Fleece, alpaca, merino, pashmina, vicuña — warmth and fashion go hand in hand

Winter often meant comfort over style. That need not be the case anymore. The options are many and designers more creative than ever

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Fine craftsmanship to the discerning buyer, connoisseur, if you will, always reeks of luxury. The handmade, the special, the bespoke, the rare that has an elusive quality. Fine clothes make the man. However, what makes the clothes? For designers of haute apparel, it often starts with the yarn and how it is woven. Along with the material, how it is treated makes a world of difference. The finest yarns and techniques include jacquard weaves, velvets, silks, embroideries, linen and cotton prints, digital prints, and so much else.

Pashmina has been the hallmark of quality and luxury. Woven from the fleece of the Tibetan goat, it is a painstaking process. When temperatures drop to below minus forty degrees celsius in the upper reaches of the Himalayas, the Changthangi or Tibetan goats grow another layer of fine fur below that coarser one on top that is exposed to the elements. As the mercury rises in spring and summer, this inner layer of fine protective hair is shed, and is collected by the Changpa tribe. It is first spun on a wheel then woven by hand to a fine fabric. The word pashmina comes from the Urdu word 'pashm' for goat. And because it was found chiefly in Kashmir, the English-speaking world called it cashmere.

Pashmina fibre from the neck and underbelly of goats, is hand-woven into soft and supple fabrics–shawls, stoles and scarves and winter-wear such as sweaters, even suits for men that are characterised by an exquisitely soft hand-feel and beauty, and are very very warm.

Even more luxurious is vicuña that comes from a camel / llama like animal from parts of South America. The bidding for this goes up to millions only for the fibre. Animals are not killed to procure this nor are they raised in captivity. Allowed to roam free, when they shed hair, it is collected by entire villages. The fabric is sold per centimetre and a designer needs to calculate usage to the last millimetre. It is superfine and can give pashmina a run for its money. Other ‘noble animal fibres’ include guanaco, llama, baby-alpaca and silk.

Also read: The dawn of a new decade

Leather rampage

Real and faux, bright and sober, shiny and matte, leather has its moment of glory this year

Gucci paired shiny leather trousers and shorts with jackets. This may not be new or exclusive to fashion, but the reinvention and eye-grabbing look definitely is. Leather has always been the mainstay of bikers. This year, however, it is more readily visible on other items of apparel as a whole slew of designers chose it. Lambskin, nappa and faux leather in T-shirts, shorts, trousers, jackets and long coats—it was in many collections.  Ferragamo showed military green leather trousers paired with a short suede jacket, and a straight brown one on printed pants, as also in a classic plain black. Fendi went with black leather and Prada put faux fur on faux leather in a brightly-coloured post-modern sensibility. 

Shades of fashion

Blue, the new go-to colour from Pantone, will brighten your look this year 

Classic blue from Pantone, the declared colour of the year, found place in collections along with others from the colour spectrum. There was, of course, red and yellow and a whole rainbow of brights.

Givenchy put in pops of red, and was among those who chose to go with Pantone 2020 in an electric blue. Louis Vuitton brought in sky blue and white in a segment in keeping with the heaven on earth theme of the show. Berluti made more liberal use of colour with blue, emerald, red and even neon pink. Giorgio Armani had a look in a deeper darker shade of the colour. A more unstructured look in both trousers and jackets was visible in the Louis Vuitton show, along with layered and asymmetrical hems. The colour spectrum veered from the sober to an eye-popping fuchsia. Prada's formal looks shared space on the ramp with a more informal sporty vibe, with the colour palette moving from soft mauve and  palish green to vibrant red. The neckties brought in brighter tones of yellow and hues of red. 

Also read: Dress like you own the party

This, not that

Spray on jeans was a fashion trend?

Seriously? Guys do you really want to get your specials parts squashed and suffocated?

Is a long tee a fashion statement?

Does it flatter the male body? You decide

Cross body bag

While it may be here to stay, it's not quite the thing for when you want gravitas, is it?

Monochrome

Suit up in colours. There is a world beyond black

inVest in it

Vest on a bare chest for some show of man's skin other than from beachwear

Leather up

There's a world of styles and sizes in leather jackets other than what bikers don

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