WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MENSWEAR IN 2022
This time last year, the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, and subsequently our in-between, always-in-hybrid-mode lives, seemed to be approaching. There were talks of a vaccine and decreasing numbers, so 2021 appeared like a beacon of hope. Style wise, we thought we’d shed our athleisure and begin dressing like we had a place to go beyond the grocery store or a hike.
Instead, with 2021 behind us, we stand on the precipice of uncertainty that can best describe 2022. We don’t know what lies ahead: lockdown wise, work wise, and, more frivolously, style wise. Many of us, even continuing through the work-from-home grind, have left the athleisure behind for actual trousers. Yet, this path seems to have forked in two directions: 2021 saw a sharp return to “maximalist” menswear but also more seriousness about sustainability and hybrid garments, which built off the rising Y2K tide and utility wear.
Looking ahead, 2021 seems more of the same thing in all aspects of our lives, with style hinting at a desire to return to a place of comfort and nostalgia, whether that’s the summer of 2019 or the year 2000. Here’s what to expect:
Think back to late 2019: We were hearing how streetwear is dead, replaced by more practical yet fanciful tailoring. Hypebeast culture was expected to take a backseat, with bold prints and oversized cuts fading with it. Instead, the cultural wrench that has been Covid-19 means that menswear is going through a Groundhog Day-esque do-over moment – perhaps to pretend that none of this happened.
Reflecting this, the silhouettes and prints dominant through 2019 have stuck around, not so much as nostalgic memories but rather a former reality captured in amber. Any type of print you can think of – landscapes and fruits continue to hint at our obsession with travel and the outdoors – is fair game, as are wider, more spacious cuts, like you’re purchasing a bowler shirt in 2001.
Sustainability and Y2K
These two aspects traveled separate, perhaps parallel paths for the past couple of years before finally intersecting in 2021. That’s not to say they’re one in the same: We continue to hear about brands addressing their manufacturing and sourcing processes to become more sustainable, and plenty of fast fashion brands have capitalized on the Y2K frenzy.
Still, their overlap has proved to be a boon for reselling platforms and apps, with Millennials questioning and attempting to sell their 2000s style mistakes to curious Gen Z consumers. In turn, Y2K wear – that period following Grunge and before the late-‘00s skinny jeans surge – has turned into one of the most profitable and rapidly expanding areas of the secondhand market – acidy rave styles to trucker hats and track suits.
Hybrid garments encompass two categories. There’s the garment – suit separates, more popularly – that delivers more mileage across a range of situations. Then, there’s taking something traditional – a polo shirt or chinos – and adding athletic properties, like stretch construction or moisture-wicking performance, that eliminates having to change before a hike or round of golf – two activities seeing greater participation during the pandemic.
Although the name gives off strong whiffs of athleisure, hybrid garments mark another more sustainable approach to style: doing more with what you own, rather than having separate occasion- and environment-based wardrobes.
Think of this as the leisure suit 2.0 or an upgrade to ‘80s Armani tailoring, complete with pleats, double breasts, and lighter-weight fabric. Pink and shimmering shades, adding an ethereal and occasionally feminine quality, mark it as an appropriate development for our times. While this, too, falls under pre-pandemic fashion and maximalism, its presence means that whenever things return to the way they were (in varying degrees), prepare for upended tailoring expectations.
We’ve been exploring the great outdoors – as a way to stay social and do something other than stream from our living rooms or create content for TikTok. Part pre-pandemic, part of the present, utility wear – think vests, trousers, and jackets in a tan, olive, black, or navy hue covered in large flap pockets reminiscent of military garb – embodies this pursuit to explore beyond the familiar. Some of it ends up being meme worthy – anything Arc’teryx, for instance – while other silhouettes align with the whole exaggerated Y2K aesthetic we’re seeing that basically one-ups cargo trousers for fishing gear.
Yes, it’s so late ‘00s, early ‘10s, but only on the womenswear front. Men were still transitioning from wide-legged jeans with bedazzled pockets to heritage pieces during that era. Now, though, an amalgamation borrowing from the ‘80s blended with femininity dabbling has basically resulted in a subset of styles that’s best described as bodycon menswear.
Gym physique to socially acceptable androgyny, this spans those cropped silhouettes we’ve been spotting since 2018 through men’s tops and tees with cutouts to cold shoulders that make it seem like you raided the back of your girlfriend’s or sister’s wardrobe.
Knits are the new graphic tees, the new patterned buttoned-downs, and the winter-friendly version of your printed camp collar shirt. Essentially, what’s been a layering basic for pretty much ever gets upgraded with more colours and patterns knit into the material. Landscapes, checks, and geometric colourblocking? It’s all there and then some. Going beyond, sweaters aren’t just your only option: Oversized sweater vests look like a cold-weather muscle tee, and cardigans continue their oversized athletic-inspired streak.
Far from a subtle height-boosting shoe, this trend pulls more from Hedi Slimane’s stint at Yves Saint Laurent (and current vision for Celine) than womenswear directly. Although it comes across as androgynous on the surface, it’s more boundary-pushing rock star, rather than something foppish, that tests the limits before reaching full-on platform status. You won’t find any stilettos – swagger’s important, after all – but instead a chunkier, block-style Cuban heel attached to a Chelsea or cowboy-esque silhouette.