Men in shorts, with a summer twist

Summer menswear designs celebrate the stylishly offbeat traveller, with bold colours, daring mix-and-match pieces and even a rethink of the classic Bermuda, write Daniela Petroff and Colleen Barry

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 July, 2013, 1:10pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

The man on the move, be it with a big backpack, an oversized shopper or the old-fashioned carry-on, was the key theme of high-end labels showcasing their designs for next summer at Milan’s Fashion Week, which wrapped up last week.

Seventy-eight designers showed at this men’s fashion week, where efforts were made to highlight young talents. Bermuda shorts and the light summer suit emerged as winners in the style stakes.

Next summer’s styles are more relaxed than formal, featuring looser jackets, often with the sleeves rolled or scrunched up – all reminiscent of a confident and moneyed traveller.

The travelling man was seen at Prada, Missoni, Marni, Vivienne Westwood, Dsquared2 and Dolce & Gabbana. 

Missoni’s West African inspirations made for fantastic prints and earthy hues, with a hint of 1970s safari.

Dsquared2 interpreted this as a modern Robinson Crusoe-style wardrobe, complete with tropical island. Westwood’s collection was casual chic with African references, from the striped linen used for a long kaftan shirt or a summer suit, to baggy pants, geometric prints and sandals.

There was also a sense of utility that piggybacked the leisure and travel vibe of these spring-summer collections, like the sporty zipper tops at Gucci. 

The Marni man can keep his hands free, with garments featuring inventive utility pockets and layering. Hidden zip pockets on the sleeves of cotton shirts are perfect  for a credit card for a night  out. There are slanted zipper pockets on boxer-style  shorts with drawstrings and bomber-style jackets.

The summer suit makes a huge comeback next year, in more shapes, fabrics and colours than ever. Jil Sander embraces the summer suit with a snug jacket paired with Bermuda shorts. She fashions her new suit in such daring colours – especially for the no-nonsense designer – as apricot, fuchsia and cranberry.

Colours and fabrics also define the new suit. Along  with the staple grey, beige, blue and lots of white, the suit can come in floral or geometric prints, or bright colours as lobster red and fluorescent green. There are also plenty of two-tone versions with cranberry and teal being the favourite combination.

But overall colours this season are not classic summer fare. They are more sober and on the dark side, with some designers leaving room for brighter notes with pinks, yellow, teal and light blues.

Fendi said in its show notes that it wanted to prepare men for the summer elements with a palette that mixed accents of terracotta, ochre, chalk and coal. Pixilated prints add a contemporary touch.

Extra lightness, as well as a techno look and detailing were popular. Emporio Armani presented an elegant wardrobe where menswear classics are made contemporary through the use of techno fabrics and laser techniques.

The shorts are proving versatile – such as at Versace, Zegna and Dolce – going with jackets, ample overcoats or, for the truly buff, nothing at all

Many designers continued to search for new ways to work with fabrics, bonding instead of stitching, laser-cutting, giving a matte finish to a normally shiny fabric, and vice versa, and stamping prints on finished garments for a bespoke touch.

Giorgio Armani returns to his first love – the jacket – for next summer in his main line.  This new jacket is less formal than in past seasons, slim-fitting and with a sloped shoulder. “The traditional tailored jacket is out of fashion,” says Armani.

Rather than light wool or linen, Armani fashions his new jacket in stretch jersey or pixilated leather. He dares  to stray from conventional blues and greys (although they both appear in the new collection) to offer light pastels, whites and even a flesh-coloured pink.

Stefano Pilati’s  inaugural collection for Ermenegildo Zegna,  however, invites men to roll up their sleeves. Pilati, formerly from Yves Saint Laurent,  inventively fit contrasting scrunched, crumpled cuffs (suggestive of armbands) on tailored jackets, coats and fine sweaters. The collection was full of rich detail. Voluminous overcoats were worn over suits, while more fitted coats were cinched at the waist.

Prints are a big deal for menswear now: floral, animal or geometric. They aren’t just for accents but are used for jackets and entire suits as in Frankie Morello and Versace. Gucci creative director Frida Giannini’s romantic take had floral prints on pants, T-shirts, suits and a reinvented Mackintosh raincoat. 

Miuccia Prada says she is questioning the very meaning of summer and the exotic in her latest designs, delivering satin floral prints that are clearly associated with the Pacific. These are not paired with the classic linen gin and tonic suit, but with a traditional double-breasted pinstripe. She again engineered something extremely quirky with colourful vintage ’40s Aloha-style printed tops.

Against romantic orchestral music and the backdrop of a twisted old olive tree, the Dolce & Gabbana collection presented Saturday referenced Sicily.

The duo also stamped their creations with images of ancient Greek temples and rural scenes, imprinted across three-piece suits and loose top and shorts combinations.

There was formality with bold suits in shimmering  red and blue or sombre black, as well as a casual and lusty  vibe, with drawstring pants  or Bermudas worn with nothing at all.

Someone clearly got a little too lusty – a man news reports say he’s affiliated with a blog, and is a regular streaker.. stripped and streaked across the catwalk before being caught by security.

Men will be happy to see relaxed suits, worn without ties. In many outfits the T-shirt replaces the classic shirt. There is a huge push for men’s high fashion to blend in with upper casual. For example, the most avant-garde suit from the Milan shows comes with a fitted jacket paired with Bermuda shorts, a look that a few daring fashion followers attending the shows have already embraced.

Bermuda shorts are another essential piece for next summer, whether you like it or not. But these designers prove that the Bermuda’s bad reputation can be turned around quickly.

Many runways look were built around Bermudas, baggy or tailored, but always above the knee. The shorts are proving versatile – such as at Versace, Zegna and Dolce – going with jackets, ample overcoats or, for the truly buff, nothing at all.

British designer Neil Barrett’s suits had shorts and open, loose jackets. The clean simplicity keeps the look cutting edge. Men won’t have  to wait for casual Fridays to wear shorts to the office.

Donatella Versace’s shorts were definitely more for play than work, though, in a collection based on athletic themes from boxing to swimming to colourful muscle patches like those worn by tennis players. The boxing theme came in a robe with a huge green fluorescent Medusa on the back, and silk shorts. Not for shy and retiring types.

Associated Press with additional reporting  by Jing Zhang