There is a universal discrepancy between the top half of the body and bottom. Upstairs is your passport to Facebook likes, Tinder dates and, literally, entry into a different county; downstairs it’s quite a different story.
While your date might not hang around beyond the starter on account of your denim and dress shoes situation, no guard will ever stop you for choosing flipflops at the airport, such is the unimportance awarded south of the waist (in the latter instance, a good thing).
This case is further asserted across the fashion industry. The silhouette of a flat shot shirt/jacket/jumper is far commonly more pleasing a visual than an awkward trouser leg, while a motif-laden sweater is a prominent Insta player on account of its sartorial accessibility.
Rare is the fashion show in which anyone past the second row can describe a trouser’s hem, as it strides past, with proper credibility. Hence the fantastic Isamaya French created Lego faces (probably) clocked more hashtags for Agi & Sam this season then the duo’s equally stimulating trouser selection; likewise the multitude of scarves at Burberry and Christopher Raeburn’s inflated backpacks.
As a season, Autumn Winter traditionally belongs to coats and jackets, and there was plenty to marvel at in that arena at London Collections: Men AW15 (all that shearling, those leathers, them collars…), but the term that most infiltrated Clash notebooks this season, was ‘strong trousers’.
At Topman Design, whose ‘Bombay City Rollers’ dubbed collection began proceedings proper, the aesthetic echoed Hedi Slimane’s nostalgic turn with a clear nod to the 1970’s; here trousers were pulled in tight at the groin, while Gordon Richardson’s team reclaimed the denim ankle swingers so favoured by Kings of Leon circa 2003.
Alex Mullins and Grace Wales Bonner – the former in his second NEWGEN season, the latter in her first Fashion East Menswear Installations – both played with flares in their (highlight of the season) presentations too. Mullins produced wide legs in denim and corduroy, while Wales Bonner adopted pinstripes and crushed velvet, again finishing above the ankle.
Elsewhere J.W. Anderson’s “free spirited thinker with an interest in pataphysics” wore a floor length trouser with an inner seam cut open to resemble a flared shape; the purple flooring provided a notable stage.
In contrast, several designers played with fabric to explore wide, billowing shapes, arriving at an aesthetic with roots in maharishi style snopants, skate shorts and izaars.
At MAN, newbie Rory Parnell Mooney presented 20 looks accompanied by huge swathes of black and navy fabric, while similarly Nicomede Talavera, returning for his second season, played with loose shapes.
Talavera paid particular attention to his guy’s legs, highlighting an early 00’s shape by partnering it with a bare chest, layering shorts over PVC trousers, and adding pleated ‘skirts’ to bold v-neck tops; his was a look inspired by “the layered clash of tradition and sportswear worn by Muslim boys from Hounslow.”
Craig Green, whose soundtrack – Wim Mertens followed by Michael Nyman’s ‘Wheelbarrow Walk’ – once again provided a grand sense of occasion, followed suit with a strong collection that married utility with martial arts uniforms.
Trousers (paired exclusively with socks) arrived in a multitude of fabrics, adorned with pockets, double waistbands and tie fastenings; others were less heavily armored.
Christopher Shannon’s SS14 man had his faux boxer waistband ripped out this season to resemble a masculine frill, as southwards his particular vision of ‘sportswear’ channeled 90’s era Mel C, with popper tracksuit bottoms undone, almost resembling a skirt; earlier looks saw legs bound by puffer ‘legwarmers’.
A third trouser shape, and perhaps the most widely adopted in contemporary menswear (thanks to its prominent connotations of youth), was the jogging bottom.
Immersing itself “inside a posthuman environment, merging the natural with the man-mad to create a world surrounded by contradictory aesthetics”, Cottweiler presented lightness, by way of fabric and palette.
Liam Hodges chose ‘Totally Safe Classics’ as the title of his second collection with MAN, producing classic jersey joggers, some adorned with “market trader money pouch details” (large pockets), others safely plain.
Meanwhile at Nasir Mazhar the shape was dressed up in PVC, brocade and mesh, doused in zips, panels and new season branding. Here trousers continued to play a prominent role, with many pieces dressed up as full looks thus increasing the sartorial impact a la a Savile Row suit.
So hardcore FROW advocate of the season Wiz Khalifa was recognisable from afar by his doodle clad jeans, so a man’s trousers are important, and this season London's menswear designers are all too aware.
Words: Zoe Whitfield