2021 saw its first fashion week of the year with menswear’s fall ’21 season. The showings (which ran quickly from Milan to Paris with a Pitti Uomo that is still rolling out) were more virtual than ever, as lockdowns, virus variants and vaccine distribution further complicate a return to normalcy.
The season still had excitement, though — it was just less in the front row and more of what was actually on the runways or in the look books.
Here, 10 trends from the virtual fall ’21 menswear season that will shape the coming fall and winter:
1. Cozy socks
It’s no secret that the pandemic created a big moment for socks. And still, the availability of and excitement for truly directional foot coverings never really materialized — until this season. Puffs of cloud-like knitted materials poked out from plenty of shoes for fall ’21, from loafers to ankle boots.
2. The return of the dress shoe
The hard-soled men’s dress shoe was already on its return to the runways a year ago, with a little extra something to offer. Of course, the pandemic derailed this effort substantially. There were plenty of slipper-like kicks to go around for fall, but designers were also back full throttle to promote the return of a real shoe, mostly in a chunky loafer form that was married with the aforementioned cozy sock.
3. Bucket hats
With the hiking and outdoor trends dominating menswear over the past few seasons, the bucket hat has already been a runway staple. But this time around, they came in more fall-focused prints, like buffalo plaid or hunter green. Isabel Marant’s collection of them seems ripe for a Timothée Chalamet moment.
4. The unabashed man purse
Last year it was the heel, this year it’s the bag. As fashion grows more gender-neutral and inclusive, so have traditionally feminine fashion items — like the high heel, the handbag, jewelry — traveled from women’s-exclusive collections to menswear and all-gender lines.
5. The winter short
Not everyone spends winter in a cold location, and menswear designers seem to have picked up that fact more so than in previous seasons. Or they just know that wearing shorts while working from home is what everyone is actually doing.
6. The sneaker dandy
Sneakers and suits? Not exactly groundbreaking or the coolest combo, despite but grooms around the world may think of themselves. But a few designers offered a new, more progressive take on the styling technique, focusing on suiting looks with a whole lot of peacock.
7. True blue
Maybe it’s the current malaise of the circumstances — or perhaps designers are looking to blue skies ahead. Glass half empty or full, a rich, true, royal-to-cornflower blue hue traveled from collection to collection this menswear season. It was on sporty chinos and crossbody bags plus jackets, hats and pretty much anything. Expect this hue to trickle down everywhere later this year.
8. The wear-with-it-all Wellie
Fall ’20’s inadvertent apocalyptic pandemic boot lives on, at least in menswear (we’ll be keeping a close eye on its possible return in women’s collections next month). The Wellington rubber boot proves that it can be worn with anything, from proper British looks to more avant-garde ensembles (and in mint green).
Sporty pieces continued to weave themselves throughout men’s collections, even if they were paired with dressier items. The anorak is proving to be a jacket style for all occasions, whether it’s included in a full outdoor look (it’s even gaining traction in the current season ski and snowboard market) or the topper to the shorts-and-loafers situation.
10. Masculine ruffles
Who said ruffles had to be feminine anyway? Swirls and origami folds seemed to send another subtle but loud message about masculinity in 2021. They were on shirt, jackets — in ruching on the sleeves of suits at Prada — and even along the creases of trousers, as shown at Y/Project.