Gone are the days of only simple patterns and solid colours.
A few years ago, we saw the meteoric rise of Florence’s Pitti Uomo menswear shows to the top of the fashion world. Helped in a large part by the colourful outfits worn by show and event attendees, Pitti is and was a breath of fresh air. Called “peacocking”, the world’s dandies strutted for the fashion press in outfits of colours and combinations that dazzled- and helped bring a shift in everyday menswear away from the more sombre tones we’d all gotten accustomed to. As a bit of a dandy myself, I think it’s great!
Truthfully, Pitti wasn’t the sole influencer in this shift. The rise of social media and style stars, street and pop art influenced urban wear that saw collaborations with avant-garde artists and top fashion brands (think of the Louis Vuitton/ Takashi Murakami collaboration), the rise in awareness of traditional and non-Western fashions and cultures (especially traditionall Italian and Asian), the constant evolution of fashion as a whole… all helped, but images from Pitti put this change squarely before our eyes. It wasn’t long before beautiful, colourful clothing and patterns appeared on the runways and among the fashion crowd. With the the s/s 2017 shows well underway, I’d say colourful men’s clothing is definitely becoming mainstream, and it’s the bright showstopping shirts that are making the biggest splash.
Now there have been labels and collections with amazing printed shirts for ages (Versace, Cavalli and the like), but the first I remember was a Prada offering (above) in a 2012 show. Off white and covered with 50’s-esque illustrations of people doing things, it was fresh, bright and memorable. Now, these themes are all the rage and Prada is still leading the pack with almost kitschy awesomeness in its “Impossible True Love” shirt, where an airman kisses Cleopatra under a starry sky. It’s bright. It’s cool. It’s almost like wearing a fancy comic book page and I really like it.
Dolce & Gabbana, Tom Ford, Marni, Valentino, Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton… all are presenting amazing pieces. Jeremy Scott and Y-3 have examples with a hot street edge. Versace, Cavalli and Gucci continue with lush Italian designs printed on silk that make you think of party nights in Monaco or Sardenia. Brazilian label Desigual has designs with a tropical, really Brazilian, lightness. Basically… there are amazing examples to be found, so gents, join the trend!
My favourites are from Dolce & Gabbana’s collections. Their rich colours, almost over-embellishment and renaissance inspired designs throughout their menswear collections have always appealed to me. I love them. Hell, I’m wearing one of their shirts right now (though it’s just simple black)! Their campaigns are also great style inspirations for the gent looking to try a truly Italian luxury look.
Other favourites are the Asian inspired designs and rich colours at Louis Vuitton and the blue and white patterns at Prada that resemble old Dutch tiles. I also like Prada’s tunic-like shapes that look really breezy and comfortable.
If you’re wondering how to wear them, I’d say either go full Pitti- all out with an entire outfit of colours and patterns, or make your shirt the highlight of your look by keeping your trousers and accessories sombre. I usually wear mine with either dark blue or black jeans, trousers or shorts, black shoes and if I’m wearing a jacket, it’ll be black or navy blue.
What do you guys think? Colourful printed shirts- yes or no? I’m certainly enjoying the trend.