• Men’s Resort Wear Line Commas Wins Australia’s National Designer Award – WWD

    SYDNEY — Sydney-based men’s resort wear line Commas has won the 2021 National Designer Award, one of Australia’s leading emerging designer trophies.

    Announced Thursday morning Melbourne time at the pre-launch of the Melbourne Fashion Festival, Commas founder and creative director Richard Jarman and his wife and business partner Emma Jarman have won a prize pool that includes 10,000 Australian dollars or $7,909 at current exchange in cash, marketing support and a mentorship program with event partner David Jones. Commas also won the award’s Honorable Mention for Sustainability.

    Jarman, a former property valuer who has no formal fashion training, launched Commas in 2016 as a line of swimming shorts made from recycled polyester and has since expanded into a full men’s resort wear offering. With sustainability a key focus of the company since Day One, the ready-to-wear features organic cottons and deadstock fabrics, all freight is now carbon neutral, packaging is either biodegradable or recyclable and the brand also offers a recycling and five-year warranty program for its swimwear.

    Emma and Richard Jarman at the National Designer Award presentation at Long Acre, Melbourne, February 25, 2021. 
    Lucas Dawson

    In June 2017 Commas was one of eight emerging Australian men’s wear labels selected for the “Guest Nation Australia” showcase at Pitti Uomo and for the past two seasons the brand’s digital presentations have been included on Milan Fashion Week’s official men’s wear schedules.

    The brand sells through its own e-commerce site, plus nine international stockists in six markets which include matchesfashion.com, MyTheresa, Canada’s Ssence and Bloomingdales and Harvey Nichols in Dubai.

    A look from the spring 2021 collection of Australian men’s resort wear label Commas. 

    The judging panel included Melbourne Fashion Festival chief executive officer Graeme Lewsey, Vogue Australia creative director Jillian Davison, David Jones’ heads of women’s wear and men’s wear, Bridget Veals and Chris Wilson, and Scanlan Theodore cofounder Gary Theodore.

    “The National Designer Award is a career-defining opportunity that has helped lead some of Australia’s top designers to incredible success. It’s truly an honor to meet these talented designers so early on in their development” said Lewsey.

    Now in its 25th year, the retail-focussed festival will run from March 11 to 20 at venues across Melbourne. The event, which has in years past attracted crowds of up to 400,000, was forced to shutter early last year due to the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

    This year the festival has slightly abbreviated its regular live, ticketed runway program by substituting three of its eight core runway shows with digital presentations that were shot by Australian photographer Sonny Vandevelde at three locations in and around Melbourne: the futuristic Southbank Pedestrian Bridge, the Urbnsurf surf park and the Yarra Valley’s Redwood Forest.

  • Xander Zhou Men’s Fall 2021 – WWD

    Chinese fashion designer Xander Zhou planned out his fall 2021 collection as if it was a tech product. The look book, which he calls a manual, comes with detailed descriptions of each garment’s material and inspiration.

    The look: A smart remix and update from his previous work, combining his modern take on Chinese elements with his obsession with the future, technology, and extraterrestrial life.

    Quote of note: “From last season, I began to have a different take on how to run my brand. I am at a different stage in life now. Before, I was so eager to explore new ideas, and if everything was not new in a collection, I would feel defeated. But now, newness should come from my own system, which I have been building for over a decade. I am comfortable enough to extract new combinations from my system to create new items.”

    Standout pieces: Cape-shaped puffer jackets. Double-layer, cutout trousers that can be mixed and matched. Denim suit in a crackled wash. Muted pixelated print shirts. Jackets with frog closures.

    The takeaway: We miss the wow factor from his theatrical show productions. But given the pandemic and how hard it is to move things between China and the U.K., we will take this straightforward collection for now.

  • Kaushik Velendra Men’s Fall 2021 – WWD

    London-based Indian designer Kaushik Velendra took a very different approach to fashion video this season. Instead of solely focusing on the clothes, he used this opportunity to discuss the power of fashion and its influence on our self-empowerment.

    After Priyanka Chopra wore his design for the Fashion Award last year, Velendra said the brand has received huge attention both from Bollywood and Hollywood, and it also inspired him to take a more direct-to-consumer approach. Therefore, he brought real customers into the video wearing his size and gender-inclusive designs.

    With a reality-show-style opening, the video featured him walking into his studio on Hoxton Square and introducing his brand, while “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie”‘ star Layton Williams twirled around in Velendra’s signature blazer with their armor-like shoulders.

    The designer then raised questions about inclusivity, masculinity, gender diversity, the role of men’s wear, how to support the creative industry, and dealing with the pandemic. A diverse cast, including Kelly Rutherford, Daniel Lismore, River Viiperi, Bobby Brazier and Billy Langdon, shared their answers while wearing pieces from his fall 2021 collection.

    As a result, these characters brought his sharp and serious-looking tailoring pieces to life and contextualized his vision for men’s wear in reality.

  • Edward Crutchley Men’s Fall 2021 – WWD

    Unable to travel to Paris for Dior due to the new travel ban imposed by the EU against British citizens, Edward Crutchley, who is known to work with Kim Jones for a decade, is going to stick around in London for a bit longer this year. He is even looking for a three-bedroom flat in Angel to accommodate the entire archive of his own label.

    The fall 2021 collection “Florizel,” named after the original title for the British soap opera “Coronation Street,” also pays homage to the motherland, particularly north of England where he was raised.

    “Maybe because I haven’t been home in so long, it was really what was in my head at the time and I wanted to think about. All of the rollers and head scarves and these large jackets that farmers in the Yorkshire dales wear,” he said.

    Compared to the bright and exuberant spring collection, the fall collection feels a little more grounded in reality. Crutchley introduced some easy cashmere-blend logo sweaters and tracksuits, donkey jackets in leopard jacquard supplied by Johnstons of Elgin and bomber jackets in a moiré pattern.

    “I think people needed to get stuff out of their system last season from lockdown. Now, I’m feeling a little more different, and being a bit more pragmatic about what were actually going to need when this is delivered in store in six month’s time,” the designer said.

    There are still elements of ostentation and glamour. It’s in the DNA of the brand. No mink slippers for fall is already a big compromise for Crutchley. Instead, Alim Latif from Roker designed a few loafers with giant frills for him.

    Judith Leiber made three animal-shape clutch bags — a leopard, sausage dog and snail — as well as a new slim clutch shape in seasonal prints exclusively for the brand. Stephen Jones designed a few sporty flat caps and a floating handkerchief hat, evoking a head scarf tied over an abundance of hair rollers, serving as a nod to Crutchley’s grandmother Lorna.

    Crutchley also collaged temple frescos of Liugong Island in China — a resting place for British navy officers in the early 20th century that he visited with his partner a few years ago — to create a mesmerizing marble print that can be seen on blazers and shirtdresses in the collection.

    For him, working on his own brand enjoys a higher level of creative freedom. With heritage brands, the archive is always the main point of reference, while Edward Crutchley is about his interpretation of what contemporary British luxury brands could be.

    “I do feel there is a space in the market for something that is British, but has a global approach to it, it isn’t about hunting, shooting, fishing,” he said, listing off hackneyed “upper-class” references. “It’s about contemporary Britain and how a take on luxury from that point of view has a uniqueness that is relevant to the global market,” he said.

  • Comme des Garçons Homme Plus Men’s Fall 2021 – WWD

    Rei Kawakubo looked to the darkness — particularly the kind found in a darkroom — to inspire her latest collection for Homme Plus.

    “Just as photographs reveal their images in the darkroom, so can creation, development and progress, we believe, also come out of darkness,” read the show notes for the fall season.

    Held in the Comme des Garçons offices in Tokyo, the small show was lit only with spotlights that turned on and off as models entered and exited them. Kawakubo opened the presentation with a series of softly tailored white suits featuring loose-fitting pants and culottes with jackets that ranged from double-breasted styles to ones with asymmetrical button plackets.

    The Japanese designer also played with how different fabric textures interact with light and darkness. Clear vinyl, flocked leopard, tonal jacquards and tweeds provided dimension and sometimes even gave the illusion of print, despite being all black. Other motifs included houndstooth checks and large green or yellow flowers on a black background. Kawakubo worked with the contemporary artist Willie Cole, who created sculptural headpieces from high-heeled shoes. Similar imagery was turned into a print that was used throughout the collection and which at first glance bore resemblance to an ink blot test.

    The silhouettes were versatile and wearable, but were still infused with Kawakubo’s signature avant-garde tendencies. Inside-out jackets and fringe trimmed T-shirts were paired with printed leggings or pleated paper bag trousers, and footwear ranged from low-heeled mary janes to high-top sneakers from the brand’s latest collaboration with Nike.

    Jackets and outerwear were the stars of the collection. Oversize shapes, extra-long sleeves, flattened lapels, diagonally buttoned openings, and bold, contrast linings all added extra interest to classic suit jackets and coats.

  • Ziggy Chen Men’s Fall 2021 – WWD

    Chinese designer Ziggy Chen, inspired by the Classical Gardens of Suzhou, a UNESCO world heritage site, fused natural and architectural influences in a wardrobe for the 21st-century gentleman.

    His softened-up three-piece suits, in a patchwork of natural fabrics sourced from small producers, had the look of worn-in military uniforms with their rows of contrasting buttons. Spliced in two different check cloths, they took on the attitude of an English nobleman, minus the stiff upper lip.

    The wide pants and textured silhouettes nodded to a utilitarian register, while the rounded necklines of vests and patterns featuring shadowy bamboo foliage or ink-like prints were a subtle celebration of traditional Asian motifs.

    Flaps of fabric — in the place of pockets on some looks, or featuring as panels on the rear of the chunky outerwear pieces in the collection — could be buttoned down for a more discreet look or hang free to reveal contrasting inner panels, making for a distinctive style feature.

    The lineup had an understated edginess while channeling a sense of serenity that resonates with our times, proving that Ziggy Chen is a designer to watch.

  • Brioni Men’s Fall 2021 – WWD

    If it’s true that God is in the details, there was definitely something divine in the subtle tricks Brioni design director Norbert Stumpfl poured into this collection.

    In sync with his devotion for intimate luxury, Stumpfl turned complexity and technical challenges into understated elegance in a lineup defined by relaxed silhouettes, soft textures and a more casual attitude compared to the past.

    Attention to comfort and craftsmanship were revealed in soft coats tailored in rounder shapes and light blazers crafted in cashmere and silk blends, as well as in cozy separates including a hand-spun and hand-knitted cashmere cardigan with a shawl collar and a sweater combining silk chenille and cashmere in a geometrical pattern. Deerskin and napa leather blousons and coats, as well as a crocodile leather and cashmere knit, had hand-painted raw edges for a lighter effect.

    A luxury take on functional workwear came via double-wool shirts with pockets and revealing a pattern inside, while Japanese selvedge stretch denim added to the casual offering.

    In keeping things no-fuss and easy to style, Stumpfl opted for tonal looks. For the color palette, he replicated the journey from darkness to light represented by a 1640 fresco depicting the Roman goddess of the dawn Aurora in action. As a result, the lineup transitioned from black and white, gray and brown to teal, beige and dusty pink. A look layering a beige coat over a pink shantung silk shirt and sage velvet pants stood out in its delicate simplicity.

    Eveningwear had bolder effects via graphic silk fabrics inspired by the Roman brand’s archival pieces in the 1960s. The final coup de théâtre was a gold tuxedo, created with a special technique using electromagnetic rays to layer 24-karat gold on silk yarns.

    Stumpfl revealed the fabric is exclusive only to Brioni and another institution close to Rome: the Vatican. It doesn’t get closer to God than that.

  • Ones to Watch During Paris Men’s Fashion Week Fall 2021 – WWD

    Valette Studio

    Pierre François Valette established his label Valette Studio last year, intent on updating men’s tailoring for the modern dandy. Winning the Saint Laurent Institue Prize in 2019 set the wheels in motion for creating his own label, earning him support from industry veterans, including Bruno Barbier, formerly of Balenciaga.

    “The idea is to work on a suit, but a cool suit, with fluidity, that can be worn all day, that’s accessible,” said Valette.

    For the Saint Laurent prize, the mission was to choose an iconic piece by Yves Saint Laurent from the 1960s, when the designer set down roots on the Left Bank of Paris, and rethink it for current times. Valette drew up a sharp, pin-striped jumpsuit, with no sleeves, a striking piece that serves as the starting point for the brand’s offer of precise tailoring meant to be worn with ease.

    The designer began his studies in law, but knew early on that he wanted to move on to a creative field.

    Quoting a French saying, which declares that law can lead you anywhere — as long as you leave it — Valette began mulling the idea of fashion or interior decorating his first year in law school. But he finished his degree before switching to fashion school — following his father’s advice of carrying a project through to the end, even if you end up changing direction afterward.

    His mother also provided support, giving him her sewing machine and admitting her interest in fashion. She became a doctor instead.

    “My mother supported me a lot — she would say, ‘I have two daughters and a son, and I gave my sewing machine to my son,’” he recalled.

    “It’s true, people say fashion is fast-moving, you’re always doing something, redoing it, doing it better, doing it differently — I like this about it,” said Valette.

    The law studies helped prepare him, he noted.

    “And I don’t regret having done this track, which taught me organization skills, rigor, the ability to work fast,” he said.

    Classical music training while he was growing up also gave him a background that would help his fashion career. As a youth, he studied at a conservatory — playing various instruments including the accordion and violin, and performing in concerts each week, as well as taking part in an opera production of the “Magic Flute” directed by artist William Kentridge.

    “I did a lot of staging and I think this is what drew me to the world of theater and costumes — fashion may be commercial, but it’s also, fortunately, artistic,” he noted.

    While studying fashion, an internship at the studios of Isabel Marant sealed his interest in pursuing the field.

    “Isabel Marant convinced me definitively that this is what I wanted to do,” he recalled.

    His education in fashion was then rounded out by a stint at Saint Laurent, where he joined the tailoring studio and as part of the brand’s institute, learned all aspects of the business, from suppliers, embroidery and merchandising. — Mimosa Spencer

    BassCoutur

    A look from the BassCoutur collection. 
    Courtesy of BassCoutur

    BassCoutur

    Fashion brands are scrambling to find ways to push into upcycling, recycling and making use of deadstock, but here’s a brand founded on the principle of breathing life into existing fabrics. Riad Trabelsi started out in vintage — ferreting out pieces for himself, then friends, and eventually setting up a stand in a flea market. Then he reworked the clothing, and his prototypes drew praise.

    “At the core of it, it was about wanting to be fashionable, in an economical way, and you can find cool things, and for me, there was also a personal side — like a lab for discovery, ” he said.

    “Little by little, things came together, it was really accidental,” added Trabelsi.

    Now the label is presenting its fourth collection.

    “For three seasons now we have been trying to do something cool, not too pretentious, current and in phase with our lives,” said Trabelsi. “For the moment it’s going pretty well.”

    French, with North African origins — his father is from Tunisia and his mother is from Algeria — Trabelsi has sought to mix French and Tunisian influences. He sources materials in Tunisia, and describes treasure troves of fabrics he has found in sprawling factories there.

    “You go somewhere to buy old velvet and you end up with tons of leather,” he laughed, explaining that stocks from Europe end up being sold in Africa, which gave him the idea of setting up the brand.

    “I thought there’s got to be something to do with this,” said Trabelsi.

    “In general, I don’t really have a period of influence, or a movement — I like army clothing, I like English tailoring, I like Italian tailoring, I’m passionate about masculine shoulders,” he said.

    Collections are fashioned according to what’s available — patching together old silk scarves to make new pieces, buyers didn’t understand that each item would be unique, he explained.

    “Buyers are still a little afraid of it — this is the only sticking point. But things are going pretty well,” added Trabelsi. — Mimosa Spencer

    Kidill designer Hiroaki Sueyasu.

    Kidill designer Hiroaki Sueyasu. 
    Courtesy

    Kidill

    A self-taught designer, Hiroaki Sueyasu launched Kidill in 2014 to express his admiration for punk music and the grunge cultures he encountered in the 1990s. The brand will be making its Paris Fashion Week official schedule debut this evening with its fall 2021 collection.

    Trained as a hairdresser in Japan, Sueyasu started learning about fashion as a hobby after he moved to London in 2002. The first item he made was a pair of denim pants remade from Levi’s.

    “I bought clothes at secondhand shops and disassembled them by hand, sewing embroidery and stuffed animal accessory parts,” he said. His designs were first carried by London concept store The Pineal Eye.

    The brand made its fashion week debut in Tokyo in 2014 and opened its flagship Kidill Room in Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya neighborhood. He later received the Tokyo New Designer Fashion Grand Prix in 2017.

    His approach to fashion resembles that of graphic artists from the punk age. The brand has collaborated with artists such as Public Image Limited, Sheila Rock, The Damned, Siouxsie Sioux, Peter Murphy, Jamie Reid and Winston Smith.

    “Punk is not only a fashion style, but also a way of life and way of thinking, and as a mentality, I want to be a punk,” Sueyasu said.

    For the new collection, Sueyasu collaborated with American visual artist Jesse Draxler on a textile graphic. “He is the artist that expresses the darkness by different methods such as painting and collage. I was completely fascinated by the beauty of jet black that he created,” he added.

    The brand also invited Japanese musician Keiji Haino, “the dark wizard of avant-garde rock” according to NPR, to perform during the filming, which took place last week in Tokyo.

    “His way of life is punk, and he pursues his own style without compromise and practices it at a high level. He is also a very romantic man. Without being bound by the category of noise music, I was fascinated by his style that always incorporates new elements,” Sueyasu said. “Music and fashion are different genres, but I believe there is definitely a spiritual connection.”

    Stocked at Dover Street Market in five locations worldwide, I.T., Ssense, Tom Greyhound, H.Lorenzo and Air Moscow, the brand also collaborated with Edwin and Dickie’s for the fall collection. — Tianwei Zhang

  • Gall Men’s Fall 2021 – WWD

    Spurred by the pandemic, dystopian themes came to the fore throughout 2020, but Gall has been offering protective gear since its inception, making sure customers are well equipped to face harsh times.

    Blending functionality with a military-tinged subtext, the Rome-based brand helmed by life and business partners James Gall and Chiara Nardelli orchestrated a fashion film lensed in a fog-filled forest where models escaped from some unknown threat, as if they were survivors in a post-calamity future.

    Gall contended that the video was actually centered on a single character, played by model Luca Filippi, in pursuit of different sides of his personality, and described the escape as an “introspective quest.” To be sure, today’s fears and preoccupations are both mundane and spiritual.

    While the focus on functional pieces was a tad repetitive, the collection conveyed a cool look intended for the outdoors. Puffer jackets in shiny nylon — the models’ faces almost entirely obscured by the collar, hood and knitted balaclavas — mingled with rubberized raincoats and matching pants with drawstrings around the knees, while subtle camouflage motifs adorned field jackets.

    A golden outfit — another down jacket paired with utilitarian pants — added a flash of positive energy.