February 17, 2012 9:51 pm

Lose the suit

A more adventurous men’s wear look that uses military influences arrives on New York’s catwalks

Thanks to what New York locals are calling the “post-bonus era,” one staple of the men’s wear catwalks was in short supply this week: the suit. Instead, designers looked at other ways to present tailoring, using military influences (already a trend in Paris) and offering clothes fit for adventurers or explorers, devoid of unnecessary whimsy.

For example, Adam Kimmel, a buzzed-about name in New York, riffed on the idea of US military gear with avant-garde officer jerseys and Navy Seal anoraks, jeans tucked into lace-up boots, and even a model wearing a fighter pilot’s mask and breathing apparatus.

Likewise, Tommy Hilfiger called his collection “Cadet Prep” and embraced cavalry twill and officer’s metallic braiding, not to mention some padded-suede hacking jackets – worn with motorbike pants – and great moleskin riding coats with padded leather sleeves. The designer also presented an intriguing new boot – part New England loafer, part marching boot – in pewter or burgundy.

For the past three seasons, Hilfiger’s men’s collection has been created by British designer Simon Spurr, whose eponymous collection focused on spruce tailoring with a dash of wit. “It’s Tommy Nutter for today,” explained Spurr, referring to the London tailor who made his name in the 1960s.

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See, for example, sleeves that contrast with the body of a garment (a general trend), such as a grey cashmere top coat with crocodile sleeves. Or Michael Bastian’s score and a half of Anglo eccentrics – from spiv bankers to a budding professor wrapped in a university scarf, and even a model in padded coat, flat cap and grumpy bulldog.

Meanwhile, another British presence was also making an impact: the street-cool label Rag & Bone, founded by David Neville and Marcus Wainwright, and based in Manhattan’s meatpacking district.

The pair, who have four boutiques in New York and are close to opening in London’s Chelsea, took a virtual voyage to India to incorporate a foreign take on UK style into their collection.

“We grew up wearing hand-me-down Savile Row suits and we wanted that Indian version of English tailoring with an American touch,” explained Wainwright, referring to Hudson Valley blanket patterns, seen in top coats with graphic horizontal stripes and bold jodhpur pants, and also in fellow designer Richard Chai’s navy and charcoal-striped tweed looks. For his part, acclaimed young designer Antonio Azzuolo showed inventive little boy suits paired with dhotis.

Y-3, Adidas’s ongoing line with Yohji Yamamoto, also went rambling, though this time in central Asia and highland Peru, with Ikat prints and Andean peasant hats. The net result recalled Edwardian gentlemen adventurers. Few designers stood up more for a rugged Americana than Michael Kors, who went Rocky Mountain West with shaggy herringbone crombies, tartan cashmere redingotes and fringed alpaca sweaters, the latter ideal for really photogenic skiing moments.

Over at Moncler there were more outdoorsy clothes and it was a case of when the going gets tough, the tough get ... puffas. The brand’s Grenoble label show took place on Central Park’s ice rink and featured figure skating men in lean variations of their trademark quilted puffa jackets, accessorised with long knit gloves: think He-Man Scott of the Antarctic. Just the thing for keeping chill winds – whether real or economic – at bay.

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