New menswear fashions that set a man apart
In women’s fashion, trends often change with breathtaking speed, meaning many must-have elements of last fall’s wardrobe are now hopelessly out of date. With menswear, however, the pace is mercifully slower, with suit lapels and ties expanding or contracting almost imperceptibly from season to season, and basic casual pieces like plaid shirts alternating between in-style (spring-summer 2012) and virtually mandatory (fall-winter 2012).
Men’s fashion rarely favours the bold, a maxim proven every season on the sale racks. But, for those of a more adventurous bent, a few sartorial choices are always available to set a man apart from the more muted crowd. This season is no exception.
Ignored since its last heyday in the 1980s, the tie clip has returned with a vengeance. No longer the province of corporate raiders and venture capitalists, this masculine piece of jewellery—ostensibly employed to keep your tie from flapping onto your shoulder in a stiff wind—has become a popular accessory for stylish celebrities on magazine covers and red carpets. While you can still find solid-gold-and-diamond-encrusted examples that recall the excesses of the Wall Street era, today’s tie clips tend to be more modest affairs that wouldn’t look out of place with jeans and a sports jacket. Local jewellery store Jeweliette (692 Seymour Street, soon moving to 1090 Hornby Street), known for its flashy, crystal-heavy bridal pieces, has recently brought in a small line of groomsmen’s accessories featuring tie clips that marry stainless steel with grey or black woven-nylon fibre accents for a decidedly industrial and masculine look ($35). If flash is your thing, Birks (698 West Hastings Street) offers a high-sheen sterling-silver tie clip with bands of mother-of-pearl and onyx inlay ($195).
A Fresh Coat
Outside of sports and technical apparel, men’s outerwear has never been known as particularly avant-garde. Until now. The risk-taking began with European labels like Brunello Cucinelli and YSL abandoning traditional, fitted, military-style wool coats in favour of flowing coat capes that recall the Victorian era. Meanwhile, closer to home, Joe Fresh (540 Granville Street) unveiled a series of architectural, futuristic jackets and coats made of heavy felt at Toronto Fashion Week in February ($199 to $249). With its expansion into the U.S. market (including stand-alone stores in New York City and merch in 700 JCPenney stores nationwide), the Canadian retailer has made a concerted effort to reinvigorate its menswear collection in the past few seasons, establishing a New York–based design team to ramp up the fashion quotient. It seems to be working.
Ah, men’s skinny jeans. Has any piece of clothing since the Ugg elicited such hostility? That said, the shapeless Australian bootie has never been linked to a verifiable medical condition. We’re not saying that a raft of bladder problems or the incredibly painful-sounding “testicular twist” have brought about the demise of painted-on hipster jeans, but we certainly won’t be sad to see their saggy backsides as they head off to the bargain bins.
“I’ve seen less and less tight jeans for men and I think that’s a good thing,” says Adam Taubenfligel, creative director for local denim brand Triarchy. He points to the rise of the relaxed skinny, a fit featuring a slim leg with a looser fit overall. “It’s such a versatile silhouette that can be done in so many materials, washes, and colours that it appeals to the broadest range of men,” says Taubenfligel, whose line sells at stores like Dutil Denim (303 West Cordova Street), L2 Leone (350 Howe Street), Brooklyn Clothing Company (418 Davie Street), and Giorgio’s for Men (1055 West Georgia Street). “It’s slimming and lengthening—you can dress it up or down. It’s a win-win. Of course, from our men’s styles our slims outsell the rest by quite a bit, proving to us, at least, that it’s still the most popular.”
With its handmade repurposed leather construction, local label Ora Bags’ bike bags ($110, at Nouvelle Nouvelle [209 Abbott Street] ) are more of a sunny-fall (fingers crossed) accessory than a rainy-winter one. But anything that can add a touch of sophistication to your daily bike commute is a welcome upgrade from a Gore-Tex satchel with plastic clips.
You don’t need to be a professional DJ to use Urbanears Zinken headphones ($160, at Headphone Bar [245 West Broadway], Walrus Design Inc. [3408 Cambie Street], and the Mac Station in Yaletown [1014 Homer Street]), but it couldn’t hurt. Made from materials that are sweat- and odour-resistant, Zinken come with both a 6.3-millimetre plug that works with a mixer as well as the standard 3.5-millimetre plug for mobile devices. But technical jargon aside, the real draw here is the full range of colours, including a bright mustard yellow, which, in case you were wondering, is menswear’s colour of the season.