Menswear has officially arrived. As today heralds new beginnings for a market, which has long sat on the very furthest edge of fashion’s landscape and in the murky shadows of its women’s counterpart, menswear has been given an independent voice of its own.
As the first ever menswear-only fashion week showcase, The London Collections: Men kicks off (rather than a day’s event lagging after womenswear fashion week), 90 British menswear designers are being given the chance to challenge the established men’s collections show across Milan and Paris. "This is a fabulous initiative, and one that will undoubtedly draw even more attention towards London this year. Whether you're involved in sport, fashion, media, retail, entertainment or tech, or indeed any industry, London is the place to be in 2012." - Dylan Jones, Editor GQ & Chair of the Fashion 2012 Menswear Committee.
But where has this growth sprung from?
Menswear has been given a platform by various creative industries: For example, luxury lifestyle mag Monocle, which has seen enormous success globally, and the quarterly Port, now on issue 6. And perhaps most interesting is David Beckham‘s appearance on the cover of June ELLE UK – the first male to front the mag in its 26 year history. Music is in on the trend too: look to the male triumphs of the British music scene and you’ll spot a peacock or two: the sharply attired Tinie Tempah, Professor Green and Labrinth (and we’d better include the current UK No.1 Gary Barlow). Of course, the overwhelming influence of digital days, in particular street style bloggers, including Scott Schuman who are bringing men’s style to the forefront can’t be overlooked either.
The lines really do seem to be blurring, making what has long been a female dominated arena a (slightly) more even playing field. Notable menswear designers taking the helm at design houses further imbeds the message; with Raf Simons having worked wonders at Jil Sander and now Dior and Hedi Slimane taking over at Yves Saint Laurent.
The event is being championed by some of the men’s industry’s biggest names as sales figures show a strong growth over the last quarter and a strong enough fanbase to warrant such a showcase. Both leading retailers Topman showed a rise by 19.48% and Mr Porter who showed growth by 15.67%, are testament to the surge currently going on in menswear. And whilst Topman reflects a high street consumer base, the designer led, Mr Porter is illustrative that the surge in sales represents all ends of the market, including the online shopper. Designers such as Christopher Shannon, E Tautz, and James Long all key menswear names, who have previously slotted into the single day affair after women’s fashion week, all saw online growth both in A/W 12/13 editorial and S/S12 sales.
It will be interesting to see how this new showcase goes onto contribute to these increasing figures over the next couple of months.