The 10 Menswear Trends of 2021 Are a Reset of Ideas - Men's Folio

The 10 Menswear Trends of 2021 Are a Reset of Ideas

  • By Manfred Lu

The 10 Menswear Trends of 2021  Are a Reset of Ideas
FLORIDIAN PASTELS INFORMS SENSITIVITY WITH COLOURS: It comes as no surprise that when colours were utilised for Spring/Summer 2021 as one of the biggest menswear trends of 2021, the soothing blend of mauve, pinks, and lavenders dominated the season. Although frequently used throughout fashion, the reintroduction of pale colours reveals an empathetic thought-process to colour optimism during trying times. For Ermenegildo Zegna XXX, pastels retained the neutrality of its collection, set delicately against the surrounding of nature. It also ensures timelessness, with its ability to pair against any other colours one might have in their wardrobe — as it was seen with Dior Men and Gucci.  

It goes without saying that a trend report on the biggest menswear trends of 2021 would be uninformed without acknowledging the context of which they were made. Designers were forced to develop works away from the atelier and salons; the necessity to adapt revealed a collective migration for the digital.

At first glance, it was a dismal sight. When the shows rolled out on live streams, the most notable difference was the absence of the fanfare and theatrics that were familiar to the lure of fashion. It meant in its history of creativity and idealism through garments, trends and culture, fashion at the start of a new decade was quiet for once.

The clothes were no exception to this new stillness. Prada, who attempted one of the first shows during the pandemic, revealed a collection devoid of loud colour and prints. It was a reaction that went against an expectation of how things might go during disarray. After all, the runways were a platform that saw no less of the past than it did the future and at its core, some might consider them a glimpse into the unknown, a hypothesis of things to come.

In the end, the result of the bggest menswear trends of 2021 was strange. Because for the last two decades, the term apocalyptic fashion was coined to describe the most elusive and futuristic collections. Yet when the end seemed near, fashion seemingly abandoned its dystopian fantasies for a state of renewal.

Although foreign now, this reaction to instill a tabula rasa has presented itself before — looking back at past calamities, stripping down and looking only at the present seems to be the antidote during a crisis. For instance, the industry witnessed the values of minimalism from the anti-fashion aesthetics of the 1990s become ingrained with popular culture after 9-11. Also, as it seemed when maximalism was returning, the 2008 stock market crash saw deliberately plain clothing — later coined as normcore in 2013 — became a mainstay trend for the next decade.

However, this clean slate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is different. This time, the impact was felt by everyone. No one could turn away from it or pretend that their lives were not affected. The question of do we really need fashion now has never been harder to ignore.

So what changed? Where era-specific referencing was deliberately utilised to stylised past seasons, the biggest menswear trends of 2021 saw little of that.

For the majority, the gimmicks came to a halt. There was no reason to call anything pretentious – the scene was at its peak quaint and humble. Themes of intimacy were heavily regarded as both brands tried to connect with audiences through digital presentations and give light to the heavy situation. For designers, this was an opportunity to rekindle the values of dressing, of designing for a purpose no more than for the everyday wearer.

It was fashion for fashion’s sake, one look at a time. Therefore, the message with the season is simple — there is no longer a need to be a caricature of trends. In other words, do not take fashion too seriously.

Never has it been more important to find glee in pursuing individuality that prevails all perceived notions of how one might dress. The Spring/Summer ’21 collections have been dissected into design theories — colours, form, textile, texture and treatment — for easy uptake.

Whether one chooses to take this moment to embrace a new sensitivity in dressing or escape from reality, it is clear that this restart is a telling for more to come.

WHILE A FLUORESCENT SURFEIT RESPONDS TO AN ESCAPIST DESIRE: For others, colours were reminders of joyous times. Fluorescent neon, the colour group associated with club culture, made a return to screens. Imagined for the quarantine-partygoers, the assemblage of bright yellows, pinks, and reds is an imagination of better times. For Dior Men, Kim Jones sent out a new utility brushed with striking yellows. For Louis Vuitton and Hermès, neon becomes a statement when paired with soft, structured tailoring.

The 10 Menswear Trends of 2021  Are a Reset of Ideas
LAZY, SLOUCHY BAGS ARE NODS TO SNOOZING:  Despite the ever-present structured bags for men, formless designs appear to change the way one thinks about an everyday necessity. Perhaps inspired by the change in work environments for most men, these slouchy bags brings to mind the desire to sleep away from one’s worries. From softened leather that drapes down, as seen with Matthew William’s reinterpretation of the Givenchy Antigona or oversized tote from Bottega Veneta, these bags are evidently made as pillows too.

…WHILE WIDER PANTS REFLECT WIDER ASPIRATIONS:  It seems as one imagines the aspects of a new decade during difficult times, the pants get as big as one’s dreams. Most, if not all menswear designers featured ultra-wide legged pants for Spring/Summer ’21. Pleated at all fronts with drapes perfectly sculpting a romantic outlook, this new-age form cements the idea that even the simplest items in menswear will only become more idealistic in time to come. The techniques of Fendi’s pleated pants that drape at the ankle and the exemplary cuts at Valentino are intuitive plays on silhouettes for fashion obsessives. 

SUBVERSIVE KNITWEAR DISPELS GENDER DRESSING: As imagined from previous seasons, menswear designers have repeatedly challenged dressing norms and looked towards integrating styles commonly used for womenswear in their designs. This time, it was apparent that the narrative was to create more sensual and clingier knitwear for both men and women – an abstract   anticipation of post-pandemic dressing. From Louis Vuitton’s balaclava woven top to Burberry’s exposed-shoulder designs, an unprecedented new form of knitwear has arrived. 

While considering the change in work environments and the possibility of men continuing to work from home in 2021, designers experimented with the effectiveness of tailoring by reworking function and comfort. New rules were evident – lighter materials such as chiffon and linen were utilised to weave casual summer designs as seen in Givenchy’s draped top and Versace’s tailored shorts. It meant one could wear the same suit for every occasion, whether it be for working from home or to the beach on weekends. 

The 10 Menswear Trends of 2021  Are a Reset of Ideas
BALMY, WINTER MATERIALS ARE REIMAGINED FOR THE TROPICS:  The thought of wearing mohair or faux fur in the tropics might be alarming, but as the runways proved, these balmy materials might just the subtle way to spice things up. Be it from Dior Men, which embraced faux fur as an accent for its utility jackets. Neither stuffy-looking nor in poor taste, Celine reimagined the classic leopard-print faux fur coat with a pair of jeans and an intentionally ill-fitted T-shirt. Leather returns to Spring/Summer ’21 as it is repurposed as a casual, elegant statement top at Daniel W. Fletcher. 

…WITH A BALANCE IN SIMPLICITY UNLIKE ANYTHING BEFORE: Yet, most notable for Spring/Summer ’21 was the absence of textures that chronicled collections from seasons before. This was the return of minimalism, the Jil Sander-crazed aspiration of dressing effortlessly, stripping down the gimmicks of trends, and following a certain surrounding essence of cool. This time, the legacy of Calvin Klein and Helmut Lang brings to life pulsating spring garments that were designed for living, above all else. From Fendi’s fantastical shoulder-draped coat to Prada’s new formal attire of a crisp white shirt, a black tie and sweatpants.

The 10 Menswear Trends of 2021  Are a Reset of Ideas
SOFTENED FLORALS SATURATE THE ARRIVAL OF SPRING: Despite being dramatically expected of Spring/Summer ’21, the florals witnessed this season were nothing short of lucid. Instead of using the old-timely expression of solid prints, florals were warped, melted, and remoulded into shapes that are unique for menswear. At Kenzo, florals appeared faint and melted like wax from garments. Fendi rearranges the use of florals with its impressive shadow prints, highlighting a faint and romantic distillery for the age-old treatment. Microscopic, bacteria-like florals flooded the prints at Berluti, subverting its use. 

…& LAID-BACK FOOTWEAR ENVISIONS A NEW CASUAL FOR FORMAL: The new attire is to combine comfort with formality, but it does not mean one has to abandon all sense of style to achieve this. If anything the new season has proved, two opposing items can be paired together so long as the colour, material and designs are well considered. Therefore, with the help of Saint Laurent’s faux fur slip on, Loewe’s red ankle sandal and Balenciaga’s futuristic flip flop apparition, one could easily turn casual footwear into a polished affair.

This story about the biggest menswear trends of 2021 first appeared in the March ’21 issue of Men’s Folio Singapore. Purchase a copy of the issue here