A Menswear Expert On AW21 Style | SLMan

A Menswear Expert On AW21 Style

Few men know more about what’s hot (and what’s not) than Damien Paul. Head of menswear for MATCHESFASHION, he’s perfectly placed to share the coolest trends, the best brands and the pieces all men should be buying for the season ahead. SLMan gave him a good grilling…

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What’s your favourite trend right now, Damien?

We’re seeing a lot of colour in menswear at the moment, from pastels through to bright bold shades. Historically, there’s always been a trend for embracing the joy in fashion following times of uncertainty and this year is about dressing to look and feel great. From the past year we have taken lessons in comfort, but the use of bold colour is a way of updating a pared-back look and injecting some fun and identity into an outfit. Men like to experiment with colour more than they receive credit for, and we’re becoming more confident with mixing and matching colours together when curating an outfit. 

Is there one thing you think every guy should buy this season?

The shirt remains a staple in every man’s wardrobe, largely due to its versatility – there’s a shirt to suit every man’s needs and lifestyle. Depending on the fabrication and design construction, a classic shirt – by a design house like Bourrienne Paris X or Sébline – can be worn for winter weddings, Christmas celebrations or layered casually day to day. Our customers love new more relaxed silhouettes and are prioritising fabrications and fit more than ever before. Favourites include S.S. Daleys striped silk shirt in autumnal hues of green and brown and Gabriela Hearst’s utilitarian-inspired bouclé overshirt in classic ivory. 

What about the bottom half – any particular trousers we need in our armoury?

A relaxed leg trouser should be a staple in every man’s wardrobe and is a great example of minimalist ease. Clean lines and a loose structure create a flattering and timeless silhouette whether in the office, the comfort of your own home or dressing up for evenings out. Look for brands like Brunello Cucinelli, E. Tautz and Jil Sander.

And footwear?

Sliders have become the go-to WFH shoe, as even Rishi Sunak proved a few weeks ago. From the classic designs favoured by the likes of David Beckham to the directional aesthetics of Justin Bieber, sliders combine maximum comfort with style. The rise of the ‘mule’ has paved the way for a more elevated slider, with different materials such as leather or suede, and patterns such as perforated detailing or – if you’re brave enough – metal studs. Co-ordinating your socks and sliders has become something of a fashion statement – but there’s nothing wrong with showing your toes if that’s what you feel like!

Any new brands you want to tell us about?

I’m delighted to have S.S. Daley’s debut ready-to-wear collection launch online recently, as part of MATCHESFASHION’s Innovators Programme. Steven Stokey-Daley’s talent and new take on menswear is incredibly exciting – his forward-thinking design feels extremely relevant. Using locally sourced fabrics, with an uncompromising vision, he’s creating ageless clothes that are credible but wearable for real people. It’s really great to see.

If you’re a guy who likes to play it safe, any other brands to check out?

Auralee is new to MATCHESFASHION this season. It does sophisticated yet functional wardrobe staples in muted tones of navy, cream and grey. Its clean-cut, relaxed separates are rendered from high-quality raw materials, making them the perfect building blocks for any man’s wardrobe. 

Another new one to us, Le17septembre Homme offers timeless wardrobe essentials from structured wool-blend overcoats to straight-leg twill trousers. Each piece is made in collaboration with skilled artisans – and in limited quantities to reduce waste. The collection prioritises comfort and is easy to team with existing wardrobe favourites.

What’s your favourite piece you’ve bought in recent months?

These boots from The Row are just fantastic. I wear a lot of boots in winter and these are the perfect rust-brown leather, bringing a contemporary edge to my wardrobe staple. 

Is there anything you find yourself going back to every A/W? 

I always try to strike a balance with high-low dressing – interspersing casual comfort with statement hero pieces to create a relaxed yet chic uniform. High-low style is the amalgamation of dressing to both look and feel great – for example, teaming luxe separates from the likes of Lemaire with more casual, comfortable pieces by Another Aspect or Raey

Is there anything that always sells out the minute it hits the site?

Our hype sneaker collaborations. These launch as Coming Soon for a few days to get our customers excited for the release, and are always extremely popular. Adidas x Craig Green, And Wander x Salomon and New Balance x Casablanca have been recent successes. 

And finally, give us one trend to look out for next year…

Casual tailoring prevailed in the SS22 menswear shows. Brands that historically placed tailoring at the centre of their seasonal offerings completely rethought their approach to the traditional suit for next season. Silhouettes were relaxed and oversized, collars extended and button detailing triumphed. Favourites of mine included Dunhill, Ermenegildo Zegna and Paul Smith. 

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