Menswear at RAFW

It was clear that from the declining numbers of menswear at RAFW that perhaps there sadly is no room in Australia for fashion forward menswear. Much like the distinct low profile of menswear in Australia that Kat George previously brought to our attention, the presence of menswear at RAFW was bordering on non existent.

Long gone are the days of menswear only collections (I think Frisoni Finetti in 2008 was probably the last) and thinning are those designers who cater to both the sexes. This year Romance Was Born and surprisingly Ksubi offered the male consumer a measly two and three looks respectively in their collections. Designers such as Saint Augustine Academy, who once upon a time were primarily a menswear label, showed that shifting the focus to womenswear in order to survive in the market is a necessary move.

Despite caving to the female consumer and a less than subtle sponsorship relationship, Saint Augustine Acedemy’s spring summer collection was the weeks strongest offering to the male market. TV show True Blood played as a central theme and a convenient sponsor for Sydney designer Alvin Manilo’s collection. Somewhere between skin heads references, gothic models and double denim looks, Saint Augustine Academy presented a collection of tailored shirts, slim line suits and striped polos that I could easily convince even my brother to favour over cheap chain store options. Bright red stained shirts along with vampy dinner jackets proved less brother-friendly but still incredibly exciting for a sartorially brave customer. The collection’s womenswear was appealing but it was the menswear and the unique design details that came with it that was the true star of the show.

Other strong contenders of the week were New Zealand label Zambesi and Fernando Frissoni. At Zembesi’s Children of the Corn show, school boy classics such as pleated shorts, pin stripe pants, sporting bomber jackets, checked short sleeve shirts and waist coats were modernised in cut to compliment an existing wardrobe.

Fernando Frissoni’s relaxed tailoring and tone on tone layers made for a strong vision at RAFW. The laid back wrapped shirt around the waist style was present at Frissoni as well as Stolen Girlfriend’s club. The street label channelled a surfing apocalypse theme offering guys seventies geometric patterns on shirts and baggy track pants, as well as loosely fit jackets and shorts for those delicious boys that have never out grown their skate board and backwards cap.

Minus these favourites other menswear collections failed to move on from the relaxed zen-like ideals that have been associated with Australia designer menswear over the past few years. How long can the man leggings last? Both Lui Hon and Kirrily Johnston seem to think the relax draped pant has a few more seasons left in the tank. Lui Hon teamed the ‘megging’ with neutral draped tees and raw leather while Johnston gave the relaxed style a buzz of colour with graphic prints in bright red.