“In the past few years progressive fashion brands have sought to attract new audiences that are considering gender issues with greater flexibility than previous generations,” the British GQ wrote last November. But it is big companies that turn out to be less agile when it comes to abandoning the old principles. Not all of them are currently ready to give men the right to sensuality and artistry. There is one avant-garde sensualist, however, Alessandro Michele, whose courage and sense of humour helped to start revolutionising the menswear landscape. We discuss other menswear brands that are on a journey to more sensual menswear.
Very often designers are diving deep into exploring their ethnic roots. They find that people who have maintained a close relationship with nature are not overloaded with social stereotypes of economically developed countries. For Grace Wallace Bonner, born in London into an international family (her father grew up in Jamaica, her mother is English) and graduated from Central Saint Martins, this approach to design was a pass to world fashion. In 2016, the designer won the prestigious LVMH Prize competition, showing her view of the subtle masculinity and becoming one of the first heroes of this new sensual menswear wave. At first, she worked with silhouette costumes made of sophisticated fabrics like velvet and velour, showing them on exclusively black models. Over time her aesthetics “matured”, became less theatrical, although even simple items are still inspired by her roots. 28-year-old Wallace Bonner was in the list of 500 influential people in the industry according to Business of Fashion, and this already means a lot.
British designer Patrick Church, who lives and works in New York, is open to various forms of art. In fact, the clothes he creates are the continuation of his paintings. His sensual menswear is a kaleidoscope of bright and black-and-white, naive and frank drawings in which he explores the topic of sexuality. He mixes it with experiences from his own personal life, creating tight trousers, T-shirts, pyjama sets, leggings and underwear. Patrick paints some things by hand: vintage leather jackets or bags from luxury brands, turning them into independent works of art. This was the beginning of his passion for fashion design – he worked as a DJ and, could not figure out what to wear, so decided to paint his jacket. In an interview, Church admitted that he always dreamed of working with Gucci. Well, that would be a very logical collaboration.
Bobby Abley launched his own sensual menswear brand in 2012. At the start, he was supported by Topman, which regularly selects several talented designers to organize a show. Since then, the designer has been generating topics for discussion quite regularly. In the epicentre of his collections are sincerity and irony. All this reflects the values of the generation of the current 30-year-olds. Either they did not have time to grow up or managed to re-enter childhood with their love for video games, comics, fantastic TV shows and animated characters. There are many fragments of pop culture in Bobby’s collections. He references Star Wars, Ariel, Bunny and many other characters. The hero of the recent Men’s Fashion Week collection presentation was the charming Pokémon Pikachu, who even went out to bow with the designer.
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Text: Irina Gorskaia
Images: WWD, Vogue UK