Mostly But sometimes maybe

by Long Nguyen

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SWEN cotton sleeveless sheath tank and cotton drawstring pull-on pants and CHRISTIANLOUBOUTIN leather ‘brian’ flat boots.

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ÉTUDESSTUDIO tropical wool single-breasted jacket, cotton print tunic, and cotton print pants and PIERREHARDY suede desert boots.

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PIGALLE PARIS cotton hooded long sweatshirt and satin long shorts and CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN leather ‘discretos’ sneakers.

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ANDREACREWS cotton nylon print hooded long sweatshirt and cotton nylon print pants.

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MELINDAGLOSS wool print jacket and wool pants.

Mostly But sometimes maybe

Let Us Sow That Route With Flowers

“Our aesthetics come from the combination of Western urban culture and the traditional African and Middle Eastern dressing.  Our multicultural heritage is the starting point of our creative process that celebrates the strength and beauty of diversity,” Steven Jacques says of the foundation of Swen, a men’s label he founded with design partner Swann Amdéo now in its second season.  After a chance meeting on the terminus subway platform in Châtelet central Paris in 2012, Steven, a French-Senegalese, and Swann, a Portuguese-Algerian, formed Swen—a merging of their first names—as they shared a vision of translating their own way of living amidst hybrids of cultures into clothes that are means of individual expressions.

“We combine the classic codes, loungewear and sportswear. The clean lines and structure are very important; comfort and fluidity are essential. Both raw and sophisticated, traditional and modern, our collections are a clothing response to today’s world in constant evolution,” Swann says. Swen’s debut Fall 2015 collection featured dark khaki loose turtleneck heavy cotton shirt and black wool pants, long white cotton thawb and black knit funnel neck top, or double-layered cotton shirts and cropped large satin pants. The black thick satin elbow sleeve tee worn over knee-length white cotton long sleeve kaftan and white cotton drawstring tubay pants was one of the strongest looks—a look that synthesized crisp Parisian urban style with an Arab flair.

Swen, Pigalle, Melindagloss, Études Studio, Andrea Crews, and Officine Générale are, at their core, personal projects envisioned by each designer with specific concept and a sartorial language stemmed from a desire to communicate their own experiences through clothes, not from referencing fashion’s history.  In the last few seasons in Paris, the paradigm in men’s fashion has shifted to favor these new pioneering young designer voices who launched their own collections anchored deeply with personal aspiration and individual fashion vision.

These new independent startups—with small collections that raised the creative standards—put a brake on the ubiquity and status quo of the luxury mass branding model favored by industrial fashion houses.  Stéphane Ashpool opened a store in Pigalle in 2008 stocking Japanese and Parisian brands, then developed the label Pigalle inspired by the styles from the mixed quartier of Pigalle using a variety of fabric from hand dyed silk to patchwork suedes making the clothes mostly in France.  A 2014 Nike collaboration cemented Pigalle as Paris’ center of gravity for urban style. Prior to winning the prestigious Andam Prize this past July, Ashpool decided to control the brand’s growth to maintain a certain level of exclusivity, quality and energy vital to his Pigalle brand.

Male customers are beginning to search for less branded designer clothes, perhaps as a reaction or an aversion to the branded garments.  Maybe this  phenomenon will make these unfamiliar names much more common.

Photographer: Nicolas Wagner at nicolaswagner.com.

Style Director: Long Nguyen

Model: Djavan Mandoula, Florent Cadieu, Francis Villalva, and Yannick Mabille for successmodels.com, paris, Mehdi Douache for 16Men.com paris, and Quentin Hubert for Elitemodel.fr, Paris.

Groomer: Odile Jimenez at odilejimenez.book.fr.

Location: Hôtel Particulier Mont martre, Paris at hotel-particulier-monTMartre.com.

GroomingNotesHermèsVoyage d’Hermès Moisturizing Face and Body Balm.BumbleandbumbleBb Holding Spray, and Bb Thickening Creme Contour.