1David Bowie and Prince, Gone But Never to Be Forgotten
Let’s just get this out of the way: It was a cruel coincidence to lose two of the greatest artists to ever live and create on planet earth in one year. But the outpouring of tributes (including plenty of style homages both intergalactic and purple) reminded us how much they contributed to all aspects of culture—especially fashion.
2Hedi Slimane Leaves Saint Laurent at the Height of His Powers
After four years and at the height of his influence on fashion (see: suede boots and skinny everything), Hedi Slimane departed Saint Laurent in March. While there were rumors that he would nab an untouchable design gig at Chanel, he’s instead spent his new free time taking photographs and suing his former employer for millions of dollars. He alsore-emerged on Twitter to settle the score with those who claimed he disliked or even banned the classic YSL logo during his tenure. Here’s hoping he’s planning a triumphant fashion return for 2017.
3 Merch Was the Hottest, Most Unlikely Trend of the Year
Being an artist these days isn’t as profitable as it once was. But in 2016, an alternative revenue stream for artists opened up like never before—create a line of T-shirts, hoodies, leather jackets, hats, or whatever, and go on tour to sell the crap out of it. The clear winner of the Great Merch Wars of 2016 was Kanye West, whose Pablo gear flooded city streets way more than his actual fashion line did. But the list of musicians who created stylish merch in 2016 was endless, from Travis Scott to Justin Bieber—who sold his at Barneys—toJohn Mayer to Frank Ocean and way, way, more.
4Raf Simons Finally Made His Next Big Move
There’s no doubt about it that since leaving Dior in 2015, Raf Simons became one of if not the hottest free agent in fashion. When it was announced in October that Raf Simons took the top design spot at Calvin Klein, the New York fashion scene, Raf’s archival obsessives and CK execs all jumped for joy. We haven’t yet seen what he plans to do, but for now we know that he’ll show the men’s and women’s collections together in New York in February—and that Raf Simons rarely disappoints.
5 The Collaboration Craze Peaked
For its Fall-Winter collection, Vetements released a collection that was almost entirely made by other brands—Levi’s jeans, Schott leather jackets, Alpha Industries bombers, Brioni suits, and Dr. Martens. It was the peak collaborative moment in a year full of them, and one that seemed unlikely considering Vetements’ biggest hit, under design leader Demna Gvasalia, has been a sweatshirt blatantly ripping off the Champion logo. But it was about time brands realized that it’s better to play along than get played.
6 Balenciaga Made an Ikea Bag for Fashion Ballers
When he’s not making waves at Vetements, Demna helms legendary French house Balenciaga, and he’s brought some of his low-meets-high fashion tricks along. While he’s never formally acknowledged that this hyped-as-hell oversized leather Balenciaga blue tote bag has its roots in a certain, mass market, affordable furniture retailer, anyone who has ever tried to assemble an impossible-to-pronounce end table knows where they’ve seen this bag before—and how downright practical and awesome they are.
7Haider Ackermann Headed to Berluti
Not every designer change-up matters—sometimes bringing in a flashy name is just a marketing stunt that rarely sticks. But Haider Ackermann is the real deal—a designer who’s spent years creating his own luxurious circus-ringleader-in-Boca-
8Quiet European Brands Broke Out
2016 brought with it a designer heat wave across the Atlantic. Who would’ve thought that 69-year-old Margaret Howell would have turned out the coolest (and youngest) Fall collection at London Fashion Week? Or that old-school family-owned Missoni would become one of the most buzzed-about brands in men’s fashion with an insanely on-point psychedelic collection? Not to mention Raf reasserting his pre-eminence in men’s fashion with a post-apocalyptic varsity vibe that was as influential as it was oversized? Meanwhile, Scandinavian brands Acne Studios and Our Legacy proved that they can take on any brand, whether streetwear or high fashion, in a rumble. And somehow creative director-less Ferragamo absolutely smashed 2016 (as Jared Leto demonstrates above in his GQ Style cover shoot).
9Gucci Embroidered Everything
Of course, we would be remiss not to mention the year Gucci had—2016 really belonged to Alessandro Michele and his romantic, elaborate vision. As a result, we saw Gucci-like embroideries everywhere, from Bally and Dries van Noten to streetwear brands and any number of DIY projects—and we’re not mad. Sometimes you see what you want to see, sometimes you see what you simply want.
10 Everyone Wore the Same Prada Shirt
If there was one fashion item that everyone wanted this year, it was this $1,000 Prada camp shirt. With printed graphics by French artist Christophe Chemin, the shirts hit a summery nerve, and were spotted on pretty much everyone throughout the warm months: Kanye, Harry Styles, Raf Simons, Virgil Abloh, and hordes of fashion insiders. (Oh, and Robert Downey, Jr. in the pages of GQ Style.) In a year of ups and downs we can always count on Miuccia to deliver.
11 Raf Simons Paid Tribute to Robert Mapplethorpe
We know, we know: The penises. But believe it or not, they’re not what’s so shocking here. Rather, it’s the fact that one of fashion’s most innovative designers made the entire collection a tribute to one artist, the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The result was part fashion, part photo exhibit, and a little bit of shock value.
12Velvet Was Cool
This year, almost overnight, velvet jumped from black tie to everyday staple: suits, trousers, bombers, shirts, sweatshirts, and even sneakers all got the plush treatment. And it was awesome. Haider Ackermann and Burberry sent velvet down the runway while Supreme and OVO sold out velour tops and pants. Suddenly everyone wanted a cozy velvet fit—us very much included.
13Justin O’Shea Held the Shortest Stint Ever as Creative Director at Brioni
In the annals of surprise appointments and swift dismissals, none rival the rise and fall of Justin O’Shea at Brioni. When the hard-partying Australian designer was appointed earlier this year to re-vamp the luxury tailoring house, the former womenswear buyer wasn’t even a designer yet; one Metallica campaign, one collection, two floor-length chinchilla coats, and six months later, he was riding his Harley into the sunset. We just wish we’d gotten to see whether it’s possible for one man to pull off a complete 180 with such a storied brand. Oh well. Consolation prize: It’ll be interesting to see what direction both parties—O’Shea and Brioni—take next.
14 The Fashion Industry to the First Lady-Elect:
After eight years of the First Lady being the darling of the fashion industry—remember when Michelle O wore Thom Browne to President Obama’s second inauguration?—Melania Trump is in for a chillier reception. Though some designers, like Browne, have said they’ll dress the First Lady no matter who it is, others, like Marc Jacobs and Humberto Leon have forcefully urged their colleagues across the industry not to. Perhaps the harshest put-down came courtesy of the always-legendary Tom Ford: “She’s not necessarily my image…”
15 Ceramics, Crystal, Candles, and Other Home Goods Were the Next Frontier of Style
As men are increasingly getting into fashion, other areas of taste are coming into play as well. Men aren’t just drinking the same old booze, but rather trying to put together the perfect home bar, crystal included. They’re trying to find artisanal scents that don’t come from a mall, whether it’s cologne, candles, incense, or even crazy potpourri scent-rocks. And don’t even get us started on ceramics which, if not yet your new obsession, absolutely should be ASAP. 2016 was a banner year for all advanced home goods, and we plan to continue to pack the pages of GQ Style with this stuff in 2017. To come along for the ride, subscribe here.
16Yeezy Started off With a Banger and Ended With a Brick
Two of 2016’s most memorable fashion shows were courtesy of Kanye West, but for very different reasons. Yeezy Season 3 was a blowout of epic proportions—not only were the clothes his best yet, but he debuted The Life of Pablo for thousands of hyped fans (and kicked off the Great Merch Craze of 2016 in the process). Season 4 was a different story. Held on Roosevelt Island, the show turned into a slow-motion car wreck as the models, who had been standing in the sun for an hour before the show, began to drop one-by-one. Then several girls couldn’t walk in the shoes. (One attendee even helped carry a model to the finish line.)Let’s hope Kanye goes back to the album release party formula for Yeezy Season 5.
17Vineyard Vines Got Kind of Hot
Is 2016 the year Vineyard Vines became the Supreme of the South? It all started with this Gram posted by Virgil, above.Four Pins ran with it, turning the Double V into a meme that dominated menswear Twitter for an eternity (i.e. a day or two). We just hope this doesn’t mean a new generation of hipsters is going to start wearing clothes ironically—that era sucked, and was rightfully left behind.
18Belgian Shoes (And Prep?) Came Back
The preppy look has taken quite a beating in the last few years, and the genre of salmon shorts has mostly deserved it. (Hey, we’re not saying Vineyard Vines should bust out of its lane.) But one of our favorite new brands, Noah, has taken preppy staples like Sperrys and needlepoint belts and reintroduced them to the downtown NYC style scene. And this year we also discovered that a few of our favorite NYC designers (including Brendon Babenzien, the guy behind Noah) have turnedBelgian Shoes into incredibly fresh statements of personal style. Don’t place your bets on prep roaring back on 2017, but don’t laugh it off just yet.
19Despite the Internet, A Lot of Dope Stores Opened
Amid talks of retail slowdowns, 2016 was a great year to shop. New York alone saw the openings of a beautiful Boglioli store, a much-needed Drake’s pop-up, the firstStone Island store in the states, a beautiful new R.M. Williams shop, an expanded Blue in Greene boutique, as well as new flagships from Adidas, Nike,Moncler, and The North Face. Meanwhile in LA, menswear mecca Magasin opened its doors, and the iconic Sid Mashburnhit the left coast with its first store outside the South.
20 Morrissey Beefed With Supreme
For over a decade New York based streetwear label Supreme has been putting pictures of celebrities wearing Supreme T-shirts on T-shirts. (Kate Moss, Lou Reed, Mike Tyson, and even Kermit the Frog are among those to have held this honor.) But this year, the drama of Supreme’s celeb tee was less about kids trying to get their hands on one, and more about a celebrity trying to get off one. That would be Smith’s frontman Morrissey, who said that he was morally opposed to the brand after discovering its past White Castle collaboration—though Supreme itself said the issue had more to do with money than anything else. In the end, the commotion only made the tees even more covetable, and of course they sold out almost instantly.
21Goyard Called Out DJ Khaled
Speaking of fashion brands beefing with celebs, famed French leather house Goyard flamed DJ Khaled on Twitter for wearing what they thought was fake Goyard. (The jacket was indeed after-market, but made with genuine Goyard scarves.) Luckily the story had a happy ending. The two parties publicly made up, presumably after Goyard looked up Khaled’s account.
22Jeremy Scott Still DGAF and it Was Awesome
Jeremy Scott occasionally takes his outlandish designs to the max simply for the sake of doing so, but his wild pop-art tribute for the Fall 2016 Moschino collection was without question one of the coolest and most fun things any fashion designer did all year. It was so good, in fact, that we shot him in his own masterpiece for our Fall issue coat portfolio.
23 Covergirl Hired its First Coverboy
James Charles, a 17-year-old with a massive following on Instagram, just became the brand’s first male ambassador — marking a bold move for one of the cosmetics industry’s biggest players.
For the first time in its history, Covergirl introduced a Coverboy—as in, they made a teenage YouTube star by the name of James Charles the face of their new campaign. In a year when gender in fashion was questioned in multiple ways, from the runways of Gucci to the endless coverage of Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits, Covergirl’s move was a sign that while girls can do anything boys can do—sometimes, boys look damn good in makeup.
24The Track Suit Revival
Usually associated with Sopranos extras and 1970’s tennis stars, 2016 saw track suits become one of the simplest ways to be cozy and cool at the same time. And it wasn’t just the high-end versions from brands like Burberry they got the nod of approval from the fashion elite. At every price point, including OG tracksuit purveyors like Adidas to new-school cool kid brands like Palace—the two brands even collabed, above—and Gosha Rubchinskiy, there was a stylish option for men to channel their inner McEnroe.
25Cross Body Bags: Yup
The crossbody bag for men has been a cultural punching bag since Jerry Seinfeld famously called it a “European carry all.” But in 2016, Supreme and Palace made nylon versions sported by skaters and hypebeasts alike, while style influencers like Virgil Abloh began hauling around a small Louis Vuitton bag for holding his gear during DJ sets and cross-continental flights. The benefits are obvious, but don’t get rid of your pockets just yet—there’s still nothing more emasculating than riffling through your little bag to find your wallet while at a checkout counter.