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The Best of Milan and Pitti Uomo Menswear Spring Summer 2018

All of the shows worth paying attention to

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Milan menswear week is typically when the Italian old guard, labels like Versace, Fendi, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana, reigns supreme. Yet, this year’s Spring/Summer schedule showed how these houses aren’t the ones providing as much needed change from the norm as the relatively smaller brands. So that you’re up to date, we’ve done a breakdown of the most noteworthy shows from Milan’s recent Spring/Summer 2018 menswear week—with an inclusion of some shows from the Pitti Uomo schedule too.

01. J.W. Anderson

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For what seems like the first time ever, Jonathan Anderson has designed clothes for the average man, rather than the slender, androgynous teen that many of his previous collections have been suited to. His guest collection for Pitti Uomo 2017 was jarringly normal. Instead of flaring out with high concept pieces, commonly seen on his runways, more reserved looks were in abundance. There were as many jeans, shorts, sweaters, and chinos as your regular high-street store. These are the types of clothes Anderson is known for wearing himself—someone who, ironically, isn’t keen on buying into high-fashion. It makes sense to know that the inspiration came from his very own wardrobe. More amusingly, though, he said he was also inspired by the outfits of tourists he’d seen swarming the sights of Florence. All this pedestrian inspiration undoubtedly influenced his debut sneaker collaboration with Converse too, which also made it into the collection’s footwear.

02. Off-White

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Despite being an architect by trade Virgil Abloh has really come into his own as a designer in recent years. As the son of an immigrant from Ghana, Abloh used his Off-White show to speak on the plight of refugees. The backdrop for the show, one of Pitti Palace’s towering walls, was adorned with gigantic projections of anti-war messages – words he had collaborated on with legendary artist Jenny Holzer. In keeping with the show’s politics, a utilitarian motif was evident throughout the collection. Many pieces were reminiscent of clothes worn by rescue workers or the rescued—inflatable vests and mariner’s hoods being the most obvious examples.

03. Prada

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Miuccia Prada’s inspiration for her men’s collection was comicstrip art—specifically the clean, linear simplicity of human anatomy within such illustrations. This inspiration was just as obvious in the set for the show as it was for the clothes themselves. Prada’s consistently repurposed space for shows, Via Fogazzaro, was wall-to-wall panelled with graphic art. Obvious elements of comicstrip art made their way into the collection via flourishes of red and baby blue reminiscent of superhero garb, the inclusion of mission-ready jumpsuits, and grid-like prints not dissimilar to the borders seen in any standard comicstrip. The superhero element may have been obvious, but there was also plenty of conservative tailoring on offer for the undercover superhero among us too, particularly those wishing to channel their inner Clark Kent.

04. Sunnei

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Rather than being inspired by something tangible and easily pinned to a mood board, Sunnei’s collection was inspired by the feeling one gets on the very last day of school before Summer break: pure joy. To emphasise such a theme, designers Simone Rizzo and Loris Messina staged their show in the hot hallways of an art school. Much of the collection looked light and breezy to wear, with garments blurring the lines between tailoring and streetwear. The colour palette appropriately indulged in the bright hues of a Summer’s day with yellows, blues, and greens in abundance. Such colours were often side by side in striped patterns—a signature the brand has established after only three shows under its belt. Perhaps the last day of school the collection was inspired by was one that took place in 2006 or 2007, considering the T-shirt that was spotted with Myspace Tom printed on it.

05. Ralph Lauren

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In recent years, Ralph Lauren has been struggling to find its edge and relevance in the apparel market. After a lukewarm attempt to reestablish Polo Sport in 2015, many now associate the brand purely with stiff evening wear. Hopefully this conservative perception of the brand is about to change, considering their men’s collection for spring has expanded into the sports arena with a crowd-pleasing throw-back. Specifically, Ralph Lauren has returned to its well-loved ‘90s aesthetic with the use of the P-Wing and Stadium 1992 graphics emblazoned across many of its form-fitting polos and jerseys. The brand’s decision to look back for their newest collection is likely a response to the ongoing obsession many have with vintage sportswear, a trend that brands like Supreme, Palace, and BAPE have been capitalising on for years now. It’s about time Ralph Lauren, the original supplier of such highly prized vintage sportswear, caught up and reentered the game it created.

06. Palm Angels

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Considering the name of the brand alone prompts one to think of LA, it was quite fitting for Palm Angels to do a show inspired by the City of Angels. Creative director Francesco Ragazzi has experimented with Californian influences before, but this time around the results were more fashion-forward than merchandise-like. Specifically, the Italian designer’s newest collection was motivated by a surf riot that took place on California’s Huntington Beach in 1986. Such inspiration may be peculiar and oddly specific, but it made itself clear through garments that were half activewear and half beachwear. That fashion-forwardness previously mentioned reached climax when water-resistent tracksuits began to invade the runway in every colour under the sun. “Tracksuits are a big thing for me” said Ragazzi of his collection. One might have easily guessed.