For fall, men's fashion is revisiting the past. From the Peasant Boy to the Pilgrim Look, the Amish to the American Indian, old world is the new word in menswear.
Reaping ideas from the American immigrants, the Dust Bowl and the Italian countryside, designers are pointing to humble origins instead of stuffy roots. Although their appeal is historical, these styles aren't about tradition, they're about nostalgia.
Nostalgia involves more than just a look. It's romantic; it has a feel. To impart a sensibility of realness and substance to clothing, designers are relying heavily on texture.
In fabrics, nature-toned tweeds, herringbone, heathered weaves, corduroy and patchwork have an authentic, down-to-earth quality. And in sweaters, boucle, chenille, and poorboy ribs provide the same feel. Suede and leather also are important. Pieces often are layered, worn-looking or oversized. Think Tom Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath," Atticus Finch in "To Kill A Mockingbird" or a character from the movies "Days of Heaven" and "Paper Moon."
"We re-create garments that lasted people through the good and bad years, and which survived as hand-me-downs," says Lance Karesh, designer for Basco.
These clothes are made to feel comforting as well as comfortable.
Dolce & Gabbana can be credited with beginning this old-world revival with the peasant boy look from their fall 1990 men's collection. Inspired by fellow Sicilians and by Italian neo-realist cinema, Dolce & Gabbana created their line for the man who is sentimental, sensitive AND passionate and who has a strong fashion personality.
In the kinder, gentler '90s, perhaps this mix of strength and vulnerability is what makes these clothes so appealing.