It’s 2017, and the industry is readily tossing aside the old rules of fashion — for proof, see the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, which awarded unisex brand Telfar its top honor this year. Where women once used to have all the fun, the menswear market is now a playground of imagination and change. Here are the five designers redefining menswear for the runway and for real life.
Victor Barragán, 25, Mexico City and New York City
In the past year, Mexican-born, New York City-based Victor Barragán has gone from an underground fashion designer quietly making T-shirts and hoodies to an industry-anointed up-and-coming talent. Combining delicate shapes with an understated strength, his gender-neutral designs push the barriers of men’s fashion. “Gender is just not part of my creative process,” the 25-year-old explains. “I design for whoever appreciates the rebellion in my clothes.”
Gosha Rubchinskiy, 33, Moscow
One of the fashion world’s most elusive (and consequently, sought-after) designers, 33-year-old Gosha Rubchinskiy incorporates photography, film and fashion into a brand celebrating post-Soviet youth. Born in Moscow, the designer uses Russian subcultures as inspiration for his eponymous streetwear label. Juxtaposing the spirit of ’90s raves and urban skate culture with a minimalist aesthetic, Rubchinskiy reinterprets streetwear as political high fashion. And even though his work has drawn comparisons to other fashion darlings, such as Calvin Klein’s Raf Simons and Vetements’ Demna Gvasalia, Rubchinskiy’s mashup of earnestness and irony gives his designs their own distinct look. “I never want to be Supreme, I never want to be Palace, I want to be Gosha,” he told the Financial Times. “People say Gosha is the next Raf, Gosha is the next Supreme. No. Gosha is Gosha.”
“Phlemuns” James Flemons, 28, Los Angeles
By repurposing existing ’70s-style denim, Los Angeles brand PHLEMUNS brings a sustainable edge to our favorite lived-in jeans. Founder James Flemons aims to celebrate the diversity of the black male experience with his pieces — although it’s no surprise they’re favored by his female fans, who include Rihanna (RiRi and her dancers and orchestra rocked the brand at last year’s VMAs). Still, “there are so many misguided conceptions about black masculinity,” he says. “But just like any other person of any race or gender, we’re complex and layered people with different ideas of what it means to be a man.” He continues: “With my clothes, I always look for a way to embrace that identity, and let people know that it’s OK to be whatever you want.”
Barbara Sanchez-Kane, 29, Mexico City
Mexico City native Barbara Sanchez-Kane handcrafts clothes for the “sentimental macho man.” With her eponymous line, the designer tailors looks with a radical edge, fusing traditional Mexican iconography with boundary-bending silhouettes. At her New York Fashion Week debut this fall — one of the season’s most lauded presentations — she sent male models in deconstructed suits and sheer bell-bottoms down the runway, thrilling her fearless customers. “They wear what they want, no matter who they are,” says the designer.
“Palomo Spain”, Alejandro Gómez Palomo, 25, Córdoba, Spain
Although Palomo Spain is a menswear line, it was none other than Beyoncé who first drew mainstream attention to the brand. Bey wore the label’s delicate lilac silk organza robe for her twins’ iconic birth reveal on Instagram in July, which has garnered more than 10 million likes to date. The man behind the frills, 25-year-old Alejandro Gómez Palomo, is shaking up the industry with his unconventional approach to menswear: He cuts layered gowns and structured suits in romantic fabrics. “I crave for the idea of men being able to wear the same beautiful embroideries, volumes and materials women wear all the time,” he told Metal Magazine. “Just like a woman can wear ‘manly’ suits, pants or garments that are traditionally applied to men, men should also be able to make their fantasies come true through fashion.”
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