IT’S OFFICIAL: The skinny silhouette is a thing of the past. From jeans to suits, designers this season—in particular, some of the most exciting names rising the fashion ranks—are betting that bigger is better. A desire to dress up again coupled with a penchant for comfort dressing born out of the past two years, have resulted in a paradigm shift in menswear’s predominant silhouette—the season’s most desirable suiting and separates have been scaled up to proportions that offer all the ease and cocooning cosiness of a house robe.
While silhouettes have expanded before—fashion does tend to oscillate between extremes every few years—what’s new about the shift this time around is that it is not informed by streetwear, like it was a few years ago when Vetements hit peak popularity with its oversize hoodies and t-shirts. This time, the oversize look is sculpted around the body to emphasise it, instead of merely concealing it. The result is a certain sense of elegance and romance—rooted in classical menswear traditions while at the same time subverting them.
One of the most interesting designers working in this vein at the moment is the Israeli-born, Paris-based Hed Mayner, who was shortlisted for the 2019 LVMH Prize and walked away with its Karl Lagerfeld Prize (formerly known as the Special Jury Prize). Mayner’s work has a sense of the traditional and the timeless—almost like pieces you’d find in the back of your grandfather’s closet—but it also reflects a softer, more soulful kind of masculinity. His clothes may be gargantuan, but they are also beautifully tailored—the body doesn’t disappear into them. And despite their size, there is something delicate about the way they fold and fall around the figure.
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Willy Chavarria is another designer who blends supersized silhouettes with a tender sensibility. His hulking proportions are drawn from New York Latinx culture, filtered through a romantic lens. A heady mix of regality and grit, the work of the Mexican-American designer also carries political undertones—one reason why his clothes are so big is because of the designer’s desire to see brown and queer people (his community) taking up more space.
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Equally romantic in his reimaginings of traditional menswear is the British designer, Steven Stokey-Daley, whose label, S.S. Daley won this year’s LVMH Prize. His billowing, blousy pieces—of which Harry Styles is a fan—often evoke the uniforms of posh boarding schools crossed with the old tapestries and curtains of grand English manors. A self-confessed theatre geek, there is a lush theatricality to his clothes and their proportions—though they never veer into costume territory. It’s reflective of a quality shared by all the designers spotlit here—their ideas may be big, their clothes even more so, but bigness can also be synonymous with softness and grace.