Oscar Calvo Apparel magazine, August 2005, Pg. 52 & 53
Concervative & cool replaces big & bold
Cleaner looks are emerging in new season offers for the young urban male as chaotic patterning in streetwear is toned down and pants become narrower as part of a broader shift to a more conservative style in menswear.
BY CHERYL HARTY
Streetwear became its own category in the early 1990s through the hip-hop and dance movement and was heavily influenced through what was happening in the US and UK. In its many forms, streetwear has evolved from being a sub-category in fashion to a dominant category that is universal. Some couture as well as mainstream brands have now moved into streetwear, much of which is designed to work in with denim.
While many of the ‘extreme’ looks that had their basis in surf and skatewear are pared back in newer designs coming through, they still reflect ‘attitude’, and a sense of cool is maintained through a retro edge. One of the key looks in fashion today driving the younger male apparel segment is fitted dark suit jackets in cord or velvet, vintage tees, floral and patterned fitted shirts and knit tops matched with skinny hipster trousers, according to Melbourne menswear designer, Oscar Calvo, a one-time area manger for racewear specialist, Barbara Wilson.
Calvo, who has produced his own eponymous label now for two seasons, also cites torn pre-washed denim jeans teamed with diamond adornment and colourful “euroshoes”, printed tees, bold striped tops, pastel polos and military looks among contemporary urban looks for younger guys today.
“All of these looks have previously been niche seasonal trends, which now have been done to death by the mainstream clothing apparel market, including major budget variety stores such as Target and K Mart,” he said.
Calvo observed that colour is important both in tailored menswear and streetwear now, especially pink.
“The palette has expanded from safe blue and earth tones to hot pink and neon. Pink is easy to co-ordinate with almost every colour in your wardrobe. It goes fabulously with greys, tans, black, navies and other blue tones.”
Calvo has incorporated European fabrics with fine merino wool and cottons in his Summer 05/06 collection. Aiming for a casual glam look, key looks are combed cotton raw edged polo tops in a range of pale hues, retro-inspired cotton polo knits in technicolur nautical stripes, and quirky comic printed tees with contrasting panels. Two pant offerings in this range are the classic soft Italian woollen pant and a straight leg cotton drill pant with intricate stitching detail.
Up until now, Calvo said that fashion has always been seen to be a women’s domain but pointed out that today men are increasingly accessorising and co-ordinating. “Today men are interested in looking good. The trend can be attributed to many things, including an increase in men’s style magazines, influential male celebrities being photographed and designers catering to male customers.”
According to Austin Group’s urbanwear manager, Craig Thomas, some of the stronger trends in the current market can be broken into two parts: One is the prep or varsity look, which borrows inspiration directly from the US and UK; the second is an amalgamation of punk, combined with prep and eighties music-styled clothing.
“The trend is probably more left of centre than a straight prep look, but it is far more interesting and less prone to copying, as it really relies on imagination and real interpretation by the Australian brands and labels. It is a very fast forward look, and the wearer does need a strong sense of style to pull it off. As yet, it has not hit mainstream acceptance.”
“Now couture as well as mainstream brands are releasing streetwear under their labels as it is such a strong genre in fashion.”
Designer of the Vicious Threads label, Melbourne-based Ivan Gomez, pointed out that we have entered an era where sounds and styles are being created through ‘hybridising’.
“Two strong and prominent music styles are combined together to create one – that is, rock/dance and country/R&B. The same can be said for streetwear. Now couture as well as mainstream brands are releasing streetwear under their labels as it is such a strong genre in fashion,” he said.
Thomas pointed to growing innovation in the Japanese market: “These guys influence household name designers in Europe and the USA.”
A change of style in streetwear was definitely underway, Thomas observed,with the cleaning up of lines and artwork specifically being one difference.
In some quarters, the lines between streetwear and surfwear appear to have blurred. Thomas confirmed this is the case.
“The larger surfwear labels have definitely borrowed from the street look to retain their market’s share. However if you look at their ranges in an overall context, they still maintain their surfwear identity very strongly,” he said. “At Austin, we design our range of tops especially to work back with denim. It’s a crucial part of our business and one of our strengths.”
After introducing a range of tees last Christmas, ACTbased What Joe Says’ David De Silva dabbled in online sales before picking up a number of accounts at Fashion Exposed in March.
De Silva said one of the best selling points of the short and long sleeve What Joe Says T-shirt range was that it was not made offshore.
“My retailers like the fact that the T-shirts are slim fit, made in Australia and available at a price point that they can afford to sell, and still make a decent profit on.”
The What Joe Says Summer 2006 range comprises pale pink, lemon and sky shades with khaki and chocolate.
While De Silva conceded there were points where streetwear and surfwear blurred, he said the designs he was menswear doing “are a lot different” to what a surf label would do.
“Broadly speaking, surf designs can be messy but streetwear designs can be bold without having that spray-painted abstract look. Streetwear is a lot smaller than the surf market because I think surf market designs are more for everyday whereas a lot more thought goes into streetwear, which picks up on cues in music and culture and the attitudes of the day.”
Along with a brighter colour palette, a swing to decorative stitching in menswear has also emerged. Menswear chain, Tarocash, featured embroidered and vertical stripe shirts in pastel colours and polos, denim and long sleeve knitted tops in its urban Winter 2005 range. Marketing Manager, Malcolm Davidowitz, told Apparel that pinks and mints would feature heavily in the upcoming Tarocash Summer offer and stripes and polos would remain very strong.
“Everything now is going to a much more cleaner look and slacks and other pants are becoming lot more dressier. All of our denims are moving to 19 inches, which is a narrow leg.”
Calvo forecasted that the dress code for the tailored bloke will move to a leaner, but not tight, cut.
“I think we will see shrunken single or two button tailored suit jackets with high-hip, skinny trousers and slip-on shoes in dazzling colours. Floral and patterned fitted shirts will continue to be a blast from the past.”
The smart, casual streetwear guy will adopt a more conservative approach, but with styles that clash, he said.
“You could almost say ‘eurotrash’ hits the streets. The overkill of printed raw edge tees will hopefully vanish and become a more in-tuned graphic component,” said Calvo. “Torn hipster jeans – in a pale wash – or pants that look demolished will continue to be big. Tailored fitted floral and patterned shirts will continue to mix with denim bottoms. Low-neck knits showing the bare chest and inspired nerd knits in stripes will also be a winner matched with skater sneakers in bright colors.”