and style watchers say suits are the hot sellers.

"It's about guys who are 30 buying suits," said Tyler Thoreson, head of Gilt Groupe's menswear editorial and creative divisions. "The sort of traditional boxy suit your dad wore to work is not what these guys are wearing. What these guys are wearing is less formal and it's much more stylish."

Men have started following fashion blogs and they're looking to dress up, said menswear designer Michael Bastian.

"The customer, this young guy, is really educated, reads every blog, is all over the Internet and he really has high expectations with his tailored clothing," Bastian said.


Tommy Hilfiger told the story of a young cadet's military and sporty lifestyle in his fall men's collection.

"It is an academy look that is sophisticated, modern, a touch rebellious but buttoned up," he said. The show's notes called the line "a personalized take on military precision."

The military theme ran through nearly every piece, from four stripes at the wrist cuffs of coats to peacoats with chain embroidery. Zippers detailed the thighs of skinny pants and collars flipped up to reveal leather. Quilted leather was used in gloves and on the sleeves of jackets. Patches were on the inside of elbows, not the usual outside.

There were even smaller touches too. Hilfiger showed a few turtlenecks, but one model wore a small buckled belt around his neck outside the sweater like a choker necklace.

Colors were rich autumn tones of burgundy, navy, olive and grey.


Marcus Wainwright and David Neville of Rag & Bone took cues from military and formalwear styles.

The collection showcased classic menswear — jackets, pants, vests and suits — but diverged in some pieces with wide stripes or ombre black to red prints.

The designers outfitted many of their models in black or brown officer boots. There was a peacoat, army-green long coat and an air force blue tweed coat. Leather detailed collars on tailored sweaters and coats.


Bring back the baggy pants.

Duckie Brown's design team of Steven Cox and Daniel Silver showed roomy, swingy men's pants in large plaids.

The designers played with shape for their pants, showing trousers with dropped crotches, wide legs or made with chunky sweater material. Suits were clean, focusing on two and three-button jackets in tweed and herringbone along with a black double-breasted coat.

"It's got to go away from that grungy guy," Cox said. "I think it's going to be that unkempt guy in a suit."

Cox and Silver paired their looks with winter accessories, chunky knit turban-style hats, long sweater gloves and hats made from Mongolian shearling.

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