GRAPHIC DESIGN Jennifer Ji
As the socially constructed range of what is and is not acceptable for a man to wear is dismantled, the possibilities of designer menswear open up. Age-old fabrication techniques are being reimagined by new audiences, and the space for experimentation and self expression are advancing. Let’s revisit some of the runway looks from the Fall 2021 Menswear collections that best encompass the rise of experimental fabrication and textiles.
My initial impression of Marni’s Fall 2021 Menswear collection was that it was a commentary on the state of our everyday fashion in the pandemic. Many of us can relate to sporting the pandemic-chic two-day-old tracksuit under a blanket cape; Marni channels this energy with a handful of quilted sleeping-bag-esque shawls. The collection showcases a balance between fashion optimism and apathy, a perfect reflection of the times. Other pieces in the show appear like fuzzy glimpses into childhood memories: make-do fashion shows, DIY bed sheet-princess-gowns, pop can purses and ill-fitting hand me down knitwear.
The collection reads like a tongue in cheek reminder of humble fashion beginnings and “making it work with what you have,” an all-too familiar experience for many creatives.
Whether it’s the randomized handwritten captions scrawled over each image or the repetitive use of accessories available at the produce aisle, Anderson captures a playfulness in his Fall 2021 Menswear collection. The lookbook is reminiscent of a designer’s sketchbook, and the experimental quality is like a documentation of the trial and error process, with certain garments repeated in different fabrics.
Where the shape stays the same, the fabric choices become more of the focus—in one of the images shot by Juergen Teller, a model holds up the edges of these massive pants to prevent them from flopping over, while in another, the pants support themself. A range of knit and crochet techniques help deliver this idea of creative process, highlighting the many ways that Anderson is communicating to us through each piece.
Confronting the qualities in fashion that we’ve come so accustomed to is what separates Y/Project from other designers, and their Fall 2021 Menswear show is no exception. While some critics argue that the most surprising thing for Y/Project to do is present a boring collection, it’s still unthinkable to lose interest with Glenn Martens’ clever sense of design. As Martens rethinks the fundamentals of pattern drafting, he is also undermining the rigidity of “good fit” principles.
The collection includes a range of sweater vests each with three fully functional collars and jean jackets that make denim appear as if it could blow away in the wind like a stray balloon. Martens champions this idea of experimentation within menswear, pushing the boundaries of reality and illusion.
When viewing the collection, the biggest theme that came up for me was a sense of impermanence and volatility. Twisting, slouching and folding—the clothing feels alive.