Dec 06, 2018 | By Jane Boddy
California style was once considered the furthest thing from fashionable. The Golden State is often associated with loose attitudes, laid-back lifestyles, and leisure time spent at the beach rather than shopping. Louche T-shirts, frayed jeans, and beat-up Vans were viewed as anti-fashion, so how ironic is it that these sorts of items are now some of menswear’s most prevalent pieces?
As comfort, quality, and lifestyle become signifiers of luxury for male consumers, it’s only natural that Los Angeles’ burgeoning menswear scene has gained a new spotlight. The recently departed Saint Laurent creative director Hedi Slimane made waves when he moved the house’s studio to LA, and one of New York Fashion Week: Men’s most-anticipated shows is John Elliott, a LA-based designer known for his zippered knitwear and slim sweatpants made from custom-milled jersey fabrics.
In addition, LA’s varied, multicultural youth subcultures have provided the kind of social friction necessary for cultivating decidedly “anti” perspectives that fuel truly subversive street-informed lines. Guillermo Andrade’s 424 on Fairfax has become a cultural hub that has branched out into its own collection. Consisting of everything from graphic hoodies commenting on police brutality to wool overcoats and distressed denim jackets outfitted with militaristic armbands—another nod to the modern-day police state—it creates a dystopian context for the collection’s rebellious attitude. Also of note is art collective Brain Dead, which has grown into a cult skate label known for collaborative, upscale graphics with artists like Jen Shear.
One of the most promising new labels is Second/Layer, founded in 2013 by Joshua Willis and Anthony Franco, drawing heavily on California’s Hispanic subcultures and rich style history. Their latest collection, shown at New York Fashion Week: Men’s and Capsule Tradeshow, features elevated bomber jackets with simple graphics, shadow plaids, and other key men’s trends we highlighted from the Las Vegas Tradeshows.
The growing men’s market in the West Coast is further supported by a growing retail scene. Fairfax Avenue remains a streetwear mainstay, but plenty of action is happening on La Brea Avenue, with the recent opening of shops like flagships from Stone Island, STAMPD, and New Zealand streetwear brand I Love Ugly. With menswear moving more towards an overall casual direction, silhouettes becoming roomier, and easy-wearing staples becoming more prominent than traditional tailored items like suiting, ties, and tapered trousers, expect California to continue to evolve as a hotbed for men’s fashion.
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