Few other industries feature such cyclical nature as fashion: in most, innovation towards newer, higher performance products or services ultimately renders the previous obsolete. In the face of the latest release, previous models or designs are considered the last resort for those who can’t afford to update quickly enough, or at best, a coveted vintage item in the years to come. This is not to say R&D doesn’t play a critical role in the fashion industry, namely when it comes to unveiling higher performance raw materials, more effective and sustainable production processes, reducing waste, or treating fabrics for specific purposes. As one of the most attractive multi-billion dollar industries today, it would be preposterous to believe continuous innovation doesn’t take place.
However, Fashion does hold its share of intricacies that set it apart from the herd: the fact it’s intimately connected to self-expression and individuality makes it endlessly customizable and organically mutable, depending on a series of variables that impact social behavior and trends. As such, Fashion embodies a cyclical aspect where most “creations” are in fact reminiscent of past developments, upgraded to current standards, and at times, not even that (with vintage elements becoming more and more valued). Practical manifestations of this underlying nature can be found transversally throughout the latest men’s and women’s collections, with the former maintaining a more stable aspect than the latter.
On this note, I’d like to bring forth a current (for most) change in the menswear paradigm, which as usual, will only have repercussions within a small niche: the return of the wide-leg trouser. While it’s true some designer labels never let them go in the first place, namely on runways, this time around the change is taking place on a much larger scale – collections and prescriber’s opinions are actually pushing towards this change, with mass retailers such as Zara or H&M incorporating wide-leg trousers in their offerings. Paradoxically to the previous movement which embraced skinny and super skinny variants resulting in an uncanny compromise of both comfort and aesthetic, the time has finally come to opt for looser alternatives.
Trouser width and height have been some of the most controversial topics in recent menswear history, with purists being adamant in their defense of a 20/21cm bottom and break, while more fashion-forward counterparts advocating for 17/18cm bottoms, no break, and slimmer fit. As with most aspects of menswear, some factions remain virtually untouched by whatever changes take place, privileging a classic, timeless style that sits seamlessly in-between the conservative and avant-garde ends of the spectrum. While personally, I was never an enthusiast of skinny trousers, my go-to choice until 2 years ago was undoubtedly on the slimmer side, both on off-the-rack and bespoke options – however, a couple of vintage finds and a hefty dose of Japanese inspiration set me on a different path.
Now, even within the range of wide pants, there are several options to be considered: formal or casual, cuffs or no cuffs, carrot-shaped or even width throughout, etc. While “full” wide legs are now considered somewhat of a fashion statement, a smooth transition can be ensured by opting for in-between styles like the carrot – wider at the thigh and narrower at the ankle – my personal favorite. Granted that these variations are not the go-to choice for most men out there, it doesn’t hurt to keep an open mind and explore all your options.
Miguel Amaral Vieira