Couture to Streetwear: A Guide for Sustainable Menswear Pre-Fall 2022
Fashion9 Minutes Read

Couture to Streetwear: A Guide for Sustainable Menswear Pre-Fall 2022

August 14, 2022 Share

DDW curates your one-stop guide for a sustainable Menswear Pre-Fall 2022 with a list of our favourite ateliers, designers and brands from streetwear to couture.

With August in full Swing, Pre-Fall 2022 is here with sustainable menswear at the forefront of our cultural consciousness. The masculine form can sometimes be overlooked in broader coverage of the fashion calendar. Yet as Maison Margiela continue genderless Artisanal Collections, and fashion houses such as Fendi, Valentino and Ellie Saab introduce men’s looks to Haute Couture Fashion Week, the idea of bespoke slow fashion for the male body is taking hold.

Whether it’s sustainable couture, eco-conscious ready-to-wear, or high-fashion recycled streetwear, the industry is changing. The timeless idea of tailoring is making a welcome return, alongside designer rental services, resell sites, and bespoke garment recycling. The fresh visions at every Fashion Week may continually entice fashion fans to buy, but the effect of this seasonal culture on the environment is undoubted. 

The 2020 ‘Fashion on Climate’ report revealed that the fashion industry produced more greenhouse gasses than Germany, the U.K. and France combined in 2018. The production and processing of raw materials for the fashion industry also lead to unprecedented amounts of global water wastage, chemical sewage, deforestation, and microplastics. After the wildfires that spread throughout the U.K. last month, the excitement of seasonal trends has taken a cultural nosedive in favour of long-lasting style and wearer-focused couture.

In streetwear, sustainable materials and slow manufacturing have proven key to reimagining the urban man. With global temperatures rising, Pre-Fall is looking a bit different compared to previous years, but the season is still stylistically strong with environmentally-friendly fashion houses to match.

‘Pierre Balmain adjusting a dress on model Ruth Ford in 1947’ | Credit: Carl Van Vechten, Wikimedia Commons

The Haute Couture calendar doesn’t cater to the Pre-Fall season. The weather transition is experienced seamlessly, however, in the diversity of looks provided by designers. If you’re looking for the most elusive and rarified fashion, Couture will always be your first port of call. The made-to-order status offers a more mindful and considerate purchasing process.

‘Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Autumn Winter 2022, designed by Olivier Rousteing’ | Credit: Deluxshionist

True couture means there must be an atelier appointment, with subsequent fittings, and personalised tailoring to ensure the final result is unique to your body. Depending on the rules of the designer and their location, the clothes may or may not be exported for personalisation, so keep this environmental impact in mind. As the saying goes, shop local. If you’re in Paris, go to Jean Paul Gaultier. If you’re in Rome, go to Palazzo Mignanelli for Valentino

With that in mind, the couture process takes time with particular attention paid to the body of the wearer. Multiple fittings may be required, with at least one fitting required for the stamp of “haute couture”. If you’re looking for an instantaneous rush of purchase serotonin, couture won’t satisfy that urge but the focus on craftsmanship is part of the experience and the price.

If a dress can range from tens to hundreds of thousands, expect a six-figure minimum for a three-piece suit or fully accessorised outfit. It is an expense worthy of the one-of-a-kind experience. Through the made-to-order process, designers avoid polluting the environment in textile processes for clothes that could go to landfill or incineration if unsold.

Considering the burning of clothes that fail to sell at a high enough price in the fashion industry, couture is a traditional and decadently slow approach to luxury attire. A different form of sustainable menswear than generally offered, couture always offers a slowed fashion experience that can fill your entire Pre-Fall schedule with fashion. 

Previously a female-only space, couture has rapidly developed in the past decade to include menswear and unisex clothing. Jean Paul Gaultier’s debut haute couture collection in 1997 paved the way, offering the first of such bespoke designs for men. The latest Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week saw highlights from Gaultier again, with guest designer Olivier Rousteing of Balmain. Met with resounding acclaim, Rousteing’s first look was a visceral collage reinterpretation from Gaultier’s Autumn Winter 1994 show.

A patchwork quality grounds the extravagant two-piece co-ord. The long sleeves, trouser length, and breathable fabric offer perfect protection from the last rays of summer, and any sudden dips in temperature. Gaultier’s 1994 work is reimagined and remixed throughout the first fourteen looks of the collection, with a sense that each design will fit uniquely on every wearer. Accessories include head scarves and nose chains, a further nod to Rousteing’s Ethiopian ancestry and Jean Paul Gaultier’s boundary-breaking and Indo-African-influenced “global village chic”. 

For dramatic formal wear, this Pre-Fall, Elie Saab’s first-ever couture menswear selection for Fall 2022 is a must. Featuring the captivating embellishments and embroideries expected of the Lebanese designer, the innovative approach to layering reimagines the classic suit form through an excessively luxurious lens.

Sustainable Menswear
‘Look 7 from Elie Saab Autumn Winter 2022 Haute Couture’ | Credit: Gorunway

Structure and embellishment are strong and fearless, while the palette reflects the golds and velvet blacks of an erstwhile monarchy. Beneath the featured floor-length kimonos and capes are layers of detail and intricacy. The sheer shirts prove a highlight with delicate beading and black velvet paisley patterns adding a timeless feel to this postmodern wardrobe must-have.

If you prefer instant gratification or find the wait for couture unbearable, huge names and smaller fashion houses provide more sustainable options for menswear. Stella McCartney is an industry pioneer from sustainable fashion to the trans-inclusive launch of her unisex section. Her current collection suitable for menswear, ‘Stella McCartney Presents Disney Fantasia’, maintains McCartney’s dedication to sustainability with Nona Source Upcycled Materials and GOTS® cotton, grown without harmful pesticides.

‘Fair Isle Co-ord from “Stella McCartney Presents Disney Fantasia”‘ | Credit: Stella McCartney

The co-ord Fair Isle knitted shorts and matching sleeveless jumpers are layered easily with under tops and skin-tight trousers from brands like Balenciaga. With tasteful minimalist monochrome patterns created from Disney’s iconic imagery, this set and other co-ords in the collection work to enliven any block-coloured polo necks already in your wardrobe.

Although the materials seem standard, McCartney’s continual refusal to use fur and leather in her designs has led the house to collaborate with research and development for new sustainable alternatives. Mylo™ – a vegan mushroom leather – debuted on McCartney’s womenswear catwalk last year with industry hopes that the material will feature again in future Stella McCartney unisex and menswear edits.

Sustainable Menswear
‘Adidas by Stella McCartney Solarglide Running Shoes in Core Black’ | Credit: Adidas

Stella McCartney’s recent collaboration with Adidas has also offered the sportswear giant McCartney’s stamp of approval. The ‘Adidas by Stella McCartney’ Solarglide running shoes are sleek and sophisticated with extra support for runners in the striking Bio-based cage that creates the silhouette of the trainer.

The trainer contains a minimum of 50% recycled material and is a more sustainable choice for the casual runner or athleisure fanatic. With breathable sock-knit and a function-focused design, the Solarglide is perfect for Pre-Fall walks in the park or training runs on the damp pavement. The avant-garde trainer is available for men in classic Core Black only, allowing easy outfit curation and durability.

Despite queries regarding their supply chain issues, Adidas has been slowly increasing its focus on sustainable and ethical athleisure. Their campaign with Parley for the Oceans turned marine pollution into contemporary trainers, and the brand pledges to have switched entirely to recycled Polyester by 2024. When purchasing from Adidas, keep an eye on the item descriptions as the sportswear brand expands its sustainability notes under products. 

Other classic global brands taking the sustainability plunge are denim pioneers Levi’s and the trekking-turned-streetwear favourite Patagonia. Both brands are famed for their craft and quality, making them durable bets for essential wear with their timeless all-American style.

Levi’s has pledged that by 2025, their process will only use 100 per cent sustainably sourced cotton and 100 per cent renewable energy in Levi-owned and operated facilities. Their iconic 501 jeans are available in eco-friendly editions, with silhouettes such as crop, slim and classic, and colours from steely blue ‘I Call You Name’ and the dark midnight ‘Eastern Standard Time’. 

Sustainable Menswear
‘E.L.V. Denim Tailored Reverse Denim Trousers and Jacket’ | Credit: E.L.V. Denim

For a more bespoke and local experience, zero-waste E.L.V. Denim makes gender-neutral jeans and jackets for ready-to-wear and made-to-measure. Their process involves upcycling pre-loved denim and offcuts that have been thrown in the trash to create fashion-forward statements like the reverse denim tailored suit and contrasting panel denim jeans. Based in London’s East End, E.L.V. Denim has cultivated the same effortless sense of style popularised by fast fashion UNIQLO with the same price range.

Unlike the Japanese retailer, E.L.V. Denim maintains an excellent environmental and ethical record focusing on slow fashion and a trash-luxury trajectory. The brand offers walk-ins and appointments in their Dalston studio, with a consultation and two fittings costing a mere £150 alongside the cost of the jeans. If you prefer the stiffer fabric of classic Levi’s denim, think about opting for E.L.V. Denim or pre-loved vintage Levi’s. The new sustainable-edit blend of organic cotton and TENCEL used by Levi’s creates a more supple material. However, as fashion moves toward a greener revolution, expect more and more brands to normalise the novel feeling of TENCEL. 

Patagonia is a proud user of TENCEL in everything from underwear to hemp jean trousers and waffle-blend crew jumpers. The fibre is made from wood pulp and growing increasingly popular in fast fashion brands such as H&M and Cos. Patagonia is unique in its entirely closed and almost 100% waste-free system. Their process continually recycles water and solvent without polluting into surrounding environments.

Patagonia’s dedication is apparent in the “Good” rating given to the brand on the sustainable and ethical fashion directory Good On You. With long-lasting durable products, a trade-in scheme, and an honest approach to the greenwashing label of “sustainability”, Patagonia has a lot of credit in eco-fashion circles, despite the lengths that the brand still has to go.

If a “good” rating falls short of expectations, KOHR is a top choice for finely crafted sustainable essentials. KOHR is an independent, sustainable, and ethical fashion brand based locally in the U.K., with pieces designed and ethically manufactured in-house.

Sustainable Menswear
‘KOHR Unisex Waffle Trousers and Oversized Waffle Shirt’ | Credit: KOHR

Their collections cover essentials that can recreate Yeezy streetwear in a sustainable vein, as well as a gender-neutral skincare line providing deodorants, hair care, cleansers and more. KOHR’s collections are micro-capsules focused on execution and quality over the number of products available. It is impossible to live on couture alone, so a visit to the KOHR website is a must for those interested in investing in the future of their wardrobe and the planet.

Pre-Fall may seem like a blink of an eye in the fashion schedule, but with our ever-changing global weather patterns, a wardrobe ready for sun, hail, or snow is proving necessary. Focusing on slower fashion cycles, circularity, and the ethical fine print is a must when buying, as well as checking on so-called ‘sustainable’ brands to see if promises are delivered. Curating your own sustainable and durable Pre-Fall menswear wardrobe is a simple process: taste, research, and investment – in ten years, your body and the planet will thank you. 

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Author: Sorcha
Haute Couture
Pre-Fall 2022
Stella McCartney