If women’s fashion moves at the speed of light, menswear has a more languid pace. For the top men’s designers, each season doesn’t bring massive sea changes. Instead, it’s subtle tweaks here and there and big shifts can take years to make their way into the average guy’s wardrobe.
It was certainly that way with skinny jeans. Initially the subject of ridicule, slimmer pants evolved to become the norm in men’s style. They still receive plenty of ignorant hate, but if you were to ask a version of Ronald Reagan’s famous question, “Are your pants slimmer than they were four years ago?” for most men, the answer would be “yes.”
Slim pants create a sleeker, more streamlined silhouette that allows the clothes to more closely mirror the body’s actual form. And if they are cut properly, guys have found that it’s possible to wear skinny pants without having to sacrifice any range of movement. The proportions of the pants also compliment the slimmer tops men have been wearing.
Of course, it wouldn’t be fashion if the pendulum didn’t swing at the same moment that one trend started achieving mainstream acceptance. Lululemon came out with a roomier pair of pants that had what it called Anti-Ball Crushing technology and they quickly sold out. Then there was a study that linked skinny jeans to nerve damage. Now there is evidence that the top menswear designers are embracing the roominess and moving towards baggier pants as well.
The inaugural New York Fashion Week: Men’s took place last week in lower Manhattan with designers showing their Spring 2016 collections and wide-legged pants appeared in a number of different runway shows and presentations. It certainly wasn’t an across-the-board paradigm shift. Labels like Ovadia & Sons, Polo Ralph Lauren and Michael Bastian all stuck with the trimmer cut for the pants they sent down the runway. But it was impossible to overlook all of the baggier pants that called to mind everything from mid-1990s raver style to the trousers worn by fashionable Oxford students in the 1920s.
Here is how five designers interpreted the new wider-leg pants:
No one went baggier than Duckie Brown. The label from Steven Cox and Daniel Silver dressed models in pants with a 48-inch waist (seriously!) and then cinched it with a long ribbon to keep them from falling down. It was certainly on the extreme side of the spectrum and, as such, attracted plenty of attention, but it’s tough to imagine this look catching on in a big way.
Alabama native Billy Reid has always maintained a Southern charm to his clothes that is refined without being fussy in the way that only a true Southern gentleman can pull off. So it was interesting to see how looser pants fits filtered through the Billy Reid Americana lens. What it ended up looking like was comfortable and not a bit sloppy. The pants had a breezy quality whose appeal is easy to see when you come from the South where scorching temperatures are a way of life.
Chai channeled the ‘90s New York City vibe of his youth for his spring collection, although some of the trenchcoat-over-loose-pants looks also recall Lloyd Dobler in 1989’s Say Anything. Either way, it’s interesting to see that skateboarding-street aesthetic from two decades ago make a return.
Like Billy Reid, Todd Snyder is another quintessential American designer, offering up his interpretation of timeless classics as opposed to chasing trends. For his spring '16 show, Snyder was inspired by the Italian island of Capri, where men have been making baggier pants look stylish for decades. The result was an excellent blend of two of the world’s style capitals.
Geller sent a few different pant silhouettes down the runway showing that it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing battle between skinny and baggy bottoms. The looser styles had a billowy flow that conveyed a sense of motion and looked really comfortable. It’s really easy to imagine guys gravitating toward pants like these.