Be Cool or Be Nothing: Men’s Spring 2022 Collections Ditched Heritage for Hype


In their 8-minute fashion film, Jil Sander creative director duo Lucie and Luke Meier captured models wandering in and out of a hotel room looking seriously hazed. The film’s rock music then mixed with an eerie sounding voice-over sharing some philosophical questions: “Here I was again, back where I started — how long had it been this time?” Another voice asked. “Days, weeks, months, years? Hard to say, time is different on the inside. It gets light, it gets dark, how many times?”

A quote that, apart from characterizing our post lockdown mentality, perfectly summed up the overall feeling left by this season’s menswear shows. It was a season that celebrated personal style and uniqueness by offering more freedom for experimentation with forms, shapes, cuts, and colors. Skirts? Check. Shorts? Check. Skorts? Check again

A quick look at fashion history would tell you nothing is new though. In fact, some of the biggest trends spotted on the runways were coming straight from the raving 90s, a decade that has been generating fashion interest for quite some time. For Burberry, Riccardo Tisci sends own the sanded runway models dancing to psych-trance music while wearing deconstructed trench coats and tribal-inspired tops.”So many of my memories forged through music take me back to an incredible time when I was discovering myself — my voice, my identity, my creativity –sharing my experiences with friends and sometimes even strangers along the way,” said Tisci in a pre show statement. “It was like being on a universal journey, brought together by a collective sense of openness, acceptance, and opportunity.”

Sounds great. Yet, it doesn’t sound Burberry. And that was I feel the unsung debate of the season; how much should we care for a brand’s DNA when most brands’ design direction cater to the same Gen Z clientele-and look seriouly alike? Does Burberry actually mean something to them? In fact,the street wear direction fashion has taken over the last years, has been an erasing mechanism of most historical brands’ core characteristics as they eagerly jumped on the coolness wagon. End result? Trendy homogeneity.

Kim Jones’s collection for Dior Men didn’t lack ‘coolness’ either. Created in collaboration with the hip-hop best-selling personage Travis Scott, it was everything Kim Jones knows to do well; sleek suiting, full trousers, tailored shorts with an essence of Navajo ornamenting as part of its Texas theme. Yet, you had to double-check to make sure it was Dior. Perhaps I am too old and actually remember what Dior Hommes actually looked like.

In the case of Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton, the erase of the brand’s actual heritage helped him to dive into appropriating street style and black music influences into a show aptly called “Amen Break”. The concept that it’s the accessories that sell like crazy is perhaps the closest the collection was to anything Louis Vuitton-related.

Coolness doesn’t have a past; it rather operates in a perennial future. In that sense, heritage brands seem to have taken a route that guarantees sales through doing what the others are also doing. Those street style-savvy aesthetics can be Dior, Louis Vuitton, Off –White, anything. Their past cultural references mean nothing to a generation of clients that are both very young to remember and very uninterested to learn.

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