The Decade That Taste Forgot: The Revival of the 1970s in Menswear
Dissecting the groovy men’s fashion trend that we’ve already begun seeing from some of the biggest brands and figures in the industry.
As fashion does, we’ve seemingly looked to every decade in the past half century for inspiration. Between today’s Coachella-goers eerily resembling the teenagers who attended Woodstock in the sixties to the recent injection of the logo-mania and neon colours brought by the nineties, the biggest names in fashion are constantly drawing upon nostalgia for inspiration.
However, it seems as if we’ve collectively just skipped over the seventies as a whole–and for good reason. The ugliest era of men’s fashion might evoke flashes of flared pants, horrifying male chest hair, platform cork shoes, large collars and even larger hair, images that rightfully make us cringe and still keep us up at night. As much of menswear has fallen into cookie-cutter repetitions such as neutral palettes, clean lines and minimalistic designs, 70s fashion comes back as seemingly the perfect anti-hero.
“The 1970s is the most powerful image, for me, for the brand,” Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele declared after his Winter 2016 menswear show. Looking back, this perhaps was a foreshadowing what he had in store, as Gucci followed up with collections featuring relaxed silhouettes, earthy colours and plush fabrics, with many other prominent fashion houses following suit.
However, as seen everywhere from the runway to Hollywood’s biggest stars, the 70s are back, or at least getting a long-overdue crack at redemption this cold season. At the same time, pulling off the look without all the seventies pornstar chic and Saturday Night Fever is no easy feat, but what specifically is even worth incorporating?
Back in March, Pantone’s annual fashion colour report named deep orange-red as 2017’s “quintessential autumn colour” for its evocative warmth. Indeed, one of the quickest routes to adopting an authentic 70s vibe is in the colour palette. Brown and orange have quite possibly been the two least desirable colours in menswear for quite some time now, but in a turn of events the taboo on them seems to have been lifted.
“What I really like is mixing the colours – especially earthy browns and orange with other colours that are contrasting,” says Toronto blogger and influencer Jakub Pniewski. “I also want to try shirts with floral and psychedelic patterns.”
If you’re not completely sold on eye-popping statement pieces like Dior Homme’s range of outerwear or Heron Preston’s comfy sweatpants “uniform,” incorporating subtle hints of the toned down brown or orange can give a subtle retro tint to your a modern outfit. For better or worse, nothing quite screams the 1970s like a dark mocha brown with a red tint.
In order to truly evoke the full sense of the 1970s, it’ll take more than coffee-coloured clothing. When it comes to textures, Corduroy is probably the first thing that comes to mind when we think of seventies fashion, but we’ve begun seeing velvet, silk and suede more and more, providing plush alternatives to the “technical materials” that have been sweeping the industry as of late.
Corduroy pants are a great starting point for those that are somewhat hesitant, with the darker the shades being the safer bet. Toned down suede jackets and bombers with streamlined designs are a nice way to similarly refresh your go-to outfit, while silk shirts are a fun way to stand out, so long as you let the print speak for itself.
The roll neck, which has solidified its place as an autumn essential over the decades, is your best friend for easy entree into 70s style. A chunky turtleneck might be as seventies as you can get and is perhaps the finest example of winter layering you’re likely to come across (think cream shearling coat). Similarly, some of the biggest fashion houses including Prada, Lanvin and Balenciaga have taken classic patterned jumpers and knitwear and reworked it, giving it a modern feel with more up-to-date fits.
A time in which the biggest filmmakers, movie stars, artists and celebrities were reacting to the economic and political instability and uncertainty in embracing a new sense of flamboyance in the way they dressed. Four decades later, we seem to be in a rather similar position and that defiant, rebellious spirit seems poised stick around for a bit.
Ultimately, the key to successfully pulling off seventies inspired gear is not to look like you’ve just raided your father’s wardrobe vintage gear from head-to-toe. Instead, the best way to channel the seventies is to do it with a modern twist, incorporating a couple of sleek pieces that complement your existing wardrobe with modern fits, cuts and styling.