The past few days, New York has been host to a variety of designers from around the world and their offerings for spring/summer menswear. The runway was host to a number of styles as always, traditional menswear, contemporary, even avant-garde. The new kid on the block at this NYMFW was the streetwear style. Streetwear has always been closely linked to high fashion, with pieces from designers always being incorporated into streetwear outfits. However, streetwear has never taken its own spot on the runway the same way it did this week.
American brand John Elliott + Co presented their second ever runway collection, with their first being fall/winter NYFW. Among fashion boards and forums, John Elliott + Co is known for making basic, but high quality pieces. Though popular and essential to streetwear, many wondered how such a seemingly simple brand could manifest itself on the runway. With a simple and solid fall/winter show, Elliott was off to a decent start. The question was; how could he expand on this for his next show while staying true to his signature basic style? Running Through Vietnam, Elliott’s S/S 2016 menswear collection, was given as an answer. The models came out, dressed in greys and muted earth tones. Rugged military style jackets, vests, and shirts adorned with pockets were the first layer in many looks. Running thermals and athletic hoodies accompanied them. Sweat drenched the faces of every model. Green bandannas were tied around necks. The immediate impression given by the collection was that it did in fact take place in Vietnam. The earthiness and raggedness of the show connected what the Vietnam War truly was; dirty, grimey, and fought by soldiers who were sick and tired. Though the military inspiration was obvious, it was not the military inspiration seen in the collections of Balmain. It was not from the view of the general, but rather the footsoldier.
The New York-based Public School made a strong appearance in order to defend their home turf. As with their past collections, the S/S 2016 show from the brand displayed extreme minimalism. A simple but tasteful palette of black, white, and navy were perfect choices for the large amounts of color blocking. The only deviations from the solid colors present were several plaid shirts, mostly hidden under outer layers, and a simple line grid pattern. A faint shininess was almost always visible on the traditional blazers, youthful bomber jackets, and modernistic double-zip fleeces which served as the collection’s outerwear. The contrast of shirts buttoned to the neck and blazers against flat brim baseball hats and loose bomber jackets showed the mixing of streetwear and traditional menswear that much of both high fashion and streetwear seem to be undergoing. With several blazer looks, thick-soled high top sneakers were used to further this idea. Twitter and Instagram famous teenage model Luka Sabbat was featured in the show, giving the message that the youth of this newest generation do desire to involve themselves with, influence, and innovate fashion. Public School has shown that fashion is getting ready to move itself with the next generation.
Robert Geller, like Public School and John Elliott + Co, is based in the US. Though unlike the two, Geller has always designed runway shows and has had little-to-none involvement in streetwear. Though he stuck to his high fashion roots, Geller did incorporate several standout pieces which displayed streetwear elements. First, athletic shorts with an elastic waistband seemed almost out of place paired with a loose, drapey coat and flowing shirt. Shortly after, a quarter zip hooded vest appears, and can be noted as the only zipper displayed in the collection. The vest is made of a technical fleece material and appears in contrast to the silky flow of the rest of the collection. Besides these two articles, the models are curiously draped in billowing trousers, similarly flowing shirts, low-cut tees, and baggy outerwear. High waisted pants, sashes, and belts cut across midsections of loose fabrics to create what appears to be a feminine silhouette. Footwear carried this feminine element as well, single strap shoes were given large windows on the tops and were worn without socks. Tall grey hats, reminiscent of World War II military helmets, cover the heads and shadowed the eyes of models, contributing the androgyny of the show. Containing both youthful elements of street style and breaking gender confinements assigned to men, Geller’s collection proved itself to be forward and refreshing.