Sportswear steals the show at Milan Men's Fashion Week

Attractive, young and sporty: this was the male paradigm in evidence during the four days from June 15 to 18 at the Milan Fashion Week Men. Granted, some labels featured the occasional grey-haired fifty-year-old on their catwalks, like Dolce & Gabbana or Billionaire, but they were the exception. The main trend observed at the fashion week for the Spring/Summer 2019 collections, which ended in Milan on Monday, was the predominant role assumed by sportswear.


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Ermenegildo Zegna is going down the athletic couture road - © PixelFormula

“It’s a trend that will endure for some years to come. Sportswear and streetwear won’t lose their supremacy anytime soon, especially with young people! It’s actually what enables us to increase our revenue these days,” said an Italian retailer talking to FashionNetwork.com.

Ermenegildo Zegna was the label which best embodied this change in direction, pulling off a genuine aesthetic revolution under the aegis of Alessandro Sartori, who has managed to saturate this icon of traditional Italian luxury menswear with an edgy mood. Sartori banned traditional suits from his new wardrobe, introducing a mix of genres, motifs and models while staying true to Zegna’s high level of sophistication and refinement.

Elsewhere, suits made the occasional cameo, but de-contextualised and with a mix-and-match approach. For example, Versace combined a pinstripe jacket with jeans, and vice versa, while Prada featured jackets in one colour worn with trousers in another. More often than not, suits were taken down a stylistic peg or two, worn with turtleneck sweaters or floral tops, reinterpreted with puffy trousers by Sunnei, or featured in flashy colours and patchwork fabrics by Dolce & Gabbana.


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Surfwear by M1992 - © PixelFormula

Indeed, sportswear has gained the upper hand. Besides the ubiquitous sneakers, it is the entire men’s wardrobe which has radically changed. In the last few seasons, it already veered towards a more relaxed, casual style, but now the accent is unambiguously on sports models.

Starting from the tracksuit, which emerged as the new menswear staple. There was no end of twin-coloured tracksuit tops and trousers in jersey or nylon, with lateral piping and a full palette of colours, models and materials. Dsquared2 even dared to present them in leather.

The influence of sportswear was evident in the bright, fluorescent colours, and in the high-tech materials used, from ultra-light nylon and polyester, to silk like parachute canvas and neoprene. Also, in silhouettes directly inspired by the world of sports: the short surfing wetsuit by M1992, swimmers in bathrobes and swim caps at Marni, football referees at Represent, tennis players at Plein Sport, and elsewhere, socks and striped jerseys typical of rugby kits, and others variations on the sport theme.


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At Neil Barrett, shorts are worn under raincoats - © PixelFormula

Shorts cropped up everywhere, in all shapes and sizes, from the tight cycling version to the shorter running models and the comfier football shorts. Miuccia Prada for example offered a brand new twist with a micro-sized printed model looking like vintage 1970s swimming trunks. Pairs of shorts were often layered one on top of another, as young men do these days, wearing underpants under their board shorts.

Then, on Monday, there could have been no sportier ending to the fashion week than the Aalto womenswear show, featuring athletic models running the length of the catwalk. This edition of the Milan Fashion Week was slimmer, owing to a number of withdrawals, but added fresh interest with a spate of co-ed shows, as well as shows and presentations for some women’s pre-collections (besides Aalto, those by Alberta Ferretti and Stella McCartney). Buyers did not complain, as they prefer the quicker presentations, less time-consuming than catwalk shows.

This fashion week will be remembered also for two shows that were held in spectacular venues, two modern architecture icons within the city of Milan: the Ermenegildo Zegna show, staged at the headquarters of publisher Mondadori, in a sumptuous building designed by Brazilian legend Oscar Niemeyer, and the show by Sunnei, held on the top floor of the Gio Ponti-designed Pirelli tower.
 

Translated by Nicola Mira

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