Global warming zeitgeist has made it to men’s fashion, if the runways of Milan are any measure. At shows during the last week of June, fashion executives and store buyers said next spring they are stocking slimmer, lighter suits made of high-performance fabrics that repel water and don’t wrinkle. Some can even rechargeyour iPod.
“The world is a lot warmer, so you need to buy a suit that you can wear 10 months out of the year,” said Colby McWilliams, men’s fashion director for Neiman Marcus Group Inc., based in Dallas. “What we’re seeing in the spring is the technology in the fabrics to make the suits more comfortable and low-maintenance.”
For the truly “green” conscious, Ermenegildo Zegna SpA, known for its luxury men’s suits, presented a sporty jacket with solar panels on the collar that can recharge a mobile phone or an iPod. The $750 (about Rs30,000) coat, something James Bond might be proud to wear, will be in stores in November.
“We haven’t solved the problem of global warming, but the solar jacket shows there are steps one can take in the right direction,” said Gildo Zegna, chief executive officer of Ermenegildo Zegna.
The solar panels detach and can be used independently. Five hours of sunshine can recharge just about any portable electronic device, Zegna said. Available as a bomber jacket or in longer styles, the coat was developed in partnership with Starnberg, Germany-based Interactive Wear AG, a maker of wearable electronics. It comes with adaptors for different devices.
“This is truly a solution for the guy on the run, who loves his gadgets and can always use a little extra ‘juice’, especially if it is ‘green’,” said Tom Kalenderian, general merchandise manager for men’s wear at Barney’s, the New York chain owned by Jones Apparel Group Inc.
On a more conventional note, Brioni Roman Style SpA showed cocktail jackets for evening, including one in silk stitched with real silver threads to be worn either with tuxedo pants or jeans. Brioni also presented a water-repellent wool trench coat that can be wadded up into a ball without wrinkling and an unlined jacket that packs like a shirt.
“Brioni was one of the first to do a lightweight silk jacket, which is easy to wear in the summer,” McWilliams said. “It’s the new smoking jacket, but not as formal.”
Light-gray tones and quality fabrics were key elements of Tom Ford’s collection, which will make its debut in five US stores of Neiman Marcus and London’s Harrod’s in February, the first time his $3,400 suits and made-to-measure variations will be available outside the former Gucci designer’s Madison Avenue boutique in New York.
The department stores are buying more from UK menswear label Bamford & Sons, including its line of organic clothing made from naturally grown cottons and ecological leathers, which are tanned with vegetable dyes.
“Back to nature is big,” said Tommy Fazio, men’s fashion director for Bergdorf Goodman, part of Neiman Marcus Group.