Just like the conventional mass media is losing traction due to fresh independent voices and the multitude of content, so do flagship fashion houses: they lost their relevance for the modern consumer who needs more than they can offer.

— What a beautiful suit!
— Thanks. I got it online just for 40 euros from some guys. They make them in India in small batches. They’re eco-friendly, too!
— Have you seen men’s fashion weeks recently?
— Yes, and it’s terrible. Are they even aware of any clothes except blazers? Or that other colors exist, not just gray and beige?

The conversation above succinctly sums up the latest men’s fashion month. Sure, some companies experiment with colors and cuts — Balmain is a prime example; yet in general, designers resort to turning runway into dance performance just to hold viewers' attention.
2020 IS THE NEW 2007
They do deliver some spectacular shows though: here’s Off-White's step, contemp from Marni, and stunningly beautiful butoh from Undercover — for your viewing pleasure.

However, when it comes to clothing itself, there’s nothing to write home about. Oh, are Dolce & Gabbana reimagining mountain man’s pastoral look? Oh well.

It is generally believed that a poor choice of menswear stems from the fact that womenswear leaves more room to express oneself and to play — the view that proved to be backsliding not only for the industry but also for the consumers.

For starters, the idea of separate men’s and women’s fashion weeks carries little credibility. It is contradicted by male models walking the runway during women’s week, and vice versa.

The separation fails not only on the runway, but outside of it as well: street fashion has a big percentage of women wearing conventionally "men's" apparel, and some, albeit much fewer, men dress in conventionally "women's" clothes.

Why it works this way is easy to deduce: while men’s fashion is considered neutral, women’s is still objectifying — and, if trying out femininity is risky for a man in every way, a woman, by integrating elements of menswear, can gain a sense of security (with oversized clothes) or even of higher social status (power dressing).

In this context, Jacquemus could have had the upper hand in men’s fashion: this year, they announced the first mixed-gender collection. Yet, what they actually presented were just women wearing dresses and men — breeches.
One mixed-gender collection is certainly a step forward. Let us get back to it when men wearing ruffled dresses stop being a Paris fashion week’s joke and become commonplace.

At a glance, dividing fashion into men’s and women’s seems to be instrumental in keeping the industry profitable. Yet in the long run, it becomes detrimental not only for the industry but for the consumers as well: it does not reflect reality anymore. To add to that, fashion houses, toying with philosophy, aspire to at the very least provide a social comment, and at most be the society’s tastemakers — so it is high time they take a clear stance. If they do not, the potential buyer will keep drifting further away from them — we have every opportunity to do so now when alternatives are on the rise.

The consumer wants the product to be beautiful and unique, and if you can’t distinguish between
Burberry and Zara, what’s the point of fashion houses in the first place?
Presently, top-of-the-line fashion houses exist by common agreement, as a part of a consensus that feeds on itself; they do not generate new visual ideas — it’s the same process deconstructivists consumed of the 80s and 90s.

When the only thing that lets the consensus stay afloat is the fact of its existence, the whole thing becomes irrelevant.

When the user stops seeing value in the establishment, they start to generate the product themselves; it already happened with conventional mass media that’s being rapidly replaced by YouTube and Telegram channels. The same is happening to the fashion industry.

Today we can create our own sweater design and print it out on a 3D printer, or purchase a beaded blazer from a no-name Indian manufacturer — how can we get excited for the same turtlenecks that fashion houses produce twice a year?

Thanks to the modern technology and decentralization of the process in general, the manufacturing practices that were once labor-intensive and time-consuming have become less so — which, in turn, means that the consumer can purchase original and well-made things directly from the manufacturer, without utilizing the established channels or consulting with well-known authorities; people more and more treasure the object itself, not as a symbol or some sort of identification, such as the fashion houses' products.

Is it actually possible?

Can the formal consensus be generating value all by itself? That would explain why fashion houses are still able to stand their ground despite never generating new ideas.

Katherine Gorina
As I started perusing the fashion collections of Menswear Fall/Winter 2020, I was pretty sure men’s fashion did not exist. Most of the shows fortified my opinion: "What's that, the same mackintosh half of the guys are already wearing here? Nice, thanks for making it yet again". There were some fresh, intriguing ideas, but let’s start with the bad.

For the new Off-White collection, Virgil Abloh drastically changed the brand’s image: it’s a departure from familiar street fashion to the already boring to death tailoring, reinterpreting classic men’s suit silhouette. It did not work for them. "We weren’t sure how to make things properly before, but now we’re completely confused. But here are some holes in the blazers! Isn’t it totally visionary?"
Prada's work this year is deviously clever: their collection is so boring it’s impossible to just pass it by. Giant travel bags, laptop cases, ugly glasses — we are already used to those. I was astonished by sleeveless tops' trend: either because it’s unclear how exactly it’s supposed to work as winter fashion, or because when I see them, some drunken dad springs to mind.
I enjoyed Dior's and Jil Sander's collections in equal measure. They are different, of course, yet they share a consistency of the brands' aesthetics. For Dior, it’s femininity, the romanticism of the looks and of the models. The main feature of their show was long velvet gloves, which perfectly captured the brand’s identity.

At first, Jil Sander's collection seems simple — in fact, they delivered a good example of how to stay minimalistic and yet not be boring. A lot of details can be spotted only on close-up shots. Their shirt with a watercolor-ish pattern just stole my heart.
Dries Van Noten's ideas leave much to be desired if you compare them to the brand’s previous work — yet they really shine compared to other current brands. This is mainly thanks to their impeccable feel for color and the flawless cuts. As usual, their clothes are astonishingly beautiful and fit the models perfectly. The variety also plays in their favor: instead of the painfully similar jackets and coats, their collection thrives on variety, from their choice of fabrics and patterns to their choice of accessories.
Unfortunately, I could not find a show that has actually amazed me in a good way. If men’s fashion is actually a thing, it should certainly not exist separately from women’s. In that sense, Gucci's collection was quite well-done conceptually: most of the models and looks are selected in such a way that it’s hard to tell at first who’s walking the catwalk, a man or a woman. That’s how it ought to be. Clothes generally considered unisex are basically men’s clothes that a woman can wear, and not vice versa, for some reason. Genderlessness is a great trend. Let’s make it a fashion staple already.

Masha Valmus
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