I've been in a casual menswear mood lately. Is it a bit lazy? Not really! Is it a bit like giving up? Hardly! I still absolutely love the influx of glen plaids, houndstooths and herringbones that the Fall season ushers in. When I saw Tom Ford's ad campaign for Fall with the nods to Carnaby Street and Savile Row donned effortlessly on the young be-speckled model, I exclaimed 'this is the menswear I know and love'. When I saw the precision cool images from Neil Barrett for Fall 2013 I had no choice but to become enthralled with the clean minimalism translated for a new generation of guys that wanted a bit of 'fine-tuned grease' with their squeaky clean. When I look at the slender ankle-grazing pants for Fall paired with the influx of 'not necessarily for the gym' sweats and trainers, I think in wonderment that this is modern menswear. Menswear today is for a man who knows and unashamedly dresses for his life. The good thing is that many many more companies are aware of this and are making it their bottom line to provide options for the diverse kinds of men that will trove shops and peruse on-line sites for the clothes that complement their lives.
So back to my mood. It's easy to become conflicted when I can love everything from Tom Ford to Bernhard Willhelm. Or is it? One of the greatest attributes of modern menswear is that there are less rules than there were ten years ago, which also means thats there's more to choose from. So now the photographer who also DJ's and goes to the gym five days a week has options just as the wardrobe stylist who is out around town from sun up to sundown and moonlights with the gym (that's me) has options too. This is one of the reasons I dig lines like NUMBER:Lab.
I first became acquainted with NUMBER:Lab a few years ago when I purchased a cool pair of reversible sweatpants from Bloomingdales. They were comfy and easy and not baggy like a corner-boy's yet not suck-on tight like a pair of terry sweats with 'Juicy' printed across the bum. What I gathered from the label was its being a fresh approach to active clothing to live in or even exercise in comfortably. What I appreciated from the label was that the fabrics walked the line of sporty and casual and I found it acceptable to wear to work with a clean button-down and Converse and on my days off with a fitted v-neck and trainers to the gym (very me).
So I had to give this label another look for Spring 2014. What I found was something very approachable that adheres to how I and menswear have been moving as of late. In dressing for my life, I occasionally need and want fabrics and silhouettes that move with me and can appropriately be slightly dressed up or down.
Inspired by robotics and astro-technology, NUMBER:Lab offered up clean easy zip-up outerwear, shorts, tees and trousers for Spring 2014. The collection was peppered with color-blocked pieces that had a futuristic execution to them but not one that was over the top. All the clothing was very attractive in their ease and the design were kept simple enough to adhere to the brand's aesthetic. These were the kinds of pieces that had active inspiration but could also be easily integrated into a modern cosmopolitan man's wardrobe (that's me). For example, I would totally tuck a button-down into their trim sweatpants with a chukka-sneaker hybrid. I would absolutely wear their varsity bomber or hooded parka over a shrunken dropped lightweight spring suit with some Converse or sock-less with some colorful brogues. Would I wear them to the gym? Yeah, probably. However, with a line like this, the point is seeing beyond the obvious and being equipped for a day of the unexpected (also me).