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Menswear in 2020 is looking a lot more feminine

Images by Bray Taylor
Words by Tim Grant

Welcome to the future.

Or – as I like saying it – it’s looking gayer.

In the wake of September’s various fashion weeks – and also just the upcoming change in the weather – I’ve done a review of various Spring 2020 menswear collections. I’ve come to one conclusion: menswear is soft now.

 

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Details: Men’s #SiesMarjan

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Going through all the photos saved on my phone from June, the overwhelming trends are belted jackets, short-shorts, and transparent fabrics. Which may say more about me than it does menswear, but bear with.

While the consensus has been that menswear has been a bit more GNC in the last few years, I think it’s worth noting that the trend goes a bit deeper than just models in skirts.

 

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– THE #BERLUTI SUMMER 2020 SHOW BY @kris_van_assche – Férou Orangery, Jardin du Luxembourg – Relive the Show on IGTV –

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Berluti and Dior Homme both featured soft, playful colours, and double-breasted suit jackets cinched through the waist like corsets. Likewise, Loewe and Ann Demeulemeester (try saying that at 3 am when I am writing this) used belts and layering to give their looks a svelte silhouette.

Sies Marjan liked its belts – and belted jackets – too. It threw a few pairs of high-waisted pants, dresses, and a form-fitting playsuit in, for good measure. And just like the other brands, they balanced the largely colour-blocked palettes with bright tones and shiny fabrics. None of the collections were drastically frilly or loud. They just softened the edges of the typical man’s closet to keep it fresh.

Ann Demeulermeester’s Spring collection was dominated by a Parisian sailor look that has stayed burned into my brain for months. The way the clothes tumble over the shoulders and out from the waist, in particular. Loewe’s runway featured a number of robes and gowns among the more traditional separates; their presence highlighted how even when the looks where tailored wide and long, they still considered the body underneath.

 

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“The Northern Sea” – Ann Demeulemeester Spring-Summer 2020 Backstage impressions by @cheyennedekeyser #AnnDemeulemeester #SS20 #menswear

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Hiding underneath loose, boxy fits has been a general feature of menswear in the last century. This is different – it’s clothing that functions as decoration, not disguise. Of course, not every collection put forward such gentle visions for Spring.

The brands that are leaning in and those that are leaning away from a feminine man seem to be divided over how casual they want their collections. GmbH and Jacquemus like their fits wide and their men blokes – I forgive them for that. They’ve opted for reinventing the casual where the aforementioned want to reinvent the Man.

Valentino managed to balance the two instincts, which is helpful for my argument. Pierpaolo Piccioli took the centre lane by stuffing oversized print shirts into high-waisted pants, and throwing in a poncho for good measure.

Similarly, Christian Dada applied of the same cinching and softening tricks as the other brands while keeping the fabrics and styles casual. He also ran possibly my favourite tank top I’ve ever seen down the runway – scroll through the post below to witness the majesty.

 

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Spring Summer 2020 Men “Pilgrimage” #CHRISTIANDADA #20SS #Ohenro

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The Cut noticed that Spring 2020 was the season of the Going Out Top. They were right, especially about the trend fitting into a broader desire for men to look sexy. But it isn’t the Arctic Monkeys flamboyance of the mid-2000s. What makes this look distinct is its consistent femininity. Instead of bright collared shirts left unbuttoned, the modern himbo is donning spaghetti straps, deep necklines, and bold floral prints on sheer fabrics.

I think, in part, the gentler masculinity of these brands is influenced by the more overtly queer designers that have gained prominence. The bohemian decadence of Palomo Spain and the party girl minimalism of Ludovic Saint Sernin spring to mind when I look at these collections.

These brands push against the limits of what is deemed normal for the male body by tailoring traditionally female styles to suit it. Loewe and Dior Homme wouldn’t be so bold as to run a custom made towel-skirt down the runway. But their recent work indicates that they want to take up some of the room made by the boundary pushers.

Even for the more conservative menswear lines, this year’s trends are soft silhouettes, a playful approach to styling, and the general sense that you will have to really force your male relatives to try any of it on.

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