Stella McCartney is the latest womenswear designer to debut in the lesser crowded menswear market. Senior Menswear Editor Nick Paget offers his verdict
The widely predicted and no less anticipated appearance of Stella McCartney’s debut menswear line must, despite her casual protestations in a recent Vogue interview, be a considered and careful move into a still-expanding-at-a-rate-of-knots menswear market that looks like it will continue to eclipse the growth of womenswear in most major territories for some time.
The amalgamation of mens and womens shows at some houses also puts into focus the relevance of a fashion stage where menswear and womenswear share the limelight. Bigger than the whole ‘genderless’ debate (or at least worth more $$$), the headlines surrounding co-ordinated shows and the transplanting of one gender from one fashion capital to another looks set to run and run.
Stella’s collection of well-selected must-have pieces of the season bounced lightly between items that have ‘commercial’ and ‘profit’ written all over them, and some that even have ‘members and non-members only’ knitted into intarsia designs across them. The blend of spot-on silhouettes and nuanced print and pattern motifs makes it just familiar enough to be understandable and exciting enough to be covetable. The perfect retail mash-up.
I really liked it at first glance and as I scanned the lookbook further, I began to love it for its nowness (yes I just said that) and its accessibility. While some brands get this really wrong, latching a ‘me too’ mentality onto their ill-conceived ranges which seem to misunderstand what men want and how they shop, Stella’s menswear gets it right again and again, with soccer scarves and collaged shirts blending with random knit grungey sweaters atop embellished drawstring pants or embroidered, washed denims.
I loved the knitted ‘track suits’ – fine gauge knit sweaters and joggers with sporty ribbon knit tapes; the brilliantly accessible tailoring pieces (with or without zips and snaps) and the use of frogging in a modern context to lift and add interest to key items.
The collection is intended to feel British and the nods to football casual culture and icons such as John Lydon feel close at hand, in terms of shape colour, pattern and fabric choices.
If every collection dreamed up by a womenswear stalwart looks this great, the menswear playing field is set to become crowded with influential collections that have appeal beyond the fashion crowd and trade show peacocks, lending the market some new key players who should give the establishment a run for its money!
Stella McCartney’s debut menswear line is now available for pre-order online, and will arrive in stores in January 2017.