For the first time since January 2020, the fashion world is truly looking toward — and gearing up for — a post-COVID world.
At least that was the feeling at the recently wrapped Spring 2022 Men’s Fashion Week shows. The Fall 2021 collections that were shown in January and are currently hitting retailers were still influenced by the pandemic, albeit in a more subtle way, with neck coverings replacing face coverings and athleisure staples, like leggings, reimagined through a fashion-forward lens. The palpable influence at the Spring 2022 collections was celebratory in nature: everyone was heading to the ocean for their shows and lookbooks, with brands showing on the London, Milan and Paris calendars alike making the trek to the coast. The clothes shed the hallmarks of pandemic life — there was little in the way of masks and face coverings — and were crafted instead for the vaccine-induced freedoms and the kind of life we might expect to enjoy come next year.
On that note, a number of designers appeared to hint that these would be the last of their fully digital shows, eager to get back to in-person runway presentations rather than prerecorded films and lookbooks.
All things considered, that’s the biggest trend for Spring 2022: the fashion world is ready to celebrate — whether that’s via a beach vacation setting, by getting us to have fun wearing our clothes, or by putting on elaborate in-person shows again.
To that, you can add these five trends for Spring 2022.
The Canadian tuxedo goes international
So much for the demise of denim.
Despite claims that people would never pull on another pair of jeans after 15 months of soft, comfortable clothes, designers doubled down on denim during the Spring 2022 shows, with the rest of the world finally coming around to the infamous Canadian tuxedo.
The first hint came before the shows even began, when WWD first reported that Dior and Sacai were teaming up for a co-branded capsule collection for Spring 2022.
At London’s digital-only “shows,” Ahluwalia presented beautifully crafted denim separates that could easily be worn together, while Per Götesson put denim at the fore while launching an e-commerce platform.
In Milan, luxury tailoring purveyor Brioni showed a lightweight denim popover with matching trousers — not quite jeans — and jacket. On the other end of the spectrum, upstart label Magliano showed a very punk collection that featured a lot of denim, including a denim shirt worn with denim overalls in a slightly darker shade of indigo. Los Angeles-based FourTwoFour on Fairfax’s (very) short film put a handful of high-end workwear-inspired pieces on display, including a full denim look.
From Paris, Wales Bonner showed an all-denim mandarin-collar work jacket and flight-pant combination in what appeared to be raw denim, with classic copper contrast stitching used to outline the set’s myriad pockets. As part of an early-2000s-inspired collection, Études showed mismatched denim sets, opening with a bright blue trucker jacket and classic faded jeans. Angelo Urrutia’s celebrated 4SDesigns showed both a chambray jumpsuit and a chambray overshirt with faded denim shorts.
Neon pink and green might have jumped out, but they weren’t the most notable colours on show. The prevalence of denim underscored that blue was, by and large, the colour on display at the Spring 2022 shows.
Almost every collection from Milan’s traditional heavy hitters featured a strong use of blue. At Missoni, indigo featured prominently on knits, accessories, tailoring and outerwear in a tightly curated collection. A very relaxed Ermenegildo Zegna lineup featured sky-blue jumpsuits, camp-collar shirts, trousers and coats, and then later on, rich navy work jackets, noragis and T-shirts. Giorgio Armani — also showing a very relaxed collection — showed classic navy suits, light chambray trousers, steel-blue silk and satin detailing, indigo shirts and vests, and midnight blue jackets.
In Paris, it was Hed Mayner and Louis Vuitton that used blue most inventively to break up their collections. Hed Mayner’s Spring 2022 collection featured the designer’s signature billowing silhouettes and relied almost exclusively on earth tones until Look 18, when a pair of wide-legged blue trousers provided an aesthetic jolt. More blue was sprinkled into the last third of the show, culminating with a bright blue jumpsuit. At Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh’s rave-inspired collection featured a number of all-blue looks; the juxtaposition with muted shades of beige and electric greens showed the colour’s ability to be both statement-making and calming. Add to that Scottish and Finnish flags interspersed throughout and the final protagonist in the short film (played by British musician Goldie) clad in blue, and there was no doubt that Abloh saw the colour as integral to his collection.
Burberry’s Riccardo Tisci had perhaps the best explanation for blue’s outsized presence, as relayed by Vogue, pointing out that the blue sky was “the only thing we’ve been able to watch” over the last 15 months.
Chop it or crop it
What started in London with bits of bared midriff, courtesy of Paolo Carzana, eventually became a broader cropped movement, with designers eschewing sleeves, the bottom half of jackets and even the upper third of tops.
Showing from its headquarters in Rome, Fendi offered a series of cropped tops, ranging from a T-shirt (worn under an unfastened suit jacket) to technical outerwear to a pair of cropped blazers. Also on the Milan schedule, Danish brand Han Kjøbenhavn doubled down on the crop, with leather jackets that featured midsection cut-outs, pleated shirts that didn’t quite reach the waistband of matching trousers, and a cropped graphic T-shirt layered over a button-up shirt.
At Prada, things were less obvious. Presented from the Sardinian coast, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons showed a curious collection (more on that in a minute) filled with turtlenecks that were cropped off beyond the shoulders and below the chest. That was served up with a series of knits and tops that featured an inverse crop, revealing the collarbone and upper chest, with firm straight lines.
In Paris, Riccardo Tisci opted for a similar inverse crop, chopping off the sleeves of Burberry’s iconic coats, but also a number of blazers, shirts, knits and leather pieces. Also of note were a series of coats presented toward the end of the show that fastened at the shoulders, doing away with the yoke — another inventive inverse crop. Rick Owens, too, did away with sleeves on a number of jackets, but left enough frayed detailing on the shoulders to hint at a literal cutting-room cropping.
And often, if the sleeves and midsections were in place, it was the pants that weren’t, replaced instead with plenty of short suits, from Dior to Ernest W. Baker. Sometimes less is more.
Shouldering the load
Speaking of Owens and his Spring 2022 shoulders — which were heavily padded and angular, with the yoke even slanting upward at times — they fit in well with what a number of designers offered in their collections: strong shoulders.
Also in Paris, at Dior, Kim Jones opted for a slightly more delicate hand and offered less padding and protrusion, but lines that were so sharp they ought to come with a warning when they hit retailers next spring. Yohji Yamamoto’s collection was a touch dystopian and rough around the edges — as it usually is — with soft, draping fabrics. But even he put an emphasis on the shoulder, using epaulets on a number of jackets. The same was true for fellow Japanese label Maison Mihara Yasuhiro, which presented a range of oversized pieces with ostensibly soft shoulders made to look particularly strong thanks to epaulets, razor-sharp cut-offs or their sheer size.
Presented before the season’s shows even kicked off against a Photoshop-inspired checkered backdrop, Vetements’ Spring 2022 collection featured shoulders that were almost comically square — on jackets, sweaters and sleeveless options alike.
Seasonality is so last season
These were, supposedly, the Spring and Summer collections, but with what was on display at some shows, you’d have thought these were cold weather wares.
Nowhere was that more obvious than at Louis Vuitton, where models were decked out in down-filled parkas, imposing furs, earmuffs and even leather hockey gloves. The curiosity of the Prada collection was born from the aforementioned neck warmers and knits, which, combined with leather jackets and cardigans, gave the impression of a much colder climate than that of the Sardinian beach where the show was set. Erdem Moralioglu, the Canadian-raised designer, launched a menswear counterpart to his celebrated womenswear line with chunky knits, turtlenecks and wool tailoring.
Elsewhere, one of the most commonly spotted pieces was the heavily underrated cardigan, with the vast majority being robust and warm knits, like the beautiful, marled ones shown by Jun Takahashi’s Undercover and those that appeared on the Hermès runway.
There are a few explanations: perhaps the fashion industry has discovered that half of the world enjoys its fall and winter when Europe is in spring and summer or perhaps we’re closer to doing away with endless gendered and seasonal fashion shows, preferring, instead, an overarching look at a brand’s year to come — or maybe we’ve come to grips with the fact that people are willing to delay instant gratification and splurge now on a piece they love but will only wear later.
Marc Richardson is a Montreal-based writer and photographer. His work focuses on fashion, culture and the intersection between the two. He’s spent the better part of the last decade observing and cataloguing menswear from New York and London to Florence and Paris. You can follow him on Twitter @quicklongread and on Instagram @shooting.people.