Spring is almost here, I can just taste it. Strangely enough, winter finally arrived in the Bay Area, and record lows in the 30s (I know, we’re wimps) meant I’ve been finally able to enjoy my Eidos+Vanson shearling grizzly, Stephen Schneider Merino Coat, and throw a belted overcoat over my suit. It’s been novel, but I’m no sadist; moderate temperatures are where it’s at. Besides, current freezing temperatures notwithstanding, the longer, sunny days have been pushing tree blossoms out to greet the sky – a perfumed harbinger of warmer seasons to come.
About this time, designers and the stores that stock them start rolling out their looks for spring and summer, and there’s a lot – A LOT – to like. From pale pastel solids, to printed camp shirts, and even beachwear, there’s something for everyone to look forward to, meaning you can actually wear runway looks (groundbreaking, I know). Here are a few standouts of Spring 2018 collections, beginning with more familiar silhouettes.
Drake’s London – Americana
Prep came and went a few years ago, but there are some things that are–by now–timeless. Drake’s obviously isn’t the first to try their hand at it, but for a British company who uses predominantly Italian makers for their shirts and suiting, they do seersucker and madras rather well. Gorges are a bit lower and wider compared to the resurgence of Ivy style in recent years, which makes the look seem new. Of course there are polo shirts, but there’s also a terry cloth polo shirt; this sounds like it would run hot, but I can tell you from experience after climbing out of the Mediterranean last summer that there is no better nor more stylish way to dry off. They’re not available yet, but when they are I’d jump on it, since they’re generally hard to find.
My favorite combination of the lookbook is a madras sport coat paired with a saturated blue linen popover shirt (the saturated color is the perfect complement to the red madras), jeans, and loafers. Not necessarily new, but with the lengths that some fanatics go for prep perfection, Drake’s London via Italy interpretation is a refreshing departure.
Junya Watanabe – Workwear
The spring collection from Junya Watanabe continues his workwear-inspired Carhartt collaboration, often tweaked just enough to wear comfortably on the street (although some pieces I would 100% wear on a job). I really like this plaid overshirt worn with white chinos. Wear them with a pair of Vans, Chucks, or Common Projects and you’ve got a great spring look. Carhartt even manages to dress up workwear, as we see in this black shop jacket worn with black pants and oxfords. That’s practically a dinner date outfit, something I thought I’d never see from Carhartt. For those who can’t get enough workwear, this season’s offerings from Junya could be worth looking into.
Corneliani – Tonalities
Some guys are perfectly comfortable in slim silhouettes, and men tend to keep their wardrobes for years, even decades. If that’s you, then Corneliani’s lookbook this season will be right up your alley. The proportions have changed only slightly, and the way the outfits are paired are fresh enough to give you ideas for this season and beyond. For Spring, I really like dressing in light tones (sometimes referred to as palewave) but it can be hard for some. Corneliani makes it look easy – and it is, if you start with white pants as an anchor.
From there, you can throw all sorts of shades from beige, gray, and tan, to light blues and greens. Of course, you could play it safe with black, and Corneliani makes this easy, too. The textured leather jacket provides a touch of visual interest, the beige polo sweater is different but still classic, and the higher waisted pleated trousers are cut a bit roomy in the top but still razor sharp.
Club Monaco – Modern American Classics
I noticed printed shirts are recurrent for Spring ’18, particularly those with club collars. Club Monaco seems destined to carry this trend, and sure enough, they do, in a slightly loose fit. However, instead of leaving their squared off hemline outside, they’re mostly tucked in, leaning dressy. The style harkens back to some of the 1950s silhouettes featuring camp collars but making the silhouettes a bit more modern.
It’s not groundbreaking, but for those wanting to try something new, it’s not bank account-breaking either. I particularly like their grey linen camp collar shirt – the underside of the placket is a soft white. I also really like their cream boucle rollneck. It’s a very subtle texture, giving a basic item loads of visual interest. It’s not on the website – yet – but a striped version is, and it’s on sale.
Armani – Wider Silhouettes
As a guy who wears suits at least twice a week, there’s nothing like the process and result of a bespoke suit that fits well. That said, for more casual wear, I like the look that some designers have been leaning towards the past few years – a looser, drapey look that fondly recalls the 80’s without the stuffy shoulders. Who other than Armani would better interpret the silhouettes of the decade that he became known for? For his newest collection, he puts together seersucker shorts with an interesting crepe de chine shirt that buttons a bit of to one side (making it an interesting v-neck) and tops it off with a boxy shawl cardigan to ward off the chill. I quite like what looks like a gray-and-black block striped bomber jacket in–wait for it–suede. Paired with a t-shirt and loafers, it looks like something a chillwave DJ would wear to a cocktail party.
No Man Walks Alone – Curated Casual
Greg and his crew at NMWA have a keen eye that can spot interesting clothes that fit into almost everyone’s lifestyle, and this season is no different. My favorites are…pretty much everything from Sage de Cret, as they’ve chosen tops and bottoms that can easily go with each other. I’ve got my eye on the fixed collar popover shirt, though. The gauzy cotton and easy going fit add such a vacation vibe to it, and it’ll go with all the linen and seersucker shorts I’ve got in my closet. If you dig something a little less plain, they have you covered with Portuguese Flannel. Their new shirts for the season have tasteful prints that feature a slightly less Hawaiian and a bit more Mediterranean color palette.
Lemaire – Refined Slouchiness
Lemaire takes the loose-is-better mantra and adds a bit of louche sheen. In one look, he throws together a loose printed camp-collar shirt and baggy black lightweight trousers with a self-belt.
For those not into camp collars, he presents the same trousers in gray worn with an oversized shirt that has no collar at all, three-quarter sleeves, and is punctuated with lowered chest pockets. Nothing is crazy here, just a dash of late-era disco clubs under neon palm trees, which is exactly why it’s so compelling.
Engineered Garments – Technicolor
Spring and Summer usually mean beachwear will be on display, but I didn’t expect any from Engineered Garments. Up till now, their motif has been largely military-inspired tweaks of tried and true menswear in earthy colors, like khakis with a cargo pocket on the front, or M-65 jackets with buttons in strange places. Maybe that’s why they went all technicolor this season, and not just with beachwear – everything is in saturated colors.
Not everyone will feel comfortable walking down the street with these pieces, but on the beach (or lake, depending on where you are) it feels right at home. And really, EG’s trademarks haven’t changed that much. The jackets still have interesting closures, belts, and toggles, and the shorts still feature that one odd pocket in front. It’s just a little brighter because you know, summer.