Building a global brand with both menswear and womenswear lines that are equally formidable is not easy. For a long time, Alexander McQueen struggled to find that footing and only carved his niche towards the end of his career. To date Christopher Kane is still referred to as the accomplished womenswear designer having a hand in menswear. Taking inspiration from his Fall/Winter ’14 collection that explored the texture and form of paper, Kane’s menswear offering felt like a watered down version of his stellar women’s show.
Kane took a leaf out of said paper collection and gave it a sportswear spin. Paper stack motif was translated into trompe l’oeil and psychedelic graphic effects – a technique that is quickly becoming the mark of his men’s collections. Colours were brash vivacious contrasts, expected of athletic wear. It brought to mind an image of Juergen Teller fronting his latest self-portrait coffee table book in a bright orange and blue Adidas get-up. Is Kane playing with notions of bad taste? He’s very good with his hands but he has never been so conceptual before.
One is inclined to think that he’s missed the sweet spot this time. Having said that, many pieces were extremely commercially viable – there was the quintessential sweatshirt in a modified SS14 topography print, a reflective techno-parka and plenty of accessories.
What Kane lacked in his main collection, he made up for it in expanding into suiting and bags. The accessories are in fact many folds stronger than the actual clothing range. Calfskin full-leather backpacks with a flagship sportswear buckle detail that come in classic black and ash grey are the golden nuggets that will fly off the shelves. They are a fine balance between iconic and functional, a language that speaks to most men. The shoe range is also more focused: Kane traded his use of exotic skin for practical slip-ons.
Till now it is hard to ignore how commercially driven Christopher Kane’s menswear is. While it is not a crime – after all fashion should sell – given his extraordinary craft in womenswear it burns the imagination what Kane could do if he allowed himself the free reign in menswear.