Menswear is dead.
This is a statement that has been reiterated over and over the last few years, referring to the dull, monotonous designs and offering coming out of the high street for men since they first opened shop. Every season we see new trends for women, offering exciting silhouettes, colours, embellishments and more. These then trickle down into Zara, H&M and Topshop, creating a veritable fashion feast for the high street shopper – a.k.a., most of us. But look to the mens section and its a very different story. No matter what the most exciting and innovative mens designers put out, the same old same old appears on the high street’s racks. Sure, Topman do some edgier things at the more expensive (and virtually impossible to track down) end of the spectrum, but if you haven’t got easy access to the Oxford Circus store, you’re kinda screwed my friend.
The assumption has always been that there simply isn’t a market for such extravagant choices when it comes to the male customer, which is still fairly true. Give a woman £1000 and she’ll buy the most stunning dress she can find; give a man the same and he’ll buy something classic and timeless. But where’s the fun in that? The fact of the matter is that there are enough men out there who want to express their individuality through fashion rather than buying the same jeans and t-shirt combo every time they go shopping. This is something that fashion bosses love to ignore.
And that’s exactly why Olivier Roustening’s Balmain collaboration with H&M, coming this November, is so important for the fashion-concious man with his average budget. Featuring gold detailing, subtle embellishments, military inspired pieces and unique leathers, the collection is one of H&M’s most exciting and ambitious collaborations since Versace – and that’s just the menswear. Yes, as always the prices will be slightly elevated. Worth it, I would argue, for a piece of Roustening’s vision and Balmain’s history. Just because a garment is made for wider consumption makes it no less a part of the fashion house’s rich identity. I’m under no assumption that this collection will be to every man’s taste, but for the surprisingly large (and growing) number of men out there who value innovative design and artistic flair when it comes to their wardrobes, Balmain for H&M will be a high point, and set an example to be led.
– Thomas Marrington