At New York Fashion Week, menswear designers keep it loose

#NYFW: Menswear designers stay on the athleisure track with loose fits, relaxed outlines

Not only have menswear designers embraced the fact that, given the choice, most of us would wear sweatpants 24/7, but during the fall men's shows at New York Fashion Week, it appeared that the race was on to create the ideal comfy equivalent for the upper body, with designers putting a full-court press on what the apparel industry refers to as the "athleisure" trend.

While no single garment emerged to be as clear a front-runner as the now-ubiquitous sweat trou from the fall and winter 2014 shows a year ago, there did seem to be consensus that guys will be looking to pay good money for something relaxed and roomy — voluminous even — that hits the sweet spot of utility and luxury.

One option was a loosened-up version of the bomber jacket, like the style with oversized flap pockets and flared wrists that was part of Adidas' collaboration with rapper Kanye West. Another was the poncho-with-attitude, which Skingraft draped into its Peruvian-nomad-inspired collection along with roomy drop-crotch trousers, thick cowl-neck puffer vests and tapestry-stripe toggle-button coats.

Billy Reid's rustic luxe lineup included a poncho or two as well, but it was the focus on fabric that made the Alabama-based designer's jackets, coats and cardigans serious contenders, specifically a basket weave design in cashmere that looked winter-weight rugged but moved like a summer breeze. If there's one menswear label from the week that's poised to capitalize on the current trend, it's Reid, whose collection included super-slouchy wide-wale corduroy trousers and trench coats, diamond-quilted track pants and dinner jackets and shearling panel vests.

A couple of labels seemed to arrive at the altar of athleisure almost serendipitously. One of those was Lacoste, whose "Royal Tenenbaums" retro tennis romp was a homage to the brand's namesake founder and offered up outerwear options such as boldly striped notch-lapel car coats and raccoon-style coats reminiscent of a bygone era rendered in brown teddy bear fur. Another was Robert Geller, whose collection was inspired by a pair of Olympic fencing brothers from the 1920s, Aldo and Nedo Nadi, and included oversized coats resembling those that fencers would traditionally layer over their uniforms.

Simon Miller may well have set the bar for artisanal athleisure by offering a gray sweatsuit in a felted cotton/wool loop terry that felt like the tightly coiled but super-soft wool of a newborn lamb. The fabric also made its way into the button-out leather-trimmed lining of an oversized duster coat — a lining that was beautiful enough to wear on its own.

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