Most of NYFW Men’s is populated by menswear bros—the types who religiously refresh Hypebeast, fantasize about the perfect selfie with Nick Wooster and pick up smoking during Fashion Week just to provide street style photogs with an ambivalent cloud of smoke to frame their Four Pins-approved ensemble.
To appease these flocks, scheduling has inevitably geared toward more commercial brands, making it difficult to decipher between them all after watching back-to-back shows throughout the week. With so many similarities, subtleties become more important—thoughtful color choices, surprising silhouettes and smart casting all play key roles in differentiating the good from the great.
Though we may be hyper-critical, especially with regards to fashion, these three brands were worthwhile in a week of menswear mediocrity. Between Beyond Closet, N. Hoolywood and John Elliott, NYFWM spring ’17 rolled out some must-see collections—you just had to sift through the BS.
Cult streetwear brand, Beyond Closet, pulled inspiration this season from Bromances—a concept apparently trending right now in designer Taeyong Ko’s native Korea. While in America, Bromances are laced with queer connotations, the intimate, but totally platonic relationship between two dudes is much more socially accepted overseas, according to Gissella Ramirez-Valle, who founded Korean style magazine Mutzine. She said it’s quite common in Korean culture for unusually specific trends like this to take off and seep into all corners of entertainment, from film to fashion.
Playing off this idea, Beyond Closet’s capsule collection featured a number of classic menswear silhouettes—bombers, tailored jackets and trousers—all dotted with “Bromance” patches. Ko said the collection plays off a “boy’s night out in Seoul,” featuring colorful graphics designed after the neon lights hung in his favorite bar. The words, “Youth Culture,” also appeared throughout, which, thematically is a wide net to cast, though the range certainly had the electricity of carefree nightlife. But beyond aesthetics, the textiles in Beyond Closet’s collection all represented the breadth and unsung quality of Korea’s fabric manufacturers.
In the deep, deep sea, creatures are forced to adapt to an environment without any sunlight, and in response, have evolved to produce their own light so they can hunt, mate or hide from enemies. These beautiful, otherworldly ocean-dwellers served as the inspiration for N. Hoolywood’s spring ’17 collection, building a bridge between those who walk and those who swim. “The stripes of seaweed and the bubbles rising up from the depths” informed this season’s color palette and textile selection, rolling out a full lineup of scuba gear designed for the streets.
Most noteworthy was N. Hoolywood’s wide range of collaborations, which were sprinkled throughout the presentation, including Reebok, Lee, PORTER, New Balance, Mountain Hardwear and Ayame—all quite utilitarian brands given an ultra-modern, sleek finish. While Vetements’ creative partnerships were abrasive for spring ’17, N. Hoolywood’s were subtle and seamlessly incorporated throughout. The full neoprene looks were the collection’s most confident, designed with graphic “ecosphere” color blocks in blue, grey and black—a refined interpretation of ocean-gear.
Like N. Hoolywood, John Elliott too found inspiration this season in water, instead building off its shimmering, reflective nature—qualities found in the pool that ran the length of his runway. The presentation, which streamed live on Boiler Room, was the strongest we’ve seen from John Elliott, playing more freely with fabrics and colors than in the past: terry cloth shorts and silk bombers, to name a few, in ocean-inspired hues like seafoam green, salmon and royal blue. Though the LA-bred designer certainly attracts those menswear bros we griped about, his clothing is admirably accessible and wide-reaching without being lazily designed.
Previously, Elliott’s focus has been on targeting that off-duty downtown look in all neutral hues—loosely the same aesthetic as Kanye West’s Yeezy collections and inevitably appealing to the same audience. Sure, this has been marketable, but it’s not nearly as inspired as Elliott’s proven to be capable of for spring ’17. Many of the collections at NYFWM were hard-edged and confrontational, but this range found success in exploring softness.