This was the season in which menswear completely unfurled its freak flag. In AW19, all that rule-breaking and ostentatiousness that’s been bubbling under for the past half-decade erupted in a carnival of colours, prints and sumptuous fabrics.
But menswear’s more-is-more moment makes it surprisingly tough to identify trends. Anything is fair game right now, from sportswear to tailoring, spray-on leather to super-loose velvet.
To help, we’ve broken down the looks that appeared across multiple runways and which we can imagine actually adding to our wardrobes. Some might seem discordant, even oppositional, but that’s why AW19 is best summed up not by a look, but by a mindset. Right now, menswear is experimental. It’s personal. It’s transgressive. And that makes it more fun than it’s ever been before.
Those looking to turn their wardrobe up to 11 can pick their poison for AW19. Rick Owens put a goth spin on glam with Kiss-influenced platform shoes and skintight black jeans, while at Celine, Hedi Slimane channelled New Wavers with his black suits and blacker shades. Punk was ubiquitous, especially (and appropriately) in London – see Liam Hodges’ shredded tailoring and John Lawrence Sullivan’s leather trousers – while that frontman go-to, leopard print, was spotted everywhere from Neil Barrett to Dior. Serve mixed with teen spirit.
How To Wear It
Like the music, the rock look exists on a spectrum. The easiest way in will always be via black jeans and a leather jacket, but this season a black suit and chunky Derbies or brothel creepers is an even better way to join the band. Or, just add some animal print: a printed coat if you’re feeling brave; a tonal shirt if you’re not.
Man-made fabrics, from nylon to polyester, were all over this season’s runways, turtles be damned (although the prevalence of reclaimed and recycled fabrics can soothe your conscience somewhat). The master was, as ever, Prada, which deployed head-to-toe nylon for shellsuits you could wear to a job interview. Craig Green did his weirdo romantic thing with screen-printed pac-a-macs and tracksuit king Cottweiler branched out into sharp but sporty outerwear (the buckle-up trenches were particularly dreamy). At Alyx, Matthew Williams went big on black plastic outerwear that was perfect for heading to the gym after the apocalypse.
How To Wear It
This season’s sportswear was about going covert. For AW19, function brings more clout than big logos, so stick to muted colours and little to no detailing. The power move is sportswear details on non-obvious sportswear pieces – nylon shirting, taped sweatshirts or even, as at Dior, nylon tailoring. Think suits for the track, not tracksuits for the office.
Designers doubled-down on practicality this season, to the point that it started to look a bit impractical again. If last year was about hiking clothes for the city, this season saw outward-bound details tweaked for urban survival. At Alyx, that translated to knee-length shell coats and all-over camo (a look accessorised with what looked like a sleeping bag). On a brighter note, Kenzo opted for primary colour fleeces and zip-off hiking trousers, and showcased the kind of swaddling puffers and Doctor Who-sized scarves that also appeared at Loewe, Valentino and Fendi.
How To Wear It
Start from outerwear in. A knee-length puffer is the quickest – and cosiest – approach, and if you can’t stretch to the high-end versions, rest assured that the high street will be dropping its iterations imminently. Next, boots. It’s long been advised that you steer away from bright colours lest you look like you’re actually going hiking, but this season, Day-Glo footwear has stepped into the city.
With every decade since the 1950s trending in some way, it’s unsurprising that AW19 runways have a nostalgic feel, as though the designers had been rummaging through their local vintage shops. At times, it made for a student wardrobe vibe, albeit at far-from student prices. There were duffle coats at Berluti and Valentino, corduroy tailoring at Oliver Spencer and zip-up track tops at Gucci and Dunhill. Most studenty of all, it was often worn all mixed up, as though the models had woken up bleary-eyed and grabbed whatever was to hand before heading out to grab a pack of Marlboros and some paracetamol.
How To Wear It
Start by going for a rummage through your local vintage shop (or your dad’s clothes in the loft). You’re looking for each era’s key pieces – think ’60s duffle coats, ’70s corduroy, ’80s leather jackets or ’90s sportswear. Then bung them all on however feels right.
As though affronted by the appearance of ludicrously sized coin pouches, the rest of fashion blew up its bags. As you’d expect from a luggage house like Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh showed backpacks big enough to camp inside (perfect for drop day queues). Hermès blew minds with a bigger, better version of its iconic Birkin bag, which were bested only by Kim Jones’s killer holdalls at Dior (see also: his space-age cross-body bags and chest-rigs, which offer the same storage but still leave your hands free).
How To Wear It
The beauty of a big bag is that you’ll always find things to fill it with, from spare phone chargers to an extra jumper, in case the weather turns. If you go for one that’s a bit interesting – think novel colours or unexpected fabrics – you’ll create a focal point that lifts whatever else you’re wearing.
This was quite possibly the season that suits officially returned. No collection was complete without at least one, ideally five or six, and at Louis Vuitton, Dior and Celine, it seemed as everything had a tailored element. We saw funeral suits (Prada, Ermenegildo Zegna), patterned suits (Berluti, Dries van Noten) and an unexpected glut of velvet suits (Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci), just in time for party season. It wasn’t the death-knell for sportswear – Cottweiler’s tracksuit-suits nailed that Venn diagram beautifully – but all that tailoring did perhaps signal a shift to more considered ways of getting dressed. In other words, these are the kind of suits you wear because you want to. Not because you have to.
How To Wear It
The key takeaway would be: however the hell you want. Think suits with something unexpected, be that something as simple as a boxy fit, all the way up to embroidery. Alternatively, play with fabric or colour; bottle green, brown or even black are easy but more attention-grabbing alternatives to navy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: TOM BANHAM
He’s fascinated by the collision of high fashion and streetwear, but also knows his way around a soft-shouldered blazer. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @banham_tom
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The Best Winter Boots For Men 2020
Don’t step a foot outside without these
Cold feet are a fact of winter, as reliable as dark mornings and drunken Decembers. The shoes you wear the rest of the year round – perforated trainers that let the chill in and low-rise shoes that let the rain in – don’t cut it in the worst of the weather. You need some winter boots and not just one pair, preferably two or three.
This is footwear originally designed for timber yards, hiking trails and the trenches of war; so you can be confident it will get you through a slightly frosty commute. In style, too, because the best winter boots are as good looking as they are practical.
Fashion has a thing for technical clothing of all kinds right now (hiking style and workwear are trends that won’t quit), but it’s always been happy to appropriate boots – from soldiers, mountaineers, riders and blue-collar workers. Those boots have the attributes all boots should have: durability, practicality, comfort and weatherproofing.
And despite those chunky soles and unforgiving leathers, winter boots are some of the most versatile shoes you can buy. Invest in the right pair and they’ll last decades if you look after them as much as they do you. So, best foot forward. Find the style that suits you best below, along with the go-to ways of wearing them.
What To Look For In Winter Boots
Good winter boots shouldn’t be dirt cheap if you want them to last, and you should. “The quickest way to spot quality in a boot is by the quality of the upper material,” says Tim Little, creative director and CEO of Grenson.
“A well-made boot will always be made of quality leather because no one would go to the effort of making a great boot in cheap leather. Quality leather always has soft creases and usually is hand polished so you can see the patina and dark and light patches. It isn’t always uniform.”
Alternatively, look for tanned leather, which tends to be thicker than painted leather and shouldn’t need as much weatherproofing.
A solid footing in the winter means a pair of boots that feature the famous Goodyear welting technique to stitch the sole firmly to the upper via a rib-like strip of leather or canvas.
“The stitching of the welt can be seen above the welt and the sole stitch (through the welt) underneath the sole,” says James Fox, brand director for Crockett & Jones. “Be careful though. If you cannot see the continuation of this stitch through the sole you could be looking at a pair of cheaper, cemented boots using an imitation welt.”
“A well-made boots brand has detailed information about how they make boots, where they are made and what materials they use,” says Rik Van Dijk from Red Wing. “A good boot maker is proud of this information.”
“And if you are looking for a winter boot with the perfect fit and quality? Go to the store of the boot maker or a speciality store. There you get all the information and fit you need to get the perfect boots for your feet.”
Recognising that most of us only wear our boots to either the office or the pub, shoemakers have, in recent years, fitted their designs with comfortable and practical soles. Combat-style treads will make you even more sure-footed while contrast white rubber soles offer some smart-casual hybrid styling.
Likewise, shoemakers (even the likes of Dr Martens) have made efforts to offer lighter versions of their chunkiest and most iconic styles with new materials offering the same wear and practicality.
The Best Winter Boots Styles
Have you been spending your weekends training for a forthcoming trip up Kilimanjaro? If the answer’s no, then you can be forgiven for overlooking the humble hiking boot as a viable footwear option. But only just.
Regardless of your outdoorsy aspirations (or lack thereof), hardy hiking boots have established themselves as foul-weather footwear essentials over the past few years – especially among sharp men who prize a shoe’s ability to face down all manner of meteorological nasties in style.
We’re not experts in adventure sports, so we’ll leave recommending boots for seriously tough terrain to the professionals. What we can do, though, is suggest designs that are ideal for navigating city streets, heavy dog walking sessions and the occasional trip to a countryside pub.
You need a pair that offers untold levels of comfort, ankle support and other orthopaedic box-ticking features such as full-leather linings and cushioned footbeds. (Although you could sack that off and get a beautiful but hardly practical suede pair from a high-fashion designer that hasn’t seen a mountain in their lives.)
Team them with other tough-as-old-boots menswear staples like raw denim, corduroy, twill or flannel shirts and cable knit jumpers. You could also pair them with rainstoppers and fleece to lean fully into the outdoors trend. Or be bold and use them as a striking counterpoint to tailoring – just not for your next job interview.
If you’re not ready to go full Bear Grylls with a pair of hiking boots, there are other, subtler ways to infuse your winter look with some outdoorsy influences. A sartorial hybrid, the brogue boot comes with the same reassuring weight and solid construction of hiking boots, but with all the wing-tipped, country-manor smartness of brogues.
As a general rule of thumb, you can wear your brogue boots with any outfit you might normally wear with traditional brogues, so lace up a dark brown or black leather pair with heavier wool suiting, and smart trouser and shirt/cardigan combinations.
However, owing to their winter-readiness, brogue boots also play well with pieces that straddle the rugged-refined divide, such as heavy-gauge knitwear, gilets, waxed and quilted jackets, as well as heritage fabrics such as corduroy and tweed.
While sock-flashing isn’t necessarily frowned upon when wearing a pair of these, it’s not an entirely natural fit with the brogue boot’s finesse either. Stick instead with trousers with a neat break (i.e. that finish around the top set of lace eyelets), or roll more casual trousers and jeans up to the same point for a smart finish.
Look out for rubberised soles for some extra winter practicality.
Some of the best boots ever made were first designed decades ago for people to wear in factories and shipping yards. The steel toe caps may not have survived the fashion crossover, but many other features have: waterproof materials, padded ankles, high-grip soles and cosy linings. Why wouldn’t you want those things for your feet when it’s freezing outside?
The most iconic work boots – the Timberland Yellow Boot, Red Wing’s classic moc toe – have remained almost unchanged for decades, which makes it surprising that they’ve been adopted by such diverse style tribes. Hip-hop artists, lumbersexuals and workwear enthusiasts all love a work boot.
That means you can pair them with a range of casual (always casual) outfits, from joggers to jeans, trucker jackets to parkas. Look for dyed leather or waterproof nubuck and sealed seams to keep the puddles at bay.
Like most items in a man’s wardrobe, boots have a proud history of military service. From high lace-ups designed to keep out trench foot to modern tactical designs, combat boots have recorded a number of victories on the fashion front.
Right now, they’ve not just won the battles, they’ve won the warcore. The directional trend for combat trousers, holsters and all things military means there’s rarely been a better time to buy this style. Not that you have to leave the house looking like a character from Call of Duty.
Look at Ryan Gosling’s character in Blade Runner 2049. He paired tactical boots you can buy on Amazon with a statement overcoat. Or designer Charlie Caseley-Hayford who wears his trademark high boots with classic tailoring. Streetwear fans might pair them with jeans and a bomber. Or an easy middle-ground is heritage wear: wool, twill cotton, generous fits and plenty of herringbone.