Menswear is a style that can range from classic jeans to tailored suits. It can also include skirts and other gender-neutral elements that can be dressed up or down with shirts, sweaters or coats.
FIT’s specialized Menswear program offers an in-depth immersion into this exciting world of design and production. Learn more about the program and its talented faculty.
With its sartorial roots in workwear, outdoor gear and tailoring, American menswear is a style that straddles the line between classic and modern. The silhouettes are looser, but not baggy and sloppy. Think of them as more akin to the suits of the 1940s and ’50s, where there was a balance between fit and function.
Menswear historian Daniel Delis Hill takes readers on a richly detailed tour of America’s changing sartorial landscape. From the old-world tailors and “slop shops” to Calvins and tattoos, he shows how fashion and cultural developments contributed to and shaped men’s clothing over two centuries.
From the austere wool suits of the Depression-era 1930s to the Menswear laid-back leather jackets worn by 1950s greasers, men’s fashion reflects its social climate. A jacket’s fabric and collar shape can communicate a man’s occupation, while an exaggeratedly baggy zoot suit is an act of rebellion against conformity.
The cyclical nature of fashion means that some trends fade as fast as they came about, but others stand the test of time and remain menswear staples today. A 1920s fedora, for example, reemerges with a narrower brim, while the ’50s skinny tie brings back a streamlined look that was popular during the McCarthy Era. Other styles that have survived and thrived over the years include button-down shirts, tailored trousers and high-quality oxford shoes.
In Britain, where the world of men’s clothes has long been renowned for its quality and craftsmanship, there’s an ongoing fascination with redefining traditional masculinity. This began in the 1960s, when prudish Victorians loosened up a little, making collarless jackets (a look popularised by The Beatles in 1963) and slim-fitting trousers acceptable in most workplaces. Boutiques selling off-the-peg menswear became commonplace, and tailors embraced the new mood by adding subtly daring elements to their suits. Pink shirts, lilac bowties and tattersall blazers with repeated pheasants on them all found their way into the workplace.
But the world of British menswear doesn’t just offer a nod to history – it’s also full of innovative brands that are redefining the rules. From heritage labels with a long-standing commitment to expert craftsmanship, to contemporary labels with a street-wear edge, this is the generation of designers bringing fresh ideas to the table.
Oliver Spencer’s eponymous label is an excellent case in point, proving that tailored clothing doesn’t have to be uptight. Originally a market stall on Portobello Road, the label has grown into one of the country’s foremost menswear names by marrying high-quality materials and craftsmanship with relaxed everyday attire. Their Whiting Overshirt, for example, is a perfect summer staple made from heavyweight cotton that’s been dyed naturally and ethically. The label’s new collection also features a series of bold woven silk pocket squares that will look great popped in the back of a shirt pocket.
The French have always been a benchmark for style, and with a new generation of contemporary Parisian designers they’re reinvigorating quotidien dressing. Expect classic names like Louis Vuitton and Lacoste alongside labels such as The Kooples, AMI Paris and Balibaris to redefine the modern wardrobe.
For sleek shapes and simple styling, Sandro delivers a range of impeccably tailored suiting and separates. Often men’s clothing supplier skewed towards the millennial demographic, the label also offers more directional pieces in a variety of colors and fabrics, including moleskin, corduroy and brushed cotton.
Another French brand that’s embracing the streetwear craze, Rouje takes its inspiration from vintage shirts and jackets but without veering into costume territory. The collection includes unique wrap-around suits and hype sneakers in various prints.
Established in 1927, Vetra specialises in one thing and does it exceptionally well: chore jackets. Made from heavy cotton in a choice of colours and fabrics, they’re practical enough to wear on construction sites but stylish enough for dinner dates.
Founded by entrepreneur, model and influencer Jeanne Damas, this newer brand focuses on feminine and flirty ready to wear with a distinctly Parisian feel. The line skews more toward the younger crowd but with its floral patterns and retro elements it’s a great addition to the modern wardrobe. The brand is part of the SMCP Group which also includes Maje, Claudie Pierlot and Sandro.
German men are renowned for their effortless fashion sense. From classic suiting, to modern tailoring, German designers are the originators of some of our most well-known menswear trends.
The country has a rich fashion history and is home to many famous designers, including Karl Lagerfeld and Wolfgang Joop. It’s also a hub for luxury brands like Hugo Boss and designer denim labels, like True North. With the influx of new designers and fashion-savvy consumers, German menswear is thriving.
In addition to smart tailored clothing, German designers are exploring innovative materials, colors and silhouettes. For example, sf1og’s aesthetic is all about function and purpose, with their collection of Gore-Tex membrane jackets. Their designs are inspired by everything from traditional workwear and hunting attire, to the great outdoors.
When it comes to dressing formally, German men are impeccably well-dressed, whether in a navy blue or black suit with light colored shirt. Cobbled streets call for sturdy footwear, so leather boots and trainers in dark shades are the norm.
The country’s forward-thinking styles are also on display with brands like Munich’s A Kind of Guise, which takes a step away from conservative German menswear culture. With collections inspired by themes as eclectic as Mongolian football culture, the brand’s cosmopolitan take on casualwear is something to be seen. A fusion of classic shapes and relaxed silhouettes, their pieces are perfect for any man who wants to look effortlessly cool.