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Menswear. Or is it?

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Balmain SS17 Menswear

 

Balmain SS17 Menswear

Balmain SS17 Menswear

The runways of the recent SS17 menswear shows gave us something different this year: women. While the seasonal womenswear shows grab attention even from those who don't have a dedicated interest in fashion, catwalk for men's apparel hasn’t historically made the same impact. It’s only recently that the hype circus has begun to spring up around events like London Collections: Men. And so it seems a little unfair that, just as men’s catwalking is gaining momentum, we are seeing hips and breasts where you were expecting pecs and ..er well you know.

Vestments SS17 Menswear

 

Vestments SS17 Menswear

Vetements SS17 Menswear

There’s been all sorts of speculation about how this could undermine the (comparatively) embryonic men’s style market before it has fully evolved. However, recent shows - such as that by unstoppable hipster train Vetements – could well be a sign of something different: not so much a dilution of the male collection as a blurring of the boundaries of sex with mixed gender catwalks. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen women on the menswear runways – and, to be fair, there have been occasional men on the womenswear catwalks for decades. However, in 2016 this has started to feel like a ‘thing,’ a movement – like it means something.

Devon Halfnight Leflufy SS17 Menswear

 

Devon Halfnight Leflufy SS17 Menswear

Devon Halfnight Leflufy SS17 Menswear

When you think about the business of fashion – the crazy schedule of designers showing six months ahead, all the various resort and pre collections, the couture hype – and then you throw into the mix the changes in the way we want to digest fashion these days, the technology and the demand, suddenly mixed gender catwalk shows potentially make sense. The sheer expense of staging a show is crippling and the world is almost tying itself up in knots trying to cover, shoot, blog, buy and preserve all the output from a show schedule that really never stops. Plus, fashion is the second most environmentally unsound industry behind oil – its decadence and excess can be embarrassingly wasteful and cruel. So, why not contribute less to feeding the rapacious demand and damage by cutting the seasons, mixing the genders and doing it all in one go?

Y-3 SS17 Menswear

 

Y-3 SS17 Menswear

Y-3 SS17 Menswear

It’s certainly a nice thought. But how much is it a pipe dream. Because, let’s be honest, while some designers and brands mix sexes to simplify, others are making sneaky marketing moves. Adding women into the mix provides the opportunity to reveal a taster of an incoming womenswear collection, as well as a chance to show and sell twice as much. Mixing up genders is sometimes a recognition that magazine editors won’t turn out in such numbers for menswear and sometimes there just isn’t the same opportunity to be creative with menswear so designers throw in a few womenswear pieces to deviate from limitations of traditional male silhouettes.

Thaddeus Neil SS17 Menswear

 

Thaddeus Neil SS17 Menswear

Thaddeus Neil SS17 Menswear

As usual with this industry, people never do things for the same reasons. Trends may be a defining characteristic of fashion but that doesn’t mean that designers (or bloggers or models or anyone) move en masse to a new way of doing things. There are different motivations for mixed gender shows and they will probably produce different results for different labels. But regardless of the motives and means, we like the disruption and potential de-separation of the sexes this could bring. Gender is so over man.

Off White SS17 Menswear

 

Off White SS17 Menswear

Off White SS17 Menswear

All images Vogue

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