Why This Spring’s Collections Feel Like A Breath Of Fresh Air

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Why This Spring’s Collections Feel Like A Breath Of Fresh Air

Words by Mr Chris Elvidge | Photography by Scandebergs | Styling by Ms Otter Jezamin Hatchett

22 February 2021

We boreal men look forward to the arrival of spring, and its promise of longer, warmer days, with an excitement bordering on hysteria. And that’s during a normal year. What’s going to happen this spring, then, when it’s not just the cold and dark of winter we’re escaping, but the crushing boredom of months of Covid-enforced lockdown? If tradition dictates that we whip off our shirts at the first sign of a sunny day, as it does here in London, might we go further this year and take off the rest of our clothes, too?

You won’t find us advocating nudity here at MR PORTER. It does nothing for our business model (which, if you aren’t aware, revolves almost entirely around selling clothes). And besides, after being trapped indoors for so long, isn't there something appealing about the idea of getting properly dressed? We think so. When you’ve worn slippers and a dressing gown for as long as you can remember, even something as simple as lacing your feet into a new pair of shoes can feel like a statement of intent, an acknowledgement that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, a world beyond these four walls.

Thankfully, this spring’s coming menswear collections, the first of which are arriving on our shelves as we speak, have you covered. Given that they were conceived last year, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, you could be forgiven for expecting them to be all doom and gloom. But what was so pleasantly surprising about them was their shared mood of vernal optimism.

Despite everything going on in the world, or perhaps because of it, they gave us something to smile about and to hope for. This is, of course, what fashion should do. It should show us a way forward. After all, the way we dress isn’t just about channelling who we are, but who we’d like to be. There’s something inherently optimistic about that.

But enough waffle and philosophising. What about the clothes? In order to give you a better idea of what’s on offer this season, we’ve picked out a few of our favourite pieces and imagined them in a setting that speaks to us of the joys of spring: the garden.

Marni’s chunky mohair sweater serves double duty here, at once a mood enhancer – who could fail to raise a smile at the sight of those colours? – and an insulating layer for anyone brave enough to venture out into the garden before it’s properly warm. And, let’s be honest, that still might be a while yet. But the star of the show is surely Bottega Veneta’s Bounce Derby shoes. Set on boat-like rubber soles and fastened with broad laces, they encapsulate this season’s trend for sturdy, substantial footwear.

If Bottega Veneta’s sturdy leather shoes fail to put a spring in your step, then how about this pristine pair of suede sneakers? Inspired by the sort of old-school tennis shoes that might have one day graced the feet of Mr Björn Borg or Mr John McEnroe, they have been elevated to high-luxury status by none other than Brioni, and they’re being worn here with a pair of linen-blend trousers from one of our favourite French menswear brands, Officine Generale

In a collaboration we never knew we wanted but now can’t imagine living without, the cult NYC brand Aimé Leon Dore has joined forces with the British shoemaker Clarks Originals to produce a range of wool-fleece desert boots in standout colours such as bright orange, classic tan and the bottle green seen here. It’s part of a wider series of collaborations between Aimé Leon Dore and heritage brands, which, along with Clarks, also includes Woolrich and Drake’s, and it speaks to the continued mutual respect shared between contemporary designers and time-honoured manufacturers.

Highlights from LOEWE’s latest collection include a range of shirts, polo shirts and cardigans in a vintage collegiate-inspired palette of burgundy, navy-blue and forest green. Their shared colour scheme means that these garments will look great layered over one another, which in turn makes them perfect for spring, when the unpredictable weather can demand a flexible approach to dressing. That’s the practical argument for LOEWE’s spring knitwear, anyway, but let’s be honest: this is something we really want to wear because of how it looks.

This picture tells the story of classic wardrobe staples given a luxe makeover: the iconic Type 3 trucker jacket, most commonly rendered in denim, is taken to new heights by SAINT LAURENT, while the sleeveless V-neck sweater vest is reimagined in a mauve-coloured cashmere blend by Bottega Veneta and worn over a tonally similar rollneck sweater. It’s an outfit that speaks to the moment, which remains very casual and relaxed, while also acknowledging our desire to make that little bit more of an effort.

Night falls on the garden, and as the temperature drops another layer becomes necessary. In this case it’s a padded-nylon varsity jacket from Burberry complete with webbing straps at the shoulder that subtly nod to the British fashion house’s iconic check pattern. It’s proof that even the oldest, most illustrious brands still have a trick or two up – or, should we say, on – their sleeves.

This charming outfit is built around a brushed-felt worker jacket from Nanushka, a new label from Budapest which champions upcycling and the use of environmentally friendly fabric alternatives such as vegan leather. Why are we mentioning this? Because when it comes to fashion, the biggest “trend” you’re likely to see over the next few years is the industry attempting to become more sustainable. As awareness of the environmental impact of fast fashion grows, expect more, and bigger, brands to follow the example set by Nanushka.