Style: Design Direction 2017

As the year is coming to a close, I have observed the changing trends which have shifted starting from the latter half of this year which would most likely persist throughout 2017. Due to the adoption of classic styles by fashion brands such as H&M into their collections, certain classics have been relegated to have become “common” styles and thus has become more smart-casual. This reaction was due to the popularity that certain styles garnered over the years and manufacturers were finally able to adapt and implement intricate patterns and brogues more efficiently thus the capability to supply fashion brands with classics which were previously be found on the shelves of brands focused exclusively on shoes. It was noticeable how much wingtips are more accessible now than when the mainstream trend started going back to proper and classic leather shoes almost 8 years ago.

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Imperial Oxford Wingtip Classic (c013)

Less is More for 2017

Classics will never go out of style, but their styling compliments change with the trends. A classic brogue wingtip, even with a Oxford lacing, can be acceptably worn with denim nowadays whereas if we were to be strict with decorum, it should be limited to business and formal wear. Trends have changed and it is now a lot less to do with the rules of matching but rather how good it looks and if the ensemble meshes together. So while classic styles have become less formal, shoe designers shifted from bold patterns towards a more subtle details which pops out due to more modern and unique designs.

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Prestige Wholecut on hb16 last with high polish toe box for a contrast in texture instead or colors.

Designs have started going back to the simpler cuts, favoring clean lines over intricate patterns. The modern tapered fit has given rise to demand a more “dapper” look from shoes pretty much how cars have to be sleeker and more streamlined in design. Classic broguing is now being replaced with smaller decorative brogues, which I term as modern brogue if you follow our naming convention.

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The Modern Brogue Oxford Plaintoe Weybridge (nt15) is a good example of a modern design which still keeps the familiar look of a brogue wingtip while streamlining the design for a more modern look.

The minimal broguing, or total absent of, is now one of the emerging trends being released by the style houses. There is a movement back to basic styles such as derby plaintoes and wholecuts.

In order to add details to the cleaner designs, more subtle contrasts are employed such as patina via dyes and waxes, or using textured leather as material for the whole shoe or to add dimension to the pair. Some design houses use printed fabrics to line the sides of the shoe to give it more character.

I am also seeing a long of Oxford type single monk straps with plain or capped toes which have started to get more attention from small makers.

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Yohei Fukuda dress loafer.

Dress loafers have also taken an update. Not including brands such as Ecco and Rockport which have been producing modern loafers best suited for the white collar worker, classic dress loafers have always been more for dressed down occasions except for a few wholecut gentleman loafers which are often seen in red carpet events. Dress loafers are now less relaxed and more formal like oxfords. The fit is now dressier with a snug fit which hugs the foot at the lace area. Garters are now used to secure the foot and give it the fit. This works well with custom fit shoe makers and mass retail brands will have a harder manufacturing them due to possible fitting issues making these a great addition if you already have most of the basic styles.

Style Shift

The classics wont go away. Brogue oxford wingtips and oxford captoes will always be in style. The classics have seen a major revival in the last 6 years and created an awareness for tradition among the younger generation. The number of local microbrands which have pushed for its revival and awareness in the Philippines may have dwindled but they have played a vital role in cementing the classics as style staples for the modern gentleman. Since design and style development has always been one of the weaknesses of small scale workshops in Marikina, the classic designs have been exhausted as microbrands pushed for recognition in the local market. With the shifting trends, younger designers are needed to create modern updates to classic designs which is what is being done by Japanese shoemakers and brands such as Magnanni shoes.

The style shift is brought about by the saturation the market with the classic designs. There have been minor tweaks to the classics but the general look has always been kept. Designers have then started looking into the simpler and more unique styles (since there is almost no original design anymore) to tweak and update and recently it has been the humble plain toe. The variations which can be achieved with the plain toe is as rich as all the classic styles due to its clean toe box which can serve as a blank canvas for designers to work on.

Modernized dress loafers and lace-ups from retail brands, while acceptable as formal shoes, lack the design refinement which is needed to achieve a more refined look. 2017 looks to be an interesting year for shoe design as we continue to push for creating unique looks with classic and cleaner styles while keeping the overall style familiar.

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