Buyers on Milan, Soft Tailoring, Craftsmanship, Shorts – WWD

MILAN — Retailers are just like us — they like to be entertained, and Prada’s surprising slime wall elicited excitement and surprise, and was deemed one of the best presentation concepts of Milan Men’s Fashion Week, which closed Monday.

Prada’s collection itself was hailed as a success, as were Valentino, Zegna, Brunello Cucinelli and Giorgio Armani. Magliano and LVMH Prize winner Satoshi Kuwata’s Setchu were cited as among the best emerging brands.

Milan’s spring collections have “shown how tailoring can continue to reinvent itself, whether it’s Prada’s transformative takes on shirting or Alessandro Sartori’s modular, futuristic vision for suits at Zegna,” said Jian DeLeon, men’s fashion director at Nordstrom. “The idea of ‘dressing up’ is more fun than ever.”

Chris Kyvetos, menswear buying director at Mytheresa, said it was “overall a great season of Milano Moda Uomo; there was a very positive energy around,” a comment echoed by his peers, who applauded the trends for next season, including the finely executed craftsmanship and ongoing evolution of soft tailoring. Shorts were ubiquitous, and head-to-toe monochromatic looks, fluid and relaxed silhouettes, exaggerated shoulders, safari jackets and silk shirts were seen as directional.

The Prada men's spring 2024 show at Milan Fashion Week.

The Prada men’s spring 2024 show at Milan Fashion Week.

Courtesy of Prada

Here, a look at what the buyers had to say about the Milan men’s shows.

Bruce Pask, senior men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus

Favorite collections: Prada’s dramatically cinched, midcentury evoking, strong shoulder silhouette, high-waisted flared shorts, and ornately embellished shirts made for a powerful and invigorating show. Pierpaolo Piccioli’s elevated, poetic Valentino collection featuring couture-like tailoring and intricate floral embellishments in monochromatic looks of white and black with jolts of vivid color was imminently collectible. Brunello Cucinelli, recent recipient of the Neiman Marcus Award, presented one of his most memorable collections to date, accenting his signature tailoring and luxe sportswear with paisley patterns, pastels, and vintage-style knit polos, all styled in a beautifully cinematic way. Brioni’s stealth soft tailoring and relaxed evening wear had a winning easy elegance. LVMH Prize winner Satoshi Kuwata’s Setchu genderless wardrobe was beautifully precise, incorporating origami technique with his Savile Row training. 

Best presentation concept: The waterfalls of viscous fluid that poured from the industrial metal grid ceiling at the start of the Prada show was both surprising and thrilling, creating an electric atmosphere for a terrific collection. Brioni’s penthouse garden presentation with 360-degree bird’s eye views of Milan was a stunning setting for the brand’s relaxed, elegant tailoring, sportswear, and louche evening wear worn by wooden mannequins that seemed almost lifelike, engaged in thoughtful interaction. A monumental earthwork-style installation of 192 round stacked bales of raw linen curved around the perimeter of Piazza San Fedele to create the runway for Zegna’s show. The bales will ultimately be crafted into the brand’s Oasi Lino garments that will be 100 percent traceable by 2024. 

Trendspotting: There was an overwhelming focus on craftsmanship and artistry with intricate couture-like embellishment, especially florals, seen in many runway collections. Monochromatic looks in ivory and cream and chalky, soft pastels, especially pinks, gave a seasonal freshness to collections. Linen, always a warm weather favorite, was prevalent, especially in blends that added durability. Vintage-style knit polos looked especially good when styled with relaxed tailoring. Suede blousons and safari-style jackets in pale sandy tones were great transitional outerwear pieces. Penny loafers have been the statement-making shoe of choice for both casual and dressed-up looks. 

Must-have item: The penny loafer is certainly the shoe of the season and there was a bounty to choose from; a Johnny collar knit polo, especially in a pastel tone; a lightweight linen jacket in cream or ivory, bonus if it’s double-breasted and worn unbuttoned; a pair of tailored shorts, you choose your preferred length.  

General comment on the season: What an elegant, elevated menswear season in Milan! The designer runway shows have been inspiring and exciting with great focus on detail and craftsmanship while the tailored and luxury sportswear brands so synonymous with Italian men’s fashion had an ease and relaxed but dressed-up style that was incredibly appealing and very relatable. We saw plenty that will certainly excite our Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman luxury customers.

Raphael Deray, buyer of men’s ready-to-wear luxury and designers, retail and e-commerce at Printemps

Favorite collections: My favorite collection was undoubtedly Andersson Bell. I have been working with the brand for a few seasons now and as it’s one of my personal favorites I was very happy to see them take it to the next stage with their first show. It was a great presentation of hybrid clothing, both poetic and playful. Prada was also amazing; I really liked the tailoring with those broad shoulders accentuated by high-waist bottoms and extra-long sleeves. It was perfectly mixed with some outdoor elements (multi-pockets, cargo bags, technical jackets, and fishing vest) that gave a sense of modernity and casualness to the tailoring. Our Legacy also released their look book and the work on the styling is truly exceptional. It’s for me the definition of the modern punk through a modular wardrobe that is also timeless and seasonless.

Best presentation concept: It is difficult not to say Prada. The steel set was simply amazing and a great continuity of the fall 2023 men’s collection that introduced the steel theme for bags and accessories. The slime coming down the ceiling was the cherry on top as you can tell by the round of applause when it started. 

Trendspotting: Shorts were a key element of this season (no matter the length) and represented a quite big share of the looks, especially for some brands such as Prada, Valentino, among others. There were also a lot of floral elements expressed through embroideries and prints as well as small detailing, seen at Prada, Valentino, JordanLuca, Dolce & Gabbana, Andersson Bell, Etro, and more. Flat shoes and handbags were also ubiquitous to almost every show during Milan Fashion Week. 

Must-have item: A cool black short that can go with anything. My personal favorite was the one from the JW Anderson show, look 39, a little twist that will make you look cool even with a simple white T. 

Budgets: Menswear is still growing fast for us and in particular on the high-end segment so budgets are up.

General comment on the season: As I was saying above, menswear is growing and becoming a focal point for many brands and businesses, so the energy was definitely there. However, it won’t be a season that will stay in the fashion history books but a nice continuity of what has been going on for the last few seasons with gender-neutral [clothing], tailoring taking over the casual and streetwear aesthetics, simple and fluid silhouettes. 

Valentino Mens Spring 2024

Valentino mens spring 2024

Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

Jian DeLeon, men’s fashion director at Nordstrom

Favorite collections: We saw strong collections from JW Anderson, Zegna, Prada, Massimo Alba and Valentino.

Best presentation concept: Zegna brought several bales of linen imported from Normandy and used them as the backdrop of their show at the Palazzo Marino, the same material that would comprise much of the lightweight, innovative tailoring in their latest collection.

Trendspotting: I saw a lot of kerchiefs on men this season and plenty of white tailoring options in crisp cotton and breathable linen.

Must-have item: The colorful selection of square-toed patent leather slip-on loafers from Prada.

Chris Kyvetos, menswear buying director at Mytheresa

Favorite collections: We particularly liked their new tailoring proposal, with jackets tucked in pants and shorts. Denim jeans paired with functional multipocket vests, oversized shirts and printed “floral” shirts were just a few of our highlights from the Prada show. The Valentino maison presented a strong color palette, ranging from all-white looks to pink, red, gray, brown and even floral prints. We especially liked the boxy blazers, the pants getting shorter and the amazing, embroidered flowers as final touches of jackets and shirts. At Zegna we’ve seen the chicest fluid silhouettes in natural tones. Linen and leather were the key fabrics, and we also really liked the sunglasses.

Best presentation concept: To present its spring 2024 men’s collection, Gucci hosted an exhibition of 10 artists who reinterpret the iconic horsebit loafer. The presentation in Ralph Lauren’s palazzo in Milan was an American iteration of the quiet luxury trend.

Trendspotting: Quiet luxury will remain a strong trend for the next seasons. To name just a few other trends we’ve spotted in Milan: fluid silhouettes, white tailoring, collarless blazers, and trench coats. Loafers will be strictly worn with socks, and the hero colors for the season will be white, brown, and gray.

Must-have item: A floral shirt from Valentino, a Richard Gere suit from Armani, and a multipocket vest to style with tailored shorts from Prada.

General comment on the season: This was overall a great season of Milano Moda Uomo, there was a very positive energy around. It was great to have Valentino back in Milan with a menswear fashion show. We’ve also attended many beautiful presentations, both in terms of collections and locations. The elevated products and the great color palette made us already long for next summer.

Justin Berkowitz, men’s fashion director at Bloomingdale’s

Favorite collections: Giorgio Armani, Zegna, Prada and Valentino.

Best presentation concept: Two highlights on opposite ends of the spectrum: the flawlessly executed hospitality at the sumptuous palazzo of Ralph Lauren was an excellent treat in the midst of a jammed day of back-to-back appointments. You could feel the collective sigh of relief as attendees found their way to the misted interior courtyard. Conversely, once you got past the momentary ick factor, the slime walls at Prada were visually compelling and great viral fodder.

Trendspotting: More takes on soft tailoring — whether classically rendered at Giorgio Armani or Brunello Cucinelli, modern and stripped back at Zegna, or ironically updated via shirt construction jackets with a removable shoulder pad at Prada — are a continued message in Milan and will be fantastic for the Bloomingdale’s customer. Likewise, workwear ideas via chore coats and overshirts (Valentino, Zegna) and utility and cargo (Prada, Dolce & Gabbana) have resonated this week. One more specific idea that resonated this week in Milan is male sex appeal — a slash of skin, a touch of transparency, a shorter short, or a thin knit showing off the arm. And lastly — craft, specifically via couture-level use of appliqué, embroidery, and finely rendered embellishment — was an interesting through line this season, from Valentino to Dolce to Prada.

Must-have item: There were some fantastic looking totes this week; Prada had one of the best. I am personally coveting the fantastic green helmet bag from the Valentino x Porter collaboration.

Giorgio Armani Men’s Spring 2024

Giorgio Armani men’s spring 2024

Vanni Bassetti/WWD

Simon Longland, director of buying, fashion at Harrods

Favorite collections: This week we saw another exceptional and beautiful collection from Alessandro Sartori. The Zegna code is the definition of a modern, elegant, sophisticated, and luxurious approach to dressing today’s man. Taking the quiet luxury movement to a timeless and totally modern level; the rich fabrication and refined color palette meant the collection is full of pieces to have for now, and for many, many seasons to come. The first stand-alone Valentino men’s show since January 2020 was a celebration of elegant simplicity. The collection was dominated by two main themes, the first being the apparent simplicity of the looks. However, on closer inspection, many of the pieces were more complex and more detailed, which only made the collection compelling and desirable. The second was the use of just one color per look: the majorly monochrome pallet used accents of bold brights and some softer neutrals, but black and white were the strength and best suited the pared-back collection. It was exciting to see a full Valentino menswear show again and I’m eager to see this redefining moment ripple into stores.

Best presentation concept: Brioni’s 29th-floor penthouse with 360-degree terrace looking over all of Milan and beyond to the mountains — even with that the beauty of the collection was undeniable.

Trendspotting: Head-to-toe one-color dressing was present in almost every collection this season, in the most pared-back, elegant and simplistic fashion. Collections full of entirely black, white and creamy fudge looks dominated Milan and I’m eager to see how this trend continues as we head to Paris. Wide trousers or short shorts were a key item across the week, and we saw this trend play out in both a tailored silhouette from Prada and something more relaxed and fluid like we saw from JW Anderson. Gone are the slim silhouettes for summer. T-shirts in super-luxe fabrics and boxy silhouettes — whether that be JW Anderson’s rugby polos to sheer fabrications at Dolce — T-shirts are the ultimate dress-up or -down piece for next summer. It’s no surprise that we saw tailoring coming through with such strength again this season, as we have seen reign supreme over recent years, particularly in Milan. From Giorgio Armani to Valentino and Zegna, summer suiting is upon us and no matter the occasion or location, we saw every option. 

Must-have item: A super luxe T-shirt, in whatever fabrication, or monochromatic color you prefer, and a full white or full black tailored jacket and shorts.

General comment on the season: Mirroring the move toward a more elegant, timeless way of dressing we have seen from our customers recently, quiet luxury dominated from start to finish. Whether from luxury sartorial experts or fashion powerhouses the color palette was largely subdued, and print made only brief appearances. Milan certainly catered to a more grown-up, mature way of dressing.

Brioni Men’s Spring 2024 presentation

Brioni men’s spring 2024 presentation.

Courtesy of Brioni

Joseph Tang, fashion director, Holt Renfrew

Favorite collections: Alessandro Sartori of Zegna continues to define the new silhouette and workwear pieces for men. The Oasi Linen showcased impeccable innovations and designs. Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino reflected a new vision of masculinity with a collection that established codes of self-expression and cultured voices. Prada’s fantastical collection spoke to shape and silhouette. Exaggerated shoulders and elongated sleeves showcased the importance of shape and silhouette. 

Best presentation concept: Brunello Cucinelli always delivers an immersive and lively presentation experience. Other notable presentations were Gucci’s 70th anniversary of the horsebit loafer and Tod’s shoe making spectacle at Villa Necchi. 

Trendspotting: Rain or shine we are inspired by the elegance and nonchalant ease that the Italian fashion houses have presented over the past week. The spring 2024 season will center around a loose and relaxed silhouette with touches of fluid dressing with silk shirts and crafted lace insets and embroideries that were all over the runways. Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, and Etro all showed an offering of Timothée Chalamet-inspired looks. We look to Brunello Cucinelli, Zegna, and Canali for their light linens and sun-bleached colored jackets and suits. 

Must-have item: Valentino’s accessory collaboration with Mr Porter. Prada’s distressed spring leathers and elongated sleeved shirts. Etro’s knit intarsia sweaters; Tod’s suede, ruched loafers; Zegna’s two-piece short suit. 

General comment on the season: There was a fresh perspective on the men’s collections this season. We saw a wave of fresh talent with Magliano and Setchu showcasing their collections weeks after the LVMH Prize announcement. We’re seeing a resurgence in men’s apparel toggling between street and outdoor technical influences with the elegance and sophistication of traditional sartorial sportswear. It’s an exciting time to be able to offer the men’s customer something new to update his wardrobe with.  

Federica Montelli, head of fashion, Rinascente

Favorite collections: Prada, Zegna, Valentino, Giorgio Armani, Etro, Kiton, Magliano, MSGM.

Best presentation concept: Prada’s steel box with a “surprise” slime waterfall was a great contrast to the sharp gray and blacks of the first tailoring looks. A special mention for Federico Cina: With the show named “Terra” the designer sent a message of love to his region Emilia-Romagna, recently hit by the floods. Models walked on carpet made out of soil, covered in soil themselves, representing the relationship between man and nature.

Trendspotting: The tension toward a “quiet luxury” rises clear from the catwalks, with a renewed tailoring playing mainly on fluidity and the tactile aspect of materials (from fluid silk and wool blends to linen). Clean shapes and forms in the tailoring can be seen among powerhouses like Valentino, Prada, Zegna as well as among the more urban brands like MSGM. Magliano’s sartorial-meets-workwear is marking well the evolution of the men’s look for the younger generations. Across virtually all collections we saw neutrals emerging as the key shades, from sand to all whites, in head-to-toe looks. 

Must-have items: Anything from Prada, starting from suits made of slim-fitted blazers (a sort of crossover between a blazer and a pin-tucked shirt, which I loved) to multipocket utility vests, to tailored shorts. Shorts were in fact a must-have item in all collections, and Valentino did it best with its wide tailored Bermudas. All-denim ensembles, both as minimal sets (as seen at Prada) in deep-dyed washes or over-bleached (i.e. Valentino).  Zegna’s linen “earthy” colored sets are a must-have look for the Milanese men of spring 2024.

General comment on the season: Milan’s general aesthetic is moving toward classicism, which is what Made in Italy does best, but eyeing innovation and a younger clientele, with a certain fluidity of shapes and materials and a genderless approach in mind. The new generation of Milanese designers appears strong, with LVMH Prize Setchu and Magliano at the helm, or emerging brands like Marcello Pipitone gaining consensus.

Magliano Men's Spring 2024

Magliano men’s spring 2024

Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

Reginald Christian, men’s fashion market manager at Saks

General comment on the season: The spring/summer 2024 collections took us on a wave of new and familiar perspectives that clearly showed that function and self-style are essential. At its best, the Milan men’s shows presented garments that declared a love for materials and an enthusiasm for details.  

Favorite collections:  At Prada, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons presented an exceptional collection that mixed clothing with fluid architecture. Simple sportswear was transformed into paradoxical garments that pushed forward the evolution of clothing, best seen with utilitarian Hawaiian tuxedo shirts and denim shirts with lapel collars. Brunello Cucinelli presented a collection that continued his commitment to elegance with an impressively balanced lineup of modern tailoring, lightweight fabrics and soft silhouettes, seen in their offering of tangible double-breasted blazers, pleated linen trousers and a range of shirting in refined patterns.  Silvia Venturini Fendi invited us inside of her Tuscany factory to experience a Fendi collection that represented utilitarian sophistication and remarkable craftsmanship with silhouettes that played with proportions, fluid tailoring, relaxed trousers, elevated overshirts and refreshing shapes and texture for the season. Kiton showcased a stylish, sophisticated collection with super-lightweight cashmere and linen polos, jacquard jackets and effortlessly casual yet refined tailoring. 

Artistic director Alessandro Sartori’s collection for Zegna was perfectly fluid and beautifully represented an efficient wardrobe, with transitional garments such as crisp linen shirts, paper-thin leather jackets and relaxed trousers in a seasonally warm color palette of peach, eucalyptus and cream shades could be easily mixed and styled. Giorgio Armani’s collection was inspired by the ever-evolving fashion dialogue. The Armani house codes were delivered in refreshing, elegant silhouettes with a range of sartorial style and strength seen in the lightweight field jackets, textured knitwear and crisp tonal looks. 

Best presentation concept: Gucci’s presentation was a celebration of the horsebit loafer that took us on an incredible journey through the history of this iconic footwear staple and its timeless relevance.  Brunello Cucinelli exported us to a glamorous Hollywood-themed set that brilliantly supported the elegant garments. Kiton’s celebration of the spring/summer season was an exciting reminder of the beauty of fashion, combining style, food and excitement.  At Canali, the models moved gently across the stage, bringing their modern tailoring designs to life and allowing guests to take in the latest collection. 

Trendspotting: Workwear was a significant influence on the spring/summer collections, with many designers offering their own luxurious interpretations on the trend. Travel-ready clothing was another important trend that was seen in everything from tailoring to lightweight fabrics like linen and silk blends. Footwear and accessories were impressively complimentary to the wardrobe this season, lead by drivers, loafers, minimalist sandals and oversized totes.

Must-have items: The patent leather, square toe lace-up derbies from Prada, the crisp white overshirt and green floral overshirt and shorts from Valentino and the large popcorn basket tote from JW Anderson.

Riccardo Tortato, head of buying departments and men’s fashion director at Tsum, Moscow and DLT, St. Petersburg

Favorite collections: Dolce & Gabbana, Zegna.

Best presentation concept: Valentino.

Trendspotting: Suits with comfortable shoulder and loose pants. Light colors. A new formal.

Must-have item: A beige linen suit and formal shorts.

General comment on the season: I was really positively impressed by the quality of the collections presented and by the general style trend. Milan Fashion Week was really sophisticated: street style is completely over and you see the desire to have a men’s style that is more chic and elegant. [There’s] a new way to wear a suit in the evening, from Brunello Cucinelli for an aperitivo to the new style of Zegna by Alessandro Sartori, passing through the new elegance of Dolce & Gabbana. If you want to be more classic, more modern or more fashionable, you must dress up. The color palette at Kiton identified a modern gentlemen that wears a suit in a more comfortable way but still with a lot of elegance. We find the same classic extravaganza in the new Santoni collection, because we will not wear sneakers anymore but even the shoes will have to be more sophisticated.

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