HTSI editor’s letter: inside the menswear issue
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
I write this in the midst of fashion month, when we are typically looking at the women’s collections that will dictate the autumn trends. Except this season I’ve seen as much menswear on the catwalks as I have clothes designed for women. And, it seems, as many boys as girls. As such, the names that have arisen within the industry are changing, with menswear models, long the economic underdogs of fashion, emerging as its most exciting stars.
The “new supers” show how far the fashion world has changed. Along with the casting director and HTSI contributing editor Ben Grimes, photographer Amit Israeli and stylist James Valeri have put together a stunning snapshot of the industry. Cover star Leon Dame has already featured on the cover of HTSI and walked dozens of catwalks: he brings a mercurial energy and sense of theatre to proceedings as one of the rare models who really inhabits a character. Likewise Malick Bodian, who starred on our celebration cover last year and is as busy behind the lens as he is before it. The experience of being a photographer must inform the way he moves; in pictures he recalls the ’50s models shot by Norman Parkinson.
Menswear itself is still caught between two axioms – the one that follows the lust for more casual, logo-driven labels (the business chasing the Gen Z and millennial dollar) and those representing more traditional tastes. Even the most illustrious names in tailoring, however, have had to reconsider the working uniform and Jessica Beresford has looked at the challenges and triumphs facing heritage labels as they adapt to changing styles. Some brands, such as Berluti, are cleaving closer to their specialisms, whether leather goods or footwear, while others have opened up their houses to become broader and more “lifestyle” in range. The suit is the subject of ongoing paranoia, especially as the modern professional has dispensed with it and so many of its accessories. The successful heritage label is one that can offer something modern while making the traditionalists feel comfortable as well.
And what could be more traditional than a giant repeat check? Nick Foulkes, an icon of bespoke suiting, has always been a fan of the Duke of Windsor’s epic windowpanes, although the big check is something I have tended to associate with Weekend at Bernie’s or the pro-celebrity golf circuit. Nick assures me I am wrong; he sits among an esteemed group of far more sophisticated tastemakers – see Harry Styles and Austin Butler – who have determined the giant check is the Big Trend of summer 2023.
Lastly, to Trieste, the Italian city that sits on the doorstep of Slovenia and is therefore often overlooked. I visited for the first time last summer and was captivated by its architecture, its multicultural mash-ups and its otherworldly light. It’s also home to one of the most prestigious fashion schools in Europe and a talent competition that nurtured such names as Matthieu Blazy, Demna and the duo behind Chopova Lowena. Lee Marshall heads there as the school opens a new centre for its library and archives, and explores a cultural scene that is once again putting the city on the map. That said, anywhere that spurred James Joyce to write one of the greatest novels in existence should be reason enough to go.
For the best of HTSI straight into your inbox, sign up to our newsletter at ft.com/newsletters