Menswear kicked off New York Fashion Week on Friday, shining a spotlight on several emerging designers — and one well-known brand making a dramatic comeback — that presented their fall collections at New York Men’s Day. The event created by Agentry PR brought nine designers to Canoe Studios in the Starrett-Lehigh Building and included some returnees — Apotts, Teddy Vonranson, Stan and William Frederick — along with newcomers Academy New York, Atelier Cillian, Clara Son and Nicholas Raefski.
The sponsor of the day was Perry Ellis, which relaunched the Perry Ellis America label with a new designer, Thomas Harvey, and a casual attitude. But that attitude was a contrast to the more dressed-up aesthetic shown by the other brands, which embraced a return to elegance with more of a focus on tailoring.
Here are a few of the standouts:
Perry Ellis America
Harvey embraced the brand’s heritage with a fall collection that offered updates to many of its key fashion statements, including traditional tweeds reimagined as puffer coats or varsity jackets and graphic sweaters that were reminiscent of the handknit pieces created by the original designer.
“We’ve really taken it to the next level,” said Harvey. “But it’s not over the top. It’s just great product that anybody can wear.”
That sensibility shone through in the cotton or flannel rugbys, hoodies and sherpa jackets, nylon M65 motorcycle jackets and winter white corduroy pants with a matching varsity-style jacket that Harvey said had “a classical twist.”
Under Harvey’s direction, the collection, which is designed to complement the brand’s more-dressy Perry Ellis Collection, offers the consumer a new choice for his youthful, preppy wardrobe.
William McNicol embraced his Midwestern roots for his fall William Frederick collection.
From the design inspiration to the selection of models — all friends from his hometown of Cleveland — McNichol said he decided to “make pieces that I wanted to wear rather than being boxed into telling a story.”
That being said, McNichol still had a message to send: “I wanted to focus on wearable clothes,” he said, many of them with references to the city’s rich manufacturing history. He succeeded, as evidenced by the Melton wool topcoat, plaid jacket made from deadstock fabrics and the white Melton jacket with black collar and detailing.
“It’s my take on aspirational Cleveland,” he said.
This season took Detroit-born designer Aaron Potts on a journey through the color black, which was his primary focus. His fall collection, titled “SKINFOLK: Skin Tones, Sculptural Shapes and Noir-Romantics,” is the brand’s largest offering yet with 27 looks designed for many body types.
He updated his signature styles with wool, patent leather and parachute fabrics on dresses, oversize pants, sleeveless shirts, and a belted long coat. He didn’t shy away from color entirely — a few looks included a rusty orange sweater and long pants with contrasting fabrics on the body and sleeve and on the front and back legs and light pink on drop-shoulder, three-button jackets and a jumpsuit. Potts combined the two color worlds on a long-sleeved cutout dress with geometric patterns and color-blocked coat.
Potts carved his own lane with his genderless offering comprised of billowed silhouettes such as wide-leg bottoms and long skirts, opting for coziness and comfort. This season exhibits a new level of sophistication for Potts that speaks to the label’s growth from his first show at NYMD in 2020.
Tristan Detwiler got a lot of publicity — not all of it good — last year when he offered up one-of-a-kind menswear pieces created from antique quilts that were eerily reminiscent of Bode. But this collection, which the surfer and former model said is a see now, buy now line for spring ’22, moved away from quilts to embrace other vintage fabrics.
“I feel like I lost my identity and felt the urge to evolve,” Detwiler said. That evolution led him to look back at his family for the collection, which he called “The Rugged Gentleman.” It was inspired by his grandfather who was “a man of the ’50s,” who would always wear a suit and tip his hat to strangers, Detwiler said.
That inspiration translated into a duffle jacket made from an early 20th–century Tulu rug; a blazer created from an embroidered, decorative Kyrgyz textile; 1870s Navajo blankets from which he created a bomber jacket, and an 18th–century Irish lace tablecloth that he used to make a double-breasted blazer.
Detwiler said he’s able to expand his collection commercially this year because he’s now using deadstock fabrics and is working with textile curators to increase the availability of the fabrics.
The Teddy von Ranson man continues to evolve and now the brand DNA is clearly evident — a perfect clash of East meets West Coast and everything in between. For fall, von Ranson paid homage to retro ski and snowboard culture, infused with a dash of the hardcore winter surfing vibes that propagated in the ’90s.
“It’s all about interesting color with me and an artistic approach to the prints, then playing with the fluidity and volume,” said von Ranson.
Fluid tailoring in deep jewel tones, a dramatic floor-length felted coat in a degradé sunset print, multicolored ikat patterns and “painted prints” bring texture, particularly on the “palm Nordic” ski sweater (palm trees included), a riff off a winter beach.
Von Ranson’s approach to modern tailoring, a refined outerwear offering, and masterful artisanal knitwear create an ideal wardrobe for the understatedly cool American man.
Newcomer to NYMD, designer Stephen Mikhail debuted his inaugural collection for fall with a lineup inspired by the 18th-century Hellfire Clubupdating with modern fabrics the styles of tailored attire worn by the Members of Parliament attending the club. Prior to launching, Mikhail has been fostering relationships with celebrity stylists and VIP clients, creating custom pieces for the likes of Steve Aoki and Machine Gun Kelly.
“I’m a showman and I like to immerse people in a world. I don’t just design clothes, I design an atmosphere for people to dive into. That’s important for me, I want people to daydream and be excited about fashion again,” said Mikhail during his presentation.
From strong tailoring to delicate draping, Mikhail injected a dark twist into traditional sharp suits, with highlights including a black and red brocade textured style, a red tweed overcoat paired with a soft draped turtleneck and an all-black tweed suit.
The designer is completely self-taught and learned his craft during intern stints at houses such as Catherine Malandrino, DVF and Alexander McQueen (during Lee’s tenure). His strong tailoring and flair for drama are just what NYFW was missing.
Swaim Hutson, who made his mark at his former label, Obedient Sons & Daughters, founded The Academy in 2013 as an Instagram feed that served as a moodboard comprised of images that resonated with the fashion, art, design and music communities. Hutson launched his first clothing and accessories under The Academy in 2015 and debuted his first women’s collection in 2019.
Hutson unveiled his first menswear collection this season after having launched collections for women that derive from menswear silhouettes. The designer said he prefers to design for all genders and size up his offering accordingly.
Suit jackets crafted in Moon fabrics from London bear vertical stripes in contrasting patterns and words like “Angel” and “01” on the back reminiscent of sports uniforms and the brief mock jersey trend from the early 2010s. Hutson also experimented with traditional tuxedos and waistcoats, cutting the sleeves off of one silk peak label double-breasted long jacket.
The lineup exhibited unique approaches to tailoring and American collegiate style and established several potential stories for Hutson to expand on in future collections.
Fordham University graduate Nicholas Raefski introduced his label as a streetwear brand but has ventured into contemporary fashion for his second collection, titled “Meet Me By The Bleachers.”
The New York City-based designer felt nostalgic for ’70s high school and imagined typical secondary school archetypes like jocks, nerds, punks and hippies through 11 looks, one of which is the brand’s first suit. Raefski also fused leather pants with disco pants for one style and named his puffer jackets after lava lamps.
“Going to high school in the 1970s is something I have always felt nostalgic for, despite being born a few decades too late to have experienced it,” Raefski said. “High school is all about archetypes and stereotypes; being put in a box. But when we grow up these boxes vanish, we find we cannot be bound by one group or idea. I enjoy the challenge of taking something that I know little about from the past, thinking about it in the present, and designing it for the future.”
Raefski boldly experimented with textures, colors and silhouettes this season in his first attempt at contemporary fashion, hearkening to the idea of not being confined to a box in high school.