WE REVEAL THE KEY PLAYERS IN THE MENSWEAR FASHION WORLD WHO ARE SHAPING THE FACE OF INDUSTRY AND ENSURING IT HAS MORE OF AN INFLUENCE THAN EVER.
If there’s one man who knows the men’s luxury fashion industry it’s Alessandro Sartori. The Italian born Artistic Director of Ermenegildo Zegna has spent his entire career working with luxury menswear brands. He is a leading force in the industry, creating timeless yet forward thinking designs as he takes Ermenegildo Zegna to the next level. Since 2016 Sartori has been at the helm of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, with full creative responsibility across all Zegna brands and all creative initiatives, the first to be appointed for such role. Sartori is no stranger to the brand however, as he has previously held the position of creative director of Z ZEGNA; the brand’s diffusion line. Over an 8-year period between 2003 and 2011, Sartori moulded Z ZEGNA into an international brand, recognized for rewriting the rules of contemporary tailoring as well as continuing to maintain the status of the couture line as the powerhouse it is. After a five year break while working with Berluti, building it’s ready-to-wear business from scratch, Sartori returned to Ermenegildo Zegna. He has taken the luxury Italian brand from strength to strength, implementing a unique interpretation on design, developing a concept that combines traditional tailoring and sportswear; a market that has grown hugely popular over recent years.
2018 was been a year that saw countless changes within menswear for a number of luxury houses. When Kim Jones departed Louis Vuitton as menswear Style Director there was much talk about where he would go next. In June 2018 Jones showed his first collection as Artistic Director at Dior Men. Jones has become known for revolutionising menswear at Louis Vuitton as he combined an edgy streetwear aesthetic with stylish sophistication. He studied at the prestigious Central St Martins college in London and his entire graduate collection was bought by John Galliano. Jones soon developed his own label which saw a four year reign before the designer joined Dunhill to take on the role of Creative Director in 2008. Three years later he joined Louis Vuitton and the rest is history. As Jones embarks on a new chapter at Dior Menswear he has vowed to take it to a new level making it a louder brand with extravagant shows and maybe bring a little of the street wear edge he is known for, while of course keeping the elegance of Dior.
Paul Surridge has been Creative Director at Roberto Cavalli since July 2017. After a turbulent period of change at the house, and just eight weeks before he presented the SS18 collection, and despite hesitance from many, Surridge took it all in his stride. Surridge has an impressive fashion CV. The English designer began his career at Calvin Klein before joining Christopher Bailey at Burberry. He then became design director for men at Jil Sander under Raf Simons, where he met Gian Giacomo Ferraris.
Next was an appointment as Creative Director at Z Zegna in 2011 before leaving in 2014 to become creative consultant of Acne Studios, overseeing all the menswear activity. So it was not surprising eyebrows were raised we he made the transition from minimal to extravagant with a brand like Roberto Cavalli. Surridge is the driving force behind the new positioning of the brand as it grows up and adopts a more sophisticated concept while still holding the roots of the house.
Italian designer Tisci became one of the most recognisable names in fashion thanks to his twelve-year stint at Givenchy. Tisci resurrected the brand and saw it become the well-respected house it is today. The designer impressively crafted distinct brand identities for all of Givenchy’s product categories across women’s, men’s, ready-to-wear and haute couture lines. In February 2017 Tisci announced he would be departing to take on the role of Chief Creative Officer at Burberry, succeeding Christopher Bailey. Tisci’s first SS19 collection has so far received incredible reviews as he takes the brand to the next level with a modern sense of sophistication.
No one is perhaps more controversial in the industry at this moment than Hedi Slimane. Earlier this year the Italian-Tunisian designer joined Celine as Artistic, Creative and Image Director where he will soon design the first menswear collection. Slimane began his career in marketing for Yves Saint Laurent and soon became their director of men’s collections. His Black Tie collection in A/W 2000 became iconic thanks to the skinny tie style that Slimane became known for. Soon after Slimane left Yves Saint Laurent and took up the position of Creative Director of Dior Homme.
He again brought his ‘skinny-tie style’ to the Dior catwalk and changed the silhouette of the menswear house. In 2012 Slimane returned to Saint Laurent as Creative Director, overseeing the brand’s women’s and menswear collections. It was Slimane who requested the house was rebranded as Saint Laurent and went on to completely revitalise the brand and its entire image. In 2016 Slimane announced that he would leave the brand, and in 2018 he showed his first collection as Artistic Director at Celine.
The show was to say the least, controversial with critics suggesting he had destroyed Phoebe Philo’s legacy, while others embracing the change. Hate it or love it Slimane has plans to launch menswear as well as couture and fragrance lines for the brand so it seems he is building his next empire.
Despite being one of the youngest Creative Directors in the industry Olivier Rousteing is one of the most influential. At the age of just 24 he was appointed as Creative Director at Balmain. Born in France Rousteing began his career as a designer at Roberto Cavalli. He was very quickly hired as the head of womenswear at Balmain.
When Christophe Decarnin stepped down as Creative Director Rousteing was given the role, becoming the second youngest designer to head up a French fashion house only behind Yves Saint Laurent. Soon Rousteing began to develop the brand, with a huge personal social media following he took the brand from a relatively quiet brand to one that was everywhere and anyway.
He developed his Balmain Army which included the likes of Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Kim Kardsahian and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. In December 2018 a new logo was revealed and this January will see Rousteing present his first couture collection in Paris, so it’s fair to say he has much to accomplish yet.
With a strong career in the world of furniture design Simons had a change of direction in 1995 to launch his own menswear label that has since become one of the most recognised names in men’s luxury fashion. In 2005 Simons was appointed Creative Director of Jil Sander covering both menswear and womenswear. He was inspired by his love for rebellious youth cultures and traditional menswear and this led him to create collections that featured pure construction, minimal styling and modern proportions. In 2011 Simons replaced John Galliano at Dior while his Raf Simons brand continued to co-exist. In 2015 he stepped down from his position at Dior to focus on his own label, and he was shortly after number Creative Director of Calvin Klein. Just last month it was announced that Simons would leave Calvin Klein, eight months before his contract was up for renewal.
American-born Virgil Abloh first burt onto the scene as Kanye West’s Creative Director overseeing West’s projects including concert merchandise and stage shows. He went on to create his own label Off-White – the streetwear label that caused waves in the industry thanks to its edgy designs that were a unique take on luxury.
In March 2018 it was announced he would join Louis Vuitton as Artistic Director of Menswear. While still managing Off-White Abloh has fulfilled his dream by joining Louis Vuitton and has so far ticked all the right boxes, bringing his streetwear influence to the brand making it relevant and modern. Of course it helps to have a best mate like Kanye West who, alongside Kim Kardashian haven’t missed a show so far.