What Do the Discerning Men Want?
Fashion weeks offer up such a glut of the newest, latest, coolest, costliest, most insane, most fire and sometimes least obtainable objects that you might think they’d make monks of men’s wear experts. Yet, like gear heads, guys who look at clothes occupationally also geek out in their off time. Caught on the move as the men’s wear circuit migrated from Florence to Milan and Paris, some discerning fashion insiders weighed in this week on what they covet now.
“For coats, I still love my big raglans,” said Josh Peskowitz, a onetime honcho at Bloomingdale’s and Moda Operandi, and a designer best known for collaborations with Levi’s Made & Crafted line and his Instagram overcoat chronicles. “But suddenly I’m into duffle coats for the first time in a long time. I’m also totally into some new moccasin-toe work boots from Yuketen. I love them.”
Yuki Matsuda, he continued, “is a genius.” He was referring to the Japanese leather goods designer who started the Yuketen label in 1989 and is a favorite of passionate men’s wear consumers like the musician John Mayer. “He’s just been doing his thing for 25 years, trends be damned,” Mr. Peskowitz said. “And his stuff just lasts and is cool and super-special in a nondescript unless-you’re-a-style-wonk kind of way.’’
Right now, said Eugene Rabkin, the founder of Stylezeitgeist.com, “it’s all about Takahiromiyashita TheSoloist.” Mr. Miyashita is a cult Japanese designer whose appearances on the Paris Fashion Week roster are highly anticipated by cognoscenti.
“I feel like he is taking on the prevalent banality of men’s fashion and pushing himself to the limit in terms of design,” Mr. Rabkin said. “Many of the garments in his new collection are cut back to front, and the construction and quality of materials is completely mind-blowing. Right now, I am dying for his back-to-front Savile Row-grade woolen coat.”
Craig Green, Mr. Rabkin continued, is a perennial favorite, beloved for his utilitarian, unfussy and yet highly considered take on men’s wear. (And also, on occasion, for garments containing exoskeletal armatures, just the thing for dressing on Mars.) “I thought his spring 2023 collection was brilliant,” Mr. Rabkin said.
Slip-on footwear is the not-so-obscure object of desire for Bruce Pask, the men’s fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. “Personally I’m very into mules, especially when worn in a dressier, unexpected context — say, with a tweed suit,” said Mr. Pask, who has been giving this form of high-low dressing a significant trial run at the runway shows in Paris despite the cold. “I guess you could say that I’m one of the many #muleboyz out there.”
“We’ve seen clever collabs and interpretations of Birkenstock’s classic, and now hard to find, Boston style from Dior and Rick Owens, as well as Tremaine Emory’s Dior Tears mules and Marni’s colorful, fuzzy slippers,” he continued. “But Loro Piana’s new Babouche, a slide version of their hit Summer Walk casual loafer, is also a winner.” Ditto Sabah El Paso rough-out suede loafer, a personal favorite of Mr. Pask’s.
Matt Hranek is a photographer, the founder and editor of Wm Brown Magazine, a style chronicle, and author of “A Man & His Watch” and “A Man & His Car.” “I guess as I’m getting older, I lean more into the foreign correspondent’s uniform,” he said by email from Cairo, where he went directly from the Pitti Uomo men’s wear fair in Florence. “Think Guy Hamilton in ‘The Year of Living Dangerously.’”
Mr. Hranek owns many variations of the safari jacket in all kinds of fabrics, he said. “It’s all very much my fantasy of life as that ’60s international correspondent,” he added, “And I also want piles of roll-necks in fine lamb’s wool and cashmere that can look great with a jacket or suit.”
Recent, the “most impractical item’’ he cannot get enough of, Mr. Hranek noted, was, of all the grandpacore items, a dressing gown. “I can’t get enough robes — nice robes in light cotton or seersucker or wool and cashmere in solids and stripes. They’re not very easy to pack but — not unlike the feeling of tossing a tuxedo in your bag for the just-in-case moment — you’re glad you did.”
Mordechai Shlomo Rubinstein, the ubiquitous street-style photographer known by his legions of Instagram followers as @mrmort, is “obsessed with stuff, period,” he said. “Short scarves, slides, merino wool for layering, cashmere and wide-wale corduroy to feel rich and comfy while dressed.” Packing for Pitti Uomo was “a total acid trip,” he said. “I waltz to the closet and either wear what I’ve been wearing all season or try newness, if there’s energy.”
Energy was in abundant supply in Florence for Mr. Mort, who was spotted everywhere looking like what would happen if you put “The Official Preppy Handbook” in a blender and pulsed for 30 seconds on high. His look then and always is universes away from the monochrome attire he wore growing up in a traditional Hasidic community.
“The thing about Pitti is we are all peacocking about, and editors, stylists and folks like myself are eyes peeled for what’s next,” he said. “Then, the last day, after you’ve taken it all in, you say to yourself: ‘Wow, I need a silk scarf. I need a cowboy hat. I need a certain kind of trousers.’”
Scott Schuman, the Milan-based street-style photographer known as The Sartorialist, is fixated on a dressing gown from Loretta Caponi, the Florentine manufacturer best known for the wildly pricey linens she purveys to Italy’s carriage trade. “What I want is a wool robe,” Mr. Schuman said. “Not cotton — wool. With slim sleeves.”
Mr. Schuman said he owns very stylish pajamas that he does not, in fact, wear to bed, but slips them on before making his morning espresso. “When I get up, I like to put on some nice pajamas, have my coffee on the terrace and spend time looking at photo books to set my eye for the day,” he said. “It’s like having a little Fred Astaire moment before I go to the gym.”
Igee Okafor, an influencer and lifestyle blogger, covets a tuxedo. Make that another tuxedo; he already owns 15 or 20, he said. Mr. Okafor, encountered at an experimental perfume-making seminar hosted by Gian Luca Perris — the chief executive of Santa Maria Novella, the Florentine apothecary founded in 1221 (you read that right) — said he was weary of casual pandemic dressing.
“I have tuxedos in patterned fabric and different colors, but suddenly what I want is a really classic black, or maybe a navy, tuxedo,” he said. And why wait for the Met gala or the Oscars to shine? “I’d like to see it used for less formal occasions,” he said. “I’d love to have that normalized.”
Obsession is nothing remotely new for Nick Sullivan, the creative director at Esquire and a man with encyclopedic knowledge of the history and minutiae of men’s wear and its curious byways. (Likely, he is the only editor following the circuit who makes and repairs his own leather satchels. Have awl, will travel.)
“What I’m obsessing about now is pea coats,” Mr. Sullivan said on a chilly Paris evening, as he stood with a shivering group of editors in the cobbled courtyard of a mansion on the Place Vendôme awaiting entry to the Grace Wales Bonner show. “There’s something economical and swaggery about a six-button wool pea coat that reminds me of Robert Redford in ‘Three Days of the Condor.’”
Grizzled, with a tweed coat, a woolen skull cap and an omnipresent Marlboro Light dangling from his lips, Mr. Sullivan looked less the fop than like an old salt. “It’s almost a blazer,” he said of a short, heavy maritime weatherproof topcoat that tailors and designers alike have rendered in a thousand variations over the centuries. “But not quite.”