‘Things are not what they seem’: Unpacking the S/S 2025 menswear shows

Wallpaper* fashion features editor Jack Moss explores the trends and takeaways from this season’s menswear shows, from an embrace of ‘irrational clothing’ to couture-level craft and eclectic new takes on tailoring

JW Anderson S/S 2025 runway show
JW Anderson’s S/S 2025 show, which the designer described at ‘irrational clothing’
(Image credit: Courtesy of JW Anderson)

A freewheeling mood took over this season‘s menswear shows, seeing designers embrace the ‘irrational’ and the eccentric with colourful, experimental collections which in the heat of Florence, Milan and Paris captured summer’s uplifting energy. Indeed, designers from Rick Owens to Rei Kawakubo, Sabato De Sarno to Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, spoke of a shift towards hope and optimism, albeit tentative. ’I want to hope for some light, even if very small,’ said Kawakubo, while Owens called his hundreds-strong runway cast his ’white satin army of love’. Meanwhile, the looming Paris Olympics – and its message of global unity and personal tenacity – was unavoidable, seeing preparations transform the city as a backdrop to both the menswear and haute couture shows which followed.

After the shift in recent seasons towards quiet, understated luxury – and the undeniably safe collections this often yielded – it felt like a refreshing re-emergence of men’s fashion month, which thanks to blockbuster shows from the likes of Pharrell Williams at Louis Vuitton is shaking off any suggestion of its demise. Here, we unpack the S/S 2025 menswear shows – from ’irrational’ clothing to couture-level craft and eclectic new takes on tailoring.

Nothing was what it seemed

Prada S/S 2025 menswear show

Prada’s S/S 2025 menswear show, which featured illusory details like in-set trompe l’oeil belts

(Image credit: Courtesy of Prada)

‘Truth and pretence, the real and the unreal.’ So began a Prada collection which saw Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons urge the viewer to look closer, ‘to question the actuality of what we perceive, to reconsider, to look at things closer’. Staged amid a ‘fairytale ravescape’ – whereby models emerged from a vertiginous white cabin, which before the show had been blaring techno music – this was a collection of illusions, from belts that were in-set into trousers to trompe l’oeil Breton striped T-shirts, or trousers which appeared to be made from tailoring wool but were actually printed cotton. Elsewhere, shirts under sweaters or cardigans were constructed as a singular garment. ‘Viewed from afar, pieces can pretend to be other,’ said the designers. ‘Details may seem simplistic, naïve, but up-close, physically, perceptions transform.’ It was disorientating fashion, for disorientating times, where even the appearance of reality is no guarantee (just prior to men’s fashion month, Meta introduced a label for Instagram and Facebook which tagged images that had been ‘made with AI’). And trompe l’oeil would appear throughout the season: at Acne Studios, denim was adorned with plastic chains, stacks of belts or printed rips and tears, while at Loewe, what looked like a cable-knit sweater was actually hand-painted fabric. ‘Things are not what they seem,’ said creative director Jonathan Anderson.

Designers embraced the ‘irrational’

JW Anderson S/S 2025 Guinness Jumper

A Guinness-adorned sweater from JW Anderson’s ‘irrational’ S/S 2025 collection

(Image credit: Courtesy of JW Anderson)

Indeed, earlier in the month in Milan, the Northern Irish designer presented an equally illusory collection for his eponymous label JW Anderson. ‘Irrational clothing’, he described, noting that he was inspired by the free association of hypnotherapy (‘Inhale. Exhale. Are you feeling dreamy? Maybe a little delirious?’ read the accompanying notes). It made for a typically idiosyncratic outing – from enormous knitted house coats to Guinness-adorned knits and protrusions of coloured fabrics – which in part drew its liberated mood from viewing young people at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound festival. ‘The experimentation with clothing among younger generations is incredible,’ he said. ‘The eye has changed within menswear and within womenswear. People want something that is really challenging.’

This desire was echoed across the season, as menswear designers eschewed any notion of ’quiet luxury’. Martine Rose, who showed for the first time in Milan this season, adorned her stomping cast with prosthetic noses and tangled wigs, while at Rick Owens – undoubtedly a highlight of the season – the designer staged a Hollywood epic on the forecourt of Palais de Tokyo. There, his hundreds-strong ‘white satin army of love’ marched out in an arresting array of looks, from monastic hooded gowns and laddered jersey bodysuits to sculptural capes made from tarnished gold Japanese denim (‘megacrust’ is how Owens playfully described the technique). The showstopping spectacle was a celebration of fashion’s liberatory spirit, one which Owens likened to escaping his hometown of Porterville, California and running away to Hollywood. ‘[It was] the boulevard of vice I gleefully ran to to find my people, [the] weirdos and freaks.’

Craft was couture level

Loewe S/S 2025

At Loewe S/S 2025, intricate metal chainmail and shell-adorned tabard tops were part of Jonathan Anderson’s veneration of craft

(Image credit: Courtesy of Loewe)

At a preview for his latest Dior Men collection – which was inspired by the South African ceramicist Hylton Nel – Kim Jones noted a growing desire from his consumers to have something entirely one-of-a-kind. ’People want something that nobody else has got,’ he said. It was part of the reason he introduced his first dedicated couture collection for men last season and, while his S/S 2025 show in Paris did not have any official couture pieces – he has said he will create a couture collection only once each year – one particular jacket took over 600 hours of hand-embroidery to complete. A similar veneration of craft came at Loewe, where intricate tabard-style tops were crafted from woven metal or delicate shards of shell, an echo of the extraordinary 'caviar' beaded pieces from his A/W 2024 womenswear collection where each of the thousands of tiny beads were embroidered by hand. Equally seductive was the simplicity of Norbert Stumpfl’s latest Brioni collection, shown in the serene gardens of Milan’s 18th-century Palazzo Borromeo d'Adda. There, his ongoing quest for lightness – a signature of his tenure at the Italian house – was formulated in the collection’s fabrications, which spanned featherweight wools, supple perforated leather and airy vicuña knits. Most spectacular, though, was the eveningwear, where one double-breasted dinner jacket was embroidered with 10,000 baguette beads, each one hand-knotted in silk thread.

But there was still a slice of reality, too

Auralee S/S 2025 runway show

Auralee S/S 2025, which saw Ryota Iwai celebrate the pleasures of real clothes

(Image credit: Courtesy of Auralee)

If the enthusiasm for ‘quiet luxury’ has tempered in recent months, there nonetheless remained an appetite for the particular pleasure of real clothes – perhaps best epitomised in Paris by Auralee, Ryota Iwai’s Tokyo-based label which celebrates ten years in business this year. In its relative normality – there were no tricks here, just sweaters, jeans, and the like – it was impossibly desirable, the type of collection which makes you want to throw out your entire wardrobe and start again. It is down to Iwai’s exacting but uncomplicated approach, where tactile, meticulously sourced fabrics (Peruvian Alpaca, Mongolian cashmere, New Zealand wool, Indian cotton) meet a sensitive, considered palette (this season: pale green, red, buttercup yellow) which makes it anything but boring. ‘People put a lot of pressure onto their clothing, perhaps hoping to make a huge statement but I’m more interested in how smaller changes can highlight something about the wearer,’ Iwai told Wallpaper* prior to the show.

There is nothing normal about Hermès – and yet, despite Veronique Nichanian’s dedication to painstaking craft and truly luxurious fabrications, her collections end up feeling entirely effortless, and even thrown on. This season, she said she wanted to evoke ’a sweet summer’, and as ever there were plenty of real-world clothes here: breezy Oxford shirts, blouson jackets and bowling-style knits – in a palette of blues and pale pink – would fit into any man’s wardrobe. The same goes for Dries Van Noten, who has made a career of instilling the quotidian with a louche romance. His final show – earlier this year Van Noten announced he would be leaving his namesake label after 38 years – was a celebration of this, presenting a final collection which captured the designer’s distinct eye for colour and tactility. For this, he will be missed. ’This is my 129th show; like the previous ones, it looks ahead. Tonight is many things, but it is not a grand finale,’ he said. ‘Creating is about leaving something that lives on.’

The suit is still ripe for reinvention

Gucci S/S 2025 menswear show

Gucci’s abbreviated riff on the suit, shown as part of the house’s S/S 2025 collection

(Image credit: Courtesy of Gucci)

Each season, it feels like there is a diktat on the suit: it is double- or single-breasted, narrow or full, cropped at the ankle or pinched at the waist (as such, it often deemed emblematic of the season’s mood). For S/S 2025, though, there was little consensus, except that the suit remains ripe for reinvention, as designers across the board riffed on the garment in differing and distinctive ways. At Loewe, the show opened with razor-sharp black tailoring, evocative of the uniforms of security guards or gallery attendants. ‘This is my own interpretation of precision,’ said the designer, who noted inspiration from the ‘singular’ creative vision of figures like Paul Thek, Peter Hujar and Susan Sontag, whose work populated the show space. But there was illusion at play here, too: the fabric, a woven silk mohair, was designed to hold its shape with an almost-spongey finish. ‘These are things [that] are incredibly difficult to do but that which when you see them it feels effortless,’ he said.

There was experimentation of a different kind at Junya Watanabe, where the Japanese designer’s paean to denim included classic wool tailoring spliced with the fabric for an intriguing hybrid. Meanwhile at fellow Japanese label Comme des Garçons, Rei Kawakubo’s Homme Plus collection contained plenty of tailoring cut in the designer’s cerebral manner, whether sliced-apart tailored jackets adorned with ruffle-like collars, or those out of which flashes of vividly coloured lining emerged. Colours were equally vivid at Issey Miyake Homme Plissé, where double-breasted blazers, waistcoats and ties were crafted from the brand’s signature lightweight knife pleats in crisp shades of green, orange and blue. Entirely crease-resistant, and undeniably easy in their roomy, stretchy silhouettes, they will prove a useful companion next summer. And, for the brave, so too will Gucci’s super-abbreviated tailored short shorts, part of a youthful S/S 2025 collection which creative director Sabato De Sarno said was inspired by the ’freedom, energy [and] community’ of surfing.

Sportswear was given an Olympics boost

Louis Vuitton S/S 2025 menswear

(Image credit: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton)

Even for the most sports-averse, it was near-impossible to avoid the looming summer of sporting events ahead on menswear’s European tour – whether the Euros (which Emporio Armani hosted screenings of in both Milan and Paris), or the Olympics. The latter, taking place in Paris later this month, felt particularly prescient, not least because Parisian luxury goods conglomerate LVMH is one of the event’s principal sponsors. Unsurprisingly, then, Pharrell Williams evoked the Olympic spirit at his third menswear show at Louis Vuitton, which was held at Maison l’Unesco and made a plea for global unity and community (in fact, if you squinted, you could see the Olympic rings adorning the Eiffel Tower in the distance). ‘[It is] the celebration of human athletic prowess,’ said the designer, who featured several football kits adorned with ‘LVFC’. Meanwhile, at Wales Bonner, the British designer continued her successful collaboration with Adidas Originals, which here featured a shimmering sequinned version of the brand’s Samba sneaker, alongside slouchy basketball shorts and hoodies, striped polos and – most memorably – a pair of three-stripe swim trunks. And at Gucci, Sabato De Sarno’s surfing inspirations made for a collection of sleek, graphic menswear in sporty, luminous tones – including one of the season’s most covetable accessories: sunglasses on fluoro straps, worn like chokers around the neck.

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.