‘Is it real, is it not real?’: this season’s conceptual menswear moments

From Loewe’s light-up LED vest and plughole-covered bags to the imaginative flights of Virgil Abloh’s swansong at Louis Vuitton, a conceptual mood permeates the A/W 2022 menswear collections

Male model in Loewe A/W 2022 menswear translucent coat with light-up vest underneath
Left, jacket; top; shorts, all price on request, by Loewe. Right, cape with cap, £2,352; dress, £835, both by Raf Simons
(Image credit: Photography by Benjamin Pexton, fashion by Jason Hughes)

‘Who are we? Where are we going? Is it real, is it not real?’ said Jonathan Anderson after his A/W 2022 menswear show for Loewe, a collection which indeed inhabits a surreal realm: a vest is illuminated with glowing LED lights, rubber boots arrive in bulbous proportions, jackets and handbags are covered with metal plugholes as if transplanted from a kitchen sink (the latter reminiscent of American sculptor Robert Gober’s riffs on the domestic, which take the familiar and make it strange, much like Anderson’s work). 

A/W 2022 menswear: conceptual moments

Shoes on red background with cut-out circular holes

Shoes, part of the Off-White c/o Church’s collection, £1,200, by Church’s and Off-White

(Image credit: Photography by Benjamin Pexton, fashion by Jason Hughes)

It is a reflection of a conceptual mood which permeates the menswear collections this season, where everyday garments are reimagined with unexpected results. A classic Church’s loafer is sliced with holes – designed to recall those in found Swiss cheese or the craters left after a meteor storm – part of a collaboration between the historic shoemaker and Off-White (the partnership was first teased in the late Virgil Abloh’s final collection for the brand, marking one of the designer’s last fashion collaborations). When worn, they offer a playful glimpse of sock – or foot – beneath.

A Louis Vuitton bag with climbing wall hold embellishment

(Image credit: Photography by Benjamin Pexton, fashion by Jason Hughes)

At Raf Simons, a cap is melded with a cape, inspired by a hooded figure in a 16th-century painting by Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder, refracted through the Belgium designer’s always contemporary lens (he worked on the design with legendary milliner Stephen Jones). Abloh’s swansong at Louis Vuitton perhaps best encapsulates A/W22’s imaginative flights – handbags fashioned to evoke paint pots, bunches of leather flowers, or dotted with coloured ‘holds’ like those found on a climbing wall – where surreal fashion reflects surreal times.

A version of this article appears in the November 2022 issue of Wallpaper*, available in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple News +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today!

Fashion Features Editor

Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*, joining the team in 2022. Having previously been the digital features editor at AnOther and digital editor at 10 and 10 Men magazines, he has also contributed to titles including i-D, Dazed, 10 Magazine, Mr Porter’s The Journal and more, while also featuring in Dazed: 32 Years Confused: The Covers, published by Rizzoli. He is particularly interested in the moments when fashion intersects with other creative disciplines – notably art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and reporting from international fashion weeks. Across his career, he has interviewed the fashion industry’s leading figures, including Rick Owens, Pieter Mulier, Jonathan Anderson, Grace Wales Bonner, Christian Lacroix, Kate Moss and Manolo Blahnik.