Sometimes menswear is just really fucking cool. Like, really cool. In a day and age when androgyny is not only accepted but well, encouraged, I couldn’t help but pine over many of the looks at the Urban Shape Shifters show on October 17, during the 2013 Chicago Fashion Focus. From side zipped vests, intricately fastned back packs, slouchy beanies, tattered tees and more, Urban Shape Shifters proved to live up to its name.
Showing underneath the cover of a stark white tent in Millenium Park, Urban Shape Shifters opened with designs from Gallery Aesthete, a Chicago based boutique that sells items from menswear cult favorites such as Commes Des Garcons, Rick Owens and the like.
The designs were typical of what every street style menswear blogger is sporting these days. However, this ended up actually being a good thing. Simplicity at its best, pieces from Gallery Aesthete stole the show (and continued to do so several times throughout the night) with their sleek lines, minimal color palette, mixed textures and subtle influence of current fashion trends. Perhaps there’s something to be said about well established names being more desirable, but I like to to think that the cohesion and the quality of the designs that were shown by Gallery Aesthete is what makes these looks so successful and so sartorially swoon worthy.
Following Gallery Aesthete was accessories by Jack Cave. Models dressed in metallic white body suits walked the runway and allowed show goers to concentrate strictly on the accessories draped across their bodies. The collection contained a variety of items including bags with intricate straps, belts and armbands with mixed metal, heavy scarves and hooded chains and seemed to focus on the multi purpose qualities that each piece possessed.
B:Scott, a Los Angeles favorite, also showed and followed many of the same popular trends as Gallery Aesthete. Sticking to a mostly black and white color palette, B:Scott stayed casual and relaxed while still being fashion forward. Beanies, tennis shoes, white T-shirts and simple layering pieces were the core of the collection. While none of these items none of the items were particularly enthralling, their wearability, which is something that trendy fashion often lacks, was respectable. Also, I’d totally wear every piece they showed.
The show lightened up towards the second half, as pieces from J. Cheikh took the runway mixing easter egg pastels and dark florals. The suiting appeared to be influenced by Miami Vice meets 80s prom as separates as a metallic finish covered many of the pants and thick pieces of bias tape lined the edges of lapels. The usage of color (as odd as the choices may have seemed), for this SS14 collection was well appreciated. As much as fashion loves black, especially right now, we can’t forget that spring/summer is a time of renewal and warmth, and color is sometimes a really good thing
Speaking of color…Street Sprung, which showed right before Gallery Aesthete closed out the fashion portion of the show, was obviously the wild card among the group. These eclectic designs may have seemed out of place when compared to the collections shown before, but the eccentric nature of them kept the hour long show fresh. Crazy neon prints, metallics, feathers, and mesh, particularly when used on the back of pants showing the models butt cheeks, are not for a man who wants to fit into the mainstream. Probably best left for going out, the SS14 Street Sprung collection is sure to make a statement.
Lastly, it’s probably really, really, important to mention that a circus performer took the stage several times between collections. Perhaps this was the shows feeble attempt at further capturing the “shape shifter” element of the name but, to be frank, it really missed the mark. Maybe it was because I had pulled an all nighter the previous night, or that I was running solely on four cups of coffee and had just taken a midterm exam but something about seeing a half dressed man swing a bowling ball from bear traps clipped to his fingers and ears just really didn’t sit well with me.
Now, I don’t want this to get misconstrued for me not liking circus performers, because, that would be completely inaccurate. In fact, I think they’re pretty awesome. However, while I enjoy a shocking approach to fashion and runway, when the element of shock takes away from the actual clothes being displayed then perhaps it’s best to refrain from shock all together.
ANYWAY, just a thought.
Check out more photos here of the Urban Shape Shifters show and let me know what you think in the comments below.