One of the first things that come to mind when you recall an era from the past is how people dressed at the time. Mere mention of the eighties immediately conjures up the oversized suits, funky mullets, and colorful workout threads that came to define the decade. The nineties, on the other hand, bring to mind baggy T-shirts, frosted tips, and grunge rock plaid, among other now-embarrassing sartorial choices. Fashion can speak so well of a point in time, or of a generation, that clothes become symbols, icons. So what will we remember 2016 for?
Certainly, with all the turns-for-the-worse that the world has taken throughout the past 12 months, we’d have no problem remembering politics and pop culture. But what of style? If, five or ten years hence, we were to look back at 2016, what clothes will define us? Now that the year is coming to a close, it’s a good time to take a look back at some of the menswear trends that hit it off with the every man in 2016.
If there’s one menswear trend that really exploded this year, it’s the souvenir jacket. It’s a shiny satin relic of the American post-war era, when American GIs would bring home embroidered jackets as souvenirs from the pacific theater of war. Late last year, souvenir jackets littered the runways of Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, and Saint Laurent for both Spring/Summer 2016 and Fall/Winter 2016, before being adapted by streetwear brands like Stussy and FUCT SSDD. It wouldn’t take long for fast-fashion labels like Zara, H&M, 21Men, and Bershka to pick up on it and release their own affordable variants, sealing in the souvenir jacket’s status as a 2016 menswear trend.
Relaxed Cropped Pants
One of the defining men’s style signatures of the past ten years is skinny jeans. It’s always been about that tight, fitted look—reaching peak skinny sometime in 2006 to 2008, before loosening up to slim and tapered. But in 2016, we might finally be getting a break from tight pants, as fashion comes to favor relaxed, high-waisted pants, cropped at the ankle. But make no mistake: we’ve certainly left the baggy jeans of the '90s and early 2000s far behind. This new looser-jean movement is still on the tapered side, and more calculated in its fit—just also a lot more comfortable on the thighs. Finally, we can give our balls some breathing room.
While this trend would never fly locally, it’s worth mentioning the sudden success of the shearling jacket, perhaps due in part to Stranger Things’ Jonathan Byers. In colder parts of the world, the wool-lined collars are more and more popular for Fall/Winter 2016, and they have Netflix’s cult classic to thank.
Regardless of your opinion on Vetements, the avant garde streetwear label that hit its peak in 2016, it challenged the ranks of high fashion and made its mark with overlarge proportions, broad structured shoulders, and strange graphics. One of its signatures in particular came to be adapted as a popular look: the long, Slenderman-esque sleeves. This trend hasn’t quite made its way to the closet of the everyman, but if it ever makes it past the exclusive rings of the streetwear set, we’ll look back and find its origins in 2016.
This is just about the most tito style move there is, but T-shirt tucking was cool again this year, mainly thanks to hip-hop artists like A$AP Rocky, fashion personalities like Virgil Abloh, and style-forward skaters.
As part of our collective move away from minimalism, many have taken to personalizing and decorating their denim jackets and jeans with patches, embroideries, and pins. One pioneering example of this is Gucci’s denim jeans, embroidered with a snake on the front right pocket. It’s loud and overtly decorative, which is precisely the point. Overdoing it is part of what makes it work: the messier and more scattered, the better.
The whole “real men wear pink” thing isn’t new—in fact, it’s a pretty tired and misinformed axiom that really wouldn’t fit in with the sensibilities of men today. However, the color itself has always been fairly wearable, and many were keen to prove it this year. Among them, Gucci and Raf Simons, who had pink in the runways of their 2016 collections; as well as hip-hop personalities like Tyler The Creator and Drake. Of course, it’s never a loud pink, inasmuch as it is a soft pastel shade—much more subtle, less in-your-face, and free of any ironic presumptions.
MA-1 Bomber Jacket
This one’s more of a 2014 to 2015 trend that refuses to die. Not that it should—the quintessential bomber jacket looks more awesome than ever, today. While the trend has been a while for some time, more and more brands continue to release their own MA-1s in different shapes and colors. This year, we’re seeing them streamlined, slimmer, less like the round silhouette that was popular last year. We wouldn’t be surprised if in the bigger picture, the MA-1 will come to define this decade in style.
Camp Collar Shirt
For a brief moment, sometime in 2012, Hawaiian shirts were cool, ironic fashion statements. They disappeared for a while before returning with a vengeance in 2016, now that camp collars (those slightly-open collars with no band) are in again. These beach vacation staples are now ample style statements for the city, and are the preferred laidback look of the likes of Harry Styles and Adam Levine.