Editor's Note: All copy and imagery provided by WGSN.
As the menswear market continues to grow at a faster rate than womenswear, new opportunities are surfacing for category growth and technological advancement. Keep an eye on these key areas to get a leg up on the competition in A/W 20/21.
Optimize Your Outerwear: the demands put on outerwear are greater than ever, with consumers expecting benefits such as lightweight heat retention, transseasonal design and travel-ready packability alongside elevated and beautiful designs. This plays into a trend that we’ve been tracking over the past year that we’ve called the Future Commuter - which really centers around tech wear fusing with Fashion for the smart urbanite that’s always on the go.
Support Sustainable Solutions: it's no longer a question of if, but how brands will be sustainable. Find the solution that works best for your business, from circular rental models to adopting new fibers. Sustainability = Minefield. Do your research, think about smart initiatives, get repurposing, utilize dead-stock - just make a start!
Comfort-Proof Your Tailoring: Casualization of the workplace - while hybrid designs and hi-lo styling has become the new norm in menswear, A/W 20/21 takes this mantra one step further, expecting comfort to be seamlessly embedded in clothing without disrupting designs.
Inclusivity Impacts Menswear: Strides made in the plus-size womenswear market are directly impacting mens. The rise of direct to consumer brands is largely attributed to market disruption. Prevent losing business by sussing out opportunities ripe for reinvention, such as technical suiting or big and tall sizing.
Systems for Dressing: An organized approach to dressing declutters the path to purchase. Future consumers will be mindful of waste - offering a really streamlined capsule wardrobe, easily presented and digestible.
Preppy Red: Bright, signal red shades nod to relevant pop culture themes such as horror movies and subcultures like punk, also qualifying as easier-to-sell fashion colors. This bright and playful, full-blooded red is both traditional within collegiate stories, but also has a history as a subversive and powerful color.
Tannin Brown: Gently retro looks are continuing to trend, ensuring mid-century, mid-brown tones are remaining key for being a real palatable version of the 70s trend that’s continuing to filter down. Riff off the success of beige on beige styling and layer up different tones, styling with rich coffee and golden browns.
Mineral Blue: Pale purist blue was big for S/S 20, and this deeper shade is the natural move on for winter. Lighter blue tones might feel synonymous with spring, but they’re ideal for enabling weather-ready, commuter-inspired styles to work in grey, black and navy shades that resemble office attire. Easy to dress up or down, this shade will re-invigorate tailoring or bring freshness to cut-and-sew ranges.
Amber: Old gold tones have been up-trending on the catwalks, noted at brands such as Qasmi, Ami and Rhude. They work particularly well on outerwear, tactile corduroys and velvets and felted wools.If outerwear items seem too much of a risk, then trial this tone on knits or cut-and-sew items. This shade is newer than the jewel tones of recent seasons and also updates classic camel tones.
Grey Matter: Supported by the prevalence of grey on the catwalks and at the Grammys confirms this will be a key core color. Grey-on-grey styling is key, and ensures this shade is important across all product categories for men. It's important to note that juxtaposing these gentle retro hues against hyperbrights and soft neons is uptrending.
Pink Power: Soft, slightly dirty pinks will become important again, particularly for smarter looks. Although the hype around pink may be dying away, it's still important to mark its progression as it remains relevant as the color expands into knitwear, shirts, outerwear and tailoring. The pink suit has been reinforced by its continuing presence on the catwalk and across street style - and is part of the trend for expanding mens occasionwear choices beyond the black tuxedo.
Corduroy: Tactile and cosy, it was introduced via traditional and core colours, but newness now stems from experimental applications.
Plaid Flannel: Continuing 90s Nostalgia and grunge trends mean over-shirts are a must-have item, whilst cleaner looks come from the rise of preppy attire. Comfort is a key driving factor across menswear, and the warm, tactile handle of brushed cotton will deliver on this.
Plaid Wool: Blanket checks and lumberjack-style plaids are ideal for casual-feeling shackets, lined with plush or quilting. Smaller-scale and more traditionally English checks feel right for neater collared coat shapes as well as standalone trousers in contemporary silhouettes.
Grey Melange: As the suit and matching set makes a trend-led comeback, grey mélange and other textured monochrome fabrics are set for a renaissance as well. From worsteds through to high-twist wools, meltons and tweeds, there is a rise of grey tones in mélange from key brands.
Interiors-Inspired: Super versatile, bold jacquards are seen across matching leisure pieces right through to tailored items ideal for celebrations and the holidays. From furnishing florals, paisleys and carpet bag looks to high-glamour lurex yarns, there is a breadth of direction to offer.
Plush: As luxury and comfort become increasingly intertwined, a strong emphasis on plush finishes has elevated this cosy material. Nodding to the pervasive urban outdoors trend we’ve been tracking is noted across product types. Comfy Borg and fleece materials must convey cosiness, anything with a course handful is falling by the wayside.
Utility Cottons: With utility and workwear themes remaining as important as ever, cotton twill, drill and canvas as well as simple poplins, are still key. For sustainability, look to better dyeing practices, leverage deadstock fabric, or rework existing workwear classics for limited-run collections.
Performance Enhanced: Driven by the need to be climate-adaptable, functional items need to walk the walk - think waterproof, windproof, stain-resist and warmth-retaining properties that are all marketable, future-proofing assortments for unpredictable weather patterns.
Camo Updates: Camo is universally understood across the menswear market, which means in a risk-adverse atmosphere, brands can afford to push the envelope and experiment with this print. Recolored versions, randomized tie-dye effects and riffs on natures texture will all be important.
Bandana and Paisley: Hitting down across a range of credible brands such as Kapital and Noah, the trend for paisley is hard to ignore. This is equally confirmed across the streetstyle, particularly in Asia, which are often the key early adopters of trend.
Patchwork: Seen on the catwalks, at trade shows and street style, patch working is a fast-tracking trend, that’s mushroomed out across all product types. An easy way to update simple shapes, this is also a super easy way to design sustainably and give more of a reason to buy something unique.
Dormcore: Despite still going strong, norm core is starting to saturate - and so we’ve been tracking the rise of Dorm core - which sheds the former's ivy league stuffiness in favor of a streetwear-led vibe. Blocky varsity fonts, chenille badges and collegiate team logos might feel less than new, so splice them up or recolor to update.
The Mundane: Riffing of the banality of the everyday, the mundane is a graphic trend that really kicked off within streetwear - think care labels, tags and receipts to inspire graphic themes. This has been huge across street style, with lots of early adopters customizing their own pieces.
Spliced: The trend will move on in some less conventional takes on collegiate and team sports styling. Cut-out techniques will enable a youthful, fun element to amp-up the varsity theme. On tees, sweats and more, logos, letterman badges, brand name decals and bold blocks of color are paneled, cut-off or spliced together to create something new and eye-catching.
Furnishing Florals: Furnishing florals might be one of the last vestiges of the maximal flavor Gucci spearheaded some seasons ago. Prints that you’d expect to see in your grandparents house and even paisleys are used to give gilets, bombers, hoodies and field jackets an unexpected spin.
Animal Evolution: Animal print is evolving beyond the realms of just true leopard print. Although mostly for the younger end of the market up to now, consumers now understand animal print - which is seeing designers experiment with more abstract versions, different scales and muted color-ways paving the way for the print to become mainstream.
Topstitch: Seen on the catwalks for the past few seasons now, topstitching continues to be an important trim detail. Don’t think of this as only for utility looks and conventional applications on over-shirts and outerwear, as it's also important to add to tailoring pieces to tap into the design detail blazer trend.
Satin Details: Due to the rise in the soft masculinity aesthetic, driven by Gucci and Dior - satin fabric has had a noted an increased presence within menswear over the last two seasons. Using as a trim on lapels and pockets will work for your more commercial customer, whilst allover applications will be reserved for the directional man.
Clip Fastenings: Hyper-functional, these usually plastic adjustable fasteners find homes beyond accessories and outdoor styles such as technical-looking urban parkas and smart trousers, and features. Push sustainability through elements of recycled fabric and the up-cycling of bags, tents and other non-apparel items yield creative and sustainable trims.
3D Pockets: The statement pocket has been on the trend watchlist for a while now, driven by catwalks and utility trends. Upspeccing outerwear will make for a considered update, while on trousers and shirts, three-dimensional pockets cater to the fashion buy.
Piecework: With sustainability high on the agenda, the panelling trend has been driven by up-cycling. Brands use vintage fabrics, industrial deadstock and their own dark-stored fabrics to create options that showcase eco themes that talk about credentials and raise awareness with consumers.
Oversized Cords: Although building steadily over the past couple of seasons, corduroy has yet to reach critical mass. Trousers remain an attractive proposition. These slouchy fits ease the transition from youth-driven streetwear trends to smarter, preppy and country themes that will have broad appeal.
Wide Cropped Trouser: This trouser is finding its footing as the most commercial in-road for the wider cuts designers are sending down the catwalks. Formal detailing and construction complement grown-up fabric choices. Add pleats, extended tabs and ticket pockets to complete the look.
Commuter Trouser: As boundaries around acceptable office-wear are broken down and more of us work from home, a new genre is created, and clothing we might easily wear to work, after work and at home comes to the fore.Prepare for this trend by rethinking materials and trims such as pockets to accommodate modern lifestyles. An easy entry point is just simple additions like clip fastening belts and weatherproof materials.
Paneled Shirt: Shirts have new relevance thanks to layered looks, and within this new prominence, panelling has been trending strongly and it finds a natural fit on the humble button-through shirt. A perfect fit for the prep trend, panelling trend is a gift for up-cycling. Rework vintage styles or reuse your own dead-stock and make sure you market your eco efforts.
Overshirt: Still very much key for the conservative customer, this style is often used as a mid-layer, and is a useful vehicle for color and pattern. This really is a key core item now, whether in utility plains, plaids or even future commuter ready nylons.
Well-Designed Blazer: The distinct shift away from streetwear on the catwalks confirms our prediction that menswear really is smartening up - and the blazer is going to be your hero item within this movement. Think about your consumer and how they are most likely to wear it. If they are young and directional, great - go for an oversized shape. But for the more mature market classic slim line fits will work best.
Retro Lapel Blazer: Timeless and classic the retro lapel blazer is central to the gentle retro revival. It's the relaxed fit with a wider lapel that comes to the fore, confirming the most accessible shape in familiar textures such as cord or wools plaids. Relatively unstructured, it has a useful informal feel and works as a versatile separate.
Sporty Striped Crew: Creative knitwear designers are bringing the simple crew-neck into sweatshirt territory. It's another piece among several that continues to mark the point at which streetwear themes are becoming smarter and more preppy, with elegant yarns knitted into engineered or blocked stripes in tones that fit the new preppy vibe.
Cable Knit Crew: Almost as a reaction to the slick feel of the sports stripe crew, this cable crew is as much a trending statement piece. With outdoor style still riding high and vintage and archive looks also important, this piece makes sense. Classic stitches in wool, blends or cotton yarns make an appearance, with bright colour versions providing a directional take on the traditional oat and cream tones.
Rib Roll Neck: The revival of this piece is a logical element of the trend for layering as well as the #90s looks that just keep coming. Teamed with tailored trousers, a blazer or technical outerwear, echoes of 1990s Prada are clear. Look to retro references and don't be afraid to keep things simple. If this style is a regular essential for you, then allocate budget and options for the design-focused version, with stitch interest and a more stylized neck trim.
Paneled Tee: While fits remain relatively stationary, the panelling theme key across men's apparel is gripping T-shirt styling. Retro and vintage looks have a simple and clean feel, while upcycled and post-modern themes hold sway at the more directional end of things. Play with easy contrast colours or opt for the bold interplay of hectic prints and plains.
Rugby Shirt: Fresh from the success of new prep, the rugby shirt is making a comeback, cross referencing its appearance in the 1990s as part of hip-hop culture and as a staple of 1980s casual looks. Reassess your long-sleeve assortment to take in some trend-led options by choosing rich retro tones, or try newer, unexpected shades for a directional look.
Sporty Polo: A similar story to the rugby shirt, but considerably more accessible. The classic polo is riding high again, with its popularity set to last well into A/W 20/21. Overall, the design is notably less subtle. The key is to be brave - play with colour blocking in contrasting primaries.
Camping Fleece: Similar to the over-shirt, the fleece top breaks down the boundary between outerwear and other categories, and as long as the interest in functional and practical pieces rooted in outdoor living remains, these styles will keep trending. Stick to traditional colourways, or for the more directional youth consumer, play with printed fleece in true camo’s or even paisleys.
4-Pocket Jacket: It feels like this item has only just dipped out of directional trend territory, but it's fast-tracking back again. For that injection of newness, add three-dimensional pockets, topstitch, contrast panelling, or try new and bold color options.
Tech Parka: Tapping the trend for performance meeting style, this item has trended from the catwalks and met the rising outdoor lifestyle trend head on. Update this piece with performance fabrics, technical trims, bold panelling and statement pockets details. Collaboration can be your best friend here - consider which brands you can team up with to achieve the best of both worlds.
Topcoat: The topcoat has built nicely since last A/W, and remains absolutely huge across the A/W 20/21 catwalks. As heritage checks reach critical mass, this season probably heralds the last chance to capitalize on this piece. Opt for bolder checks, hairier, loftier fabrics and interesting finishes to create newness, or add practicality with reversible features, modern tech pockets and details. If this style is dressy enough, it can work as the top layer to holiday and party wear.