We've got the nook

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 July, 2011, 12:00am


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Milan and Paris occupy distinctive but symbiotic roles for men's fashion week. They are the yin and yang of the latest big sartorial offerings in menswear. But how does Hong Kong navigate the host of trends coming from each city's fashion week? Most importantly, what will men on our streets be wearing next spring?

Wearability is key. As seen in Milan, tuxedo elements and fitted double-breasted jackets come in light, calm hues. Summery fabrics might just tempt conservative business dressers into more relaxed spring suits in the heat.

Will Hong Kong men don the threads from Paris fashion week? The minimal elegance of Dior Homme and Jil Sander will be popular, but wild patterns and tennis skirts - see Givenchy - on men are unlikely to make much headway in the city.

Hong Kong has two forces pulling at the threads of our style sensibility. The Ralph Lauren-esque conservatism of an Asian financial centre and ex-British colony remains at the heart of men's fashion here, served by the Giorgio Armanis, Ermenegildo Zegnas and Guccis. But a younger, more daring generation is feasting on more avant-garde labels such as Rick Owens, Issey Miyake, Margiela and mixing them with cool sportswear from Paul Smith or Fred Perry.

The menswear sector continues to grow here. Hong Kong's retailers are stepping up to capture the market, as shown by the recent renovation of the basement of the Landmark as a male-oriented area.

For spring-summer 2012, a more louche, relaxed masculinity reigns - effortless elegance: a turn that could teach most Hong Kong men a thing or two.

Brighter shades and lighter hi-tech fabrics at Gucci and Versace and in the inspired spring jackets of Dries Van Noten, Rick Owens, YSL, Issey Miyake and Burberry Prorsum should prove popular in Hong Kong. And I suspect Sarah Burton's menswear line for Alexander McQueen in all its striped and block-colour glory will be a hit among the label's fans.

Next season's looser shapes are a steadfast foil to the skin-tight, indie-rock archetype of men's ready-to-wear that has dominated Hong Kong in past years.

Strong prints and textures, travel wear and exotic cultures add more eclectic options. Stylish Hong Kong men will be quick to embrace this fresh, light-hearted approach.

Here are four menswear collections we predict to be popular in Hong Kong's fashion scene next spring.

Loosen up with Yohji Yamamoto

Yohji Yamamoto already has an incredible fan base among men here. Its spring-summer 2012 collection is centred around reverence for loose samurai pants, updated for cool contemporaries and stylish older men.

Sensuality and movement is key with these pants - a departure from the drainpipe shape so beloved by the fashion set here. Most pants hit above the ankle in a loose swish of fabric, others were gathered neatly there while kept loose up top - which should prove popular with Hong Kong urbanites.

Long dark jackets slim the torso and add a little more structure and science, whereas the lower half manifests a flurry of movement. The look should be popular with fashion-forward male dressers in Hong Kong, for whom the devil is always in the detail. The fluid tailoring and Japanese aesthetic are well balanced with subtle prints to appeal to men who are into low-key elegance or not yet brave enough to take on some of the crazier patterns of next spring.

The luxe traveller and Louis Vuitton

Think a 1930s aristocratic heir who has travelled the world in style and has a soft spot for light grey suits and African textiles. Briton Kim Jones' first collection as style director of Louis Vuitton menswear was a nod to luxury travel - an important element of the label's DNA. Jones' childhood in Africa inspired Masai tribal influences in the vibrant red- and blue-checked print visual throughout.

Hong Kong men will appreciate LV's basic palette of khakis, creams, light greys, navy blues and browns. Pale summer suits were given a casual twist with pants rolled up. Sporty varsity jackets and stunning knitted sweaters balanced the French sophistication of the label with a hint of American casual. The relaxed masculinity is likely to make it a huge hit with men in Hong Kong - who are learning the pleasures of dressing sharply in light summer suits with a hint of roguish creativity and flair.

Handicraft heritage at Burberry Prorsum

The websites were all abuzz with praise for Burberry Prorsum. Christopher Bailey's latest collection - Handcrafted Heritage - offers fresh colours, style and texture. Bailey says it goes back to the roots of craftsmanship. We are seeing more and more Hong Kong men turned on to the finer points of workmanship in fashion. The look, which also had colourful African influences, was homespun at times but surprisingly elegant. He embraced a new, worldlier, ethnic quirkiness spiced up with crotchet, wooden beading, colourful knits, raffia trim and perfectly placed ikat patterns. We predict that Burberry will score well next spring in Hong Kong. Bailey's foray into textures and richer prints brings optimism to his usual cool sleekness that men in Asia are likely to appreciate.

Light and breezy Ermenegildo Zegna

Zegna's perfect palette for spring is like taking in a deep breath of fresh ocean air. Pale blues and greens, egg shell, cream, light grey and sand-coloured fabrics appearing with Zegna's signature technical prowess and tailored perfectionism.

Slimmer, more fitted silhouettes are perfect for Asian shapes in Hong Kong - and they come with soft sheens and crinkles in the fabric that add a relaxed chic.

Silk provided a sensual base that the stiffer cottons and linens highlighted. Scarves were a fun, dandy touch that you'll see men in Hong Kong picking up next year. This is how you wish people would dress in the summer when you walk through Central and the financial district - a cool, tall drink of water on a hot summer day.