There's a common misconception about menswear that it always has to be three-pieced, wool-worsted, Bemberg-lined or tailor-made. Now while that is the wonderful thing about traditional menswear, that the construction the materials and the techniques are almost classic, handsomely familiar and almost scientific, there's also a beauty in aspects of menswear that fall outside of classic.
While the most influential menswear remains the classic, the precise, the labored-over, the newer forms of menswear that are more relaxed and less formulaic are quite impressionable as well. They reflect the changing attitudes of men, the influence of crossing cultures and the changing attitudes towards masculinity. To respect the classic mens fashion but not examine and remain open to the newer menswear aesthetics is like understanding and accepting the age of the computer but refusing to update from your Commodore 64 to a modern desk top.
I, for one, have a love for many forms of menswear. I absolutely adore a maniacally precise glen-plaid suit with a dot-stictched lapel and ticket pocket but I also love a perfect artistic drop crotch trouser, svelte high top sneaker and asymmetrically draped oversized tee. With menswear, what I see is the beauty of the design, what I respect is the history of the craft, what I've come to admire is the chameleon nature of its construction around the male form and what I find intriguing is the influence of the styles that have longevity.
Well, school lessons aside, I really dig Skingraft Designs. It's inky, dark and definitely After-five but with a cool-factor, artistry and whimsy that give it a lightness, qualified all-day appeal. Since most of their collections have a youthful darkness to them, they always seems to create intriguing details through pattern, embellishment and silhouette making a statement that is aggressive while approachable and quite covetable.
For Fall 2014, Skingraft showed a Mens Collection inspired by the alpha male animal. Appropriately so, since they've gained quite a cult following since their 2006 debut that has made them an alpha of sorts in their genre. Heavy in leather, wool and a variety of cable and jersey knits, they showed a collection that was full of clever seaming to showcase a diagram of the alpha wolf. The sliced wolf diagram found its way onto the front bodices of varsity jackets, the bib fronts of dropped crotch trousers, the fronts of sweatshirts and the tops of caps complete with jaunty wolf ears. Another diagram, this time of an alpha bear, found its way onto intricately quilted flight jackets, puffer vests and hoodies.
Meshing the collection was familiar menswear & military surplus details, modern approaches to layering, like shorts over leggings, and innovative pattern-making exploring the oversized and the asymmetric. Strong hardware, durable quality weight knits were anchored with strategically placed insertions of leather that created a great dialogue of solidity and a plausible case for modern armor. As always the pieces were cool and interesting without leaving the wearer feeling as though he'd be wearing a costume. So for the menswear purists, it may not be a six-on-two 'double breast heavy' collection but the dedication to good construction and patterning for a crop of men who don't necessarily stomp on Wall Street is worth a tip of the old fedora.