The Impression’s Take on the Fall 2023 Menswear Season

‘Fall 2023 Will be Remembered as the Season that Gave Men the Green Light to Get Dressed Again’ 

By Angela Baidoo

According to the menswear Fall runways, 2023 will be the year to double down on real clothes and get serious, while also adding in a dash of whimsy and soft fluidity that is neither feminine, nor masculine, but leans into the need to round-out the hard knocks from a world constantly teetering on the brink of disaster.

This menswear season also got back its identity, and more important than any experimentation with new ideas around fit or form, there was a strong vein of deep desirability running a course throughout all the shows this season.


A Season of Formality, Fluidity, and Readying for the Future

When we look at the men’s season as a composite, what do we see? A return to brand DNA, house codes and a deep reflecting on global events. This doesn’t mean settling on sombre suiting and utilitarian dressing, but more of a taking stock by the designers and luxury houses who presented their collections across both Milan and Paris. What is important now? What do we want to say as a brand? How have our customers changed and how can we now meet their needs? Were just some of the questions that designers have had to ask themselves of late, and the answers came in the form of balancing creative licence with candour. 

For those whom spectacle, performance, and challenging the status quo is woven into their brand DNA – Maison Margiela, JW Anderson, Walter Van Beirendonck, and relative newcomer KidSuper – the need to continue to resonate with the customer who expects the unexpected was paramount, even in the face of economic uncertainty. But for many designers showing on schedule there was a keen sense of responsibility to take the guesswork out of getting dressed each morning. Loose layering, a broad palette of warm neutrals (familiar yet forward-thinking when they strayed into the world of pretty pastels) which made up 87% of the collection at Fendi according to The Impression data, boxy silhouettes, more focus on the freedom of the bottom half (wide legs and maxi skirts abounded), and subtle updates through cosy textures of classic casual staples, were all seen at the likes of Dior Men, Auralee, Zegna, and Gucci.

There was also a collective coming around to the reintroduction of smart tailored separates as the suit, well the blazer at least, became the star of many a collection, and the fluidity of gender through the lens of fashion seemed to have a coming-of-age moment during the Fall 2023 season, as a dark feminine undertone rose up from Anthony Vaccarello’s Saint Laurent, sleek shifts ushered in a new shape to reference at both Prada and Loewe, and skirts took on maxi proportions at Etro, perfect for pairing with pants if needed. 

How Economic Uncertainty is Impacting the Burgeoning Menswear Market


The cautious outlook of high inflation affecting the growth of global economies and dampening consumer sentiment is affecting all corners of the fashion industry, from manufacturing to raw material costs, and store openings (and closures). It’s important for CEOs and Creative Directors alike to consider that despite all the talk (and inevitability) of a recession that will lead to an economic downturn, this is not the same as 2008, as reported by CNN “Goldman Sachs said it still believes the US economy will avoid a recession and instead move towards a ‘soft landing’ [or ‘slowcession’] where inflation moderates but growth continues”. While Moody’s Analytics says, “the more likely scenario is a ‘slowcession’, where growth grinds to a near halt but a full economic downturn is narrowly avoided.”. There is also the consideration that recessions will be staggered by region, will have different degrees of impact, and will see overlapping exits by country. Allowing those in the luxury space to plan and prepare to shift as the market does, and through embedding agility weather the oncoming storm.

Having dealt with disruption and economic turmoil for more than a decade, consumers are building in a deep resilience, and in-effect know the playbook by now, with the post-2020 effect seeing a number of them trading up as they cleared out their closets and re-upped with quality brands. Normalising change and the cyclical nature of economic downturns/recessions has meant the consumer has become accustomed to living with uncertainty and is managing accordingly. Which in some cases means ring-fencing their budgets for purchasing on luxury goods.

Stealth Wealth Meet Recession Dressing 

In 2023 it looks as if ‘Stealth Wealth’ will be joined by a new counterpart in ‘Recession Dressing’. Not to be confused with thrifting or recycling, this trend is about luxury brands eschewing the frivolous and returning to collections of elevated staples, paring back on over-the-top embellishment or trims, and dropping any sort of reference to overt logomania. Instead relying on developing clothes which create a buzz that can only be generated from finding and then securing a piece that you can truly love forever. Ami Paris gave us a refined version of lo-fi affluence with fluid tailored topcoats in ice-cream shades, and an aspirational real-world collection from Zegna saw an alternative take on the roomy silhouette with a focus on the artisanal handcrafted knitted sweater.

Hey Mayner

The versatility of the suit was reawakened this season, making up 20% of Dolce and Gabbana, 21% of Prada, and 20% of Zegna’s collections, according to The Impression data. But on taking a closer look the blazer was ushering in this new era of formality, worn long and loose, slopping across shoulders, or worn cropped and boxy. This hard-working shape, suits the hybrid-working model men are finding themselves navigating, working as a piece which can be dressed up or down, it is a year-round addition which transcends seasons and fashion fads.

Bottoms were also up, after a few years focussed on dressing for virtual meetings which only required a focus on ‘top-half’ categories, but comfortability didn’t mean elasticated waists and luxury lounge pants, but XXL wide fits from Kenzo and Hey Mayner.

Recession Dressing is about embodying timeless design and investing in an elevated wardrobe that speaks to items which can loved for a long time, and even passed down across the generations, and this season the trend was adopted by storied luxury brands and new names alike.

Gender Reveal

The growing acceptance of blurring gender lines means the menswear market will continue modelling shapes after those typically found within the womenswear collections. But having toyed with the trend for the last few years, with the queer narrative adding on a further layer of self-expression, these looks are on their way to becoming, if not the norm, but an expected feature during fashion month. And with the subtle erasure of the rules around who can wear what, and when, expect to see these changes making their way down the chain to retail in the near future – merchandisers take note. 


The look was both fun and ironic at Dsquared2, who reworked the lingerie camisole set and lace-trimmed underwear for the boys – tapping into the emergence of brands catering to men who desire a more delicate take on their ‘delicates’ – or diving into all thing Y2K, as both Ludovic de Saint Sernin and Jordanluca encouraged their customers to experiment with the sheer bodycon dress, the latter even applying the ubiquitous butterfly motif for good measure.

Meeting the needs of the man who is desperate to get dressed-up again, fluidity ascended to a new level of sophisticated statement dressing for the Fall season. At Saint Laurent Anthony Vaccarello cleared the path for a ridding of the ‘His and Hers’ pronouns and presented a collection that only spoke to the sensibility of good design. Whether worn on a form which traditionally favours the male or female of the species, Vaccarellos long, languid layers, glossy surfaces, and naval-grazing tops take the idea of gender fluidity to another plain. Dripping in a decadence that money can’t buy, seen at his women’s show in September, there was a sense of diving head-first into a different way of dressing and furthering the conversation around what fluidity will evolve into, in the future.

Dropping the Ball on Diversity

A sticking point for the men’s runways seems to be the continued lack of any inclusivity from a size perspective. The casting of male models still relies heavily on the pre-pubescent waif aesthetic, or the buff muscleman. 

The amplification (or objectification) of the male form was even more heightened this season as the bare chest made an appearance under coats at Marine Serre and at Prada where shirts were reduced to mere collars, extremely low necklines were seen at Gucci, it was a case of ‘Look ma! No top’ at Dolce and Gabbana, while a game of peek-a-boo at Dior Men, Fendi and Dries Van Noten involved sheer knits and chiffons, and at Ludvovic de Saint Sernin and JW Anderson the most minimal amount of clothing that modesty laws would allow were the order of the day. 


The men’s collections proved once again that the ‘Body Beautiful’ was only descriptive of one type of body. But among the sea of sameness were a few standouts, coming once again from the emerging talent who are disrupting the status quo by giving a voice to all who represent their brand community, and their customers. KidSuper, who gathered a cast of real people in the form of comedians to wear his Fall collection, LGN Louis Gabriel Nouchi whose casting choices were applauded and not simply because of the coup of getting Emily in Paris star Lucas Bravo and The White Lotus’s Stefano Gianino, and Doublet.

It is an anomaly as to why menswear designers, and especially those designers who develop both men’s and women’s collection – and have made strides to be inclusive of all body shapes in their women’s shows – haven’t recognised the value in meeting the needs of this under-served market, who also wish to see themselves in a belted tailored coat, cropped blazer, matching leather trouser set, and yes, even a chainmail mini skirt.