A label can have all the money and power in the world, but if they’re not catering to what the people want, they’re simply going to be left in the dust. Sure, some brands deftly manage to avoid this season-by-season trend struggle (we're looking at you Supreme), but those are the exceptions that prove the rule more than anything else. The brands that mattered this year tapped into the ideas and concepts that made guys everywhere want to update their wardrobes and get a piece of what everyone is talking about.
The top trends of this past year—as dictated by the influence of celebrities, cool kids or designers themselves—have directly affected what we’re seeing on store shelves now and what will be there in the the near future. From the deluge of skate-focused brands making waves in high-fashion boutiques, to the red carpet ‘fits from our favorite award shows, the year would not have been as stylish as it was without these clothes and the people who wore them. We’re not telling you what to wear, we’re just here to show you what’s been popping. These are The Best Trends of 2015.
Upscale sweatpants have become such prevalent rungs on the #menswear ladder that they’re almost as ubiquitous as denim at this point. This permeation of the cozy boy classic reached peak, widespread acceptance in 2015. While true athletics-oriented companies like adidas and Nike have dominated the market due to excellent quality for price, that hasn’t stopped designer brands from getting their own slice of the action. There’s John Elliott, whose Escobar sweats are an unofficial founding father to the designer sweatpants trend, and there are also the truly top-dollar designs of Givenchy, Maison Margiela, and even Yeezy Season 1—still sweatpants, just at prices that reach eight, nine, or even 10 times higher than that trusty pair of Tech Fleece sweatpants you wear around the house. If you still don’t believe the hype, let us point you in the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose $1,425 Loro Piana sweatpants are one half of a $3,200 sweatsuit. Sweatpants may have been trending for a couple years now, but 2015 is when sweats turned the corner from athleisure into Putin-endorsed “ath-luxury.” It’s up to you whether or not you work out in them. —Gregory Babcock
Euro Athletic Style
The lads are back in town and they want you to be dressed from head to toe in slim training gear made for the football pitch or the track around it. The jogger pant is running on empty, but the tapered track pant and jacket combo has its eyes set on taking over that prize. A$AP Rocky knows this, and Skepta knows it, too — as do the many stores that have adjusted to the fact that athleisure isn’t going anywhere. It certainly helps that the adidas name was on everyone’s mind this year, but plenty of other brands got in on the action, as well, bringing us new interpretations of a look that we previously associated primarily with either club-going New Jersey residents with a monthly allowance for hair product or soccer hooligans across the pond. There’s a way to do this track-ready style without looking like a Tony Soprano stand-in, though. Mix the pieces up with other casual staples to water it down, in case anyone mistakes you for someone who's about to challenge them to either a fight or a 40-yard sprint. Just make sure you have three stripes on the shoes. —Skylar Bergl
Only Drake could alert us all to the fact that turtlenecks are back and better than ever. People made fun of his oversized grey sweater in the “Hotline Bling” music video, but 2015 saw a little bit of modesty come back in vogue. Hide those clavicles people, it’s time to make our sweaters into a mobile home, just like the animals they’re named after. Whether they were delicate, thin turtlenecks from high-end labels like Haider Ackermann or Rick Owens — the kind designed to be worn under yet another sweater — or something a bit more substantial and chunky like the Acne Studios model Drake made famous, turtlenecks have brushed off that college English professor connection and found a new lane for the fashion-forward man. And, if your aversion to scarves is exceedingly strong, they’re definitely a welcome, functional addition to your wardrobe throughout the winter. —Skylar Bergl
Military Surplus Gear
Was it just us or did nearly every clothing company out there make a fishtail parka this year? Whether they were slimmed down and brought up to the modern day, or kept baggy to stay true to the original source material, it seemed like military-inspired garments, and especially military-inspired outerwear, found a new life in 2015. Military garb has and always will be a strong reference point in men’s fashion, and for good reason; the archives of material available are enormous, and there are more than enough details to pick and choose from. So, whether it was a direct correlation to Kanye’s influence or not, military pieces were impossible to miss this year. MA-1 bombers crossed over from stylish staple into ubiquity, the aforementioned fishtail parkas found their way into so many brands' collections, and N-3B snorkel parkas turned a corner away from the Canada Goose joints the swagless Wall Street accountant wears over his ill-fitting suit. Camo, the quintessential military element, may have lost its place as the trend du jour, but designers have shifted their attention to military outerwear in its stead. —Skylar Bergl
Skatewear (for Non-Skaters)
Don’t worry about knowing how to ollie before you throw on that Bianca Chandôn T-shirt or that Dime dad cap. Skate-inspired sportswear was a style foundation in 2015, with brands like Supreme and Palace cementing their unstoppable status even further and creating a crossover appeal that had even the most skate-averse cracking open their wallets to get a piece. Younger and lesser-known brands like Brain Dead, Polar Skate Co., and others burst into the wider menswear consciousness in their own respective ways, too. You could argue that, at times, Dover Street Market’s T-Shirt Shop looked more like a skateshop than an international luxury retailer.
By now, skateboarding has proven to be just as deep a well of sartorial inspiration as any other sport; whether it’s inspiring a runway collection, like in the work of Gosha Rubchinskiy, or just a canvas for an established label, like Emilio Pucci, to play with. —Gregory Babcock
When Justin Bieber walked the American Music Awards red carpet in a shredded pair of jeans—capped off with a now-famous Nirvana T-shirt by Jerry Lorenzo and Fear Of God—he was just giving us the latest taste of a trend we’ve noticed all year: people’s wardrobes are getting stressed out. From stripped and ripped denim to the overwashed sweaters, hoodies, shirts, and trousers of Yeezy Season 1 and Yeezy Season 2, it seems like even your wardrobe needed some time to get faded in 2015. We know that years gone by have attached distressed designs to the mall-brand antics of American Eagle or Abercrombie & Fitch. But, when every cool guy brand from 424 to Our Legacy features apparel with some level of fading, distressing, and wear, it's safe to say the trend has transitioned out of the aughties. Sure, if you’re trying to be an adult, maybe you should take a step back from clothes that have more holes than your body does. But, if the broken down gear you're wearing is inspired by youthful rebelliousness, is that such a bad thing? —Gregory Babcock
Normcore may have been 2014’s most Google’d trend, but one element from that fad that not only survived, but flourished, throughout 2015 is the baseball cap — alternately known as the dad cap. Embroidered, soft-topped, round-brimmed, adjustable caps (still worn by the least style-inclined fathers) were this year's item to customize or leave blank. The iterations were countless, from smaller brands like Dime to OVO's "Woes" and “How’s My Mixtape?” caps, to the classic Nike swoosh and generic, no-logo joints found in any Canal Street tourist shop. The look has widespread appeal, rocked by everyone from Rihanna and model Luka Sabbat, to Jaden Smith, Travi$ Scott and longtime dad cap devotee Dev Hynes. The most popular colors were white, black, denim and baby pink. Looking good has never been so basic. —Rae Witte
Lest you think 2015 was all about the Bieber-style oversized shirt and skinny jeans combo that’s been dominating Los Angeles’ increasingly influential men’s fashion scene, look for a counterpoint courtesy of A$AP Rocky, Virgil Abloh and our Number One Style Icon (Rat Tail Division) Shia LeBeouf. Each of these gents have been spotted throughout the year wearing their T-shirts tucked in. Maybe it’s another holdover from last year’s normcore phenomenon, or maybe it’s a little Euro influence floating its way across the Atlantic, but the retro-flavored style has been making the rounds on a diverse assortment of men not usually associated with one another from a fashion perspective. Honestly, when else would you conceivably mention Wiz Khalifa and Justin Theroux in the same breath, other than if you were looking for weed backstage at the People’s Choice Awards? With that varied appeal, could the tuck go full mainstream in 2016 and bring us all together under one '90s-tinged banner? Doubtful. But that’s probably why you’ll continue to find the look worn by men’s style trailblazers from all walks of life well into the new year. —Steve Dool
The idea of men wearing women’s clothing may be difficult for some to understand, but gender lines were definitely not a barrier in 2015. Across the board, guys dressed a little more femme (with longer, drapey silhouettes) and women dressed a little more masculine (especially with help from brands like Vetements and Lemaire, who recently collaborated with Uniqlo).
Praise the Young Thugs and Jaden Smiths of the world for bringing this to the attention of the masses. Both of these guys realllly pushed the gender boundaries this year. Thug wore a dress on his Dazed magazine cover, admitted that 90 percent of his wardrobe is women’s clothing, and generally just DGAF. Smith proudly went to Topshop to cop some
girl clothes clothes and rocked a skirt.
Celebrities aside, brands and retailers also tapped into this trend. Acne played with gender-based conventions for both its Fall/Winter 2015 and upcoming Spring/Summer 2016 collections, the former of which featured Acne’s founder’s 11-year-old son modeling women’s apparel in the campaign and included men’s pieces emblazoned with patches that read “RADICAL FEMINIST” and “GENDER EQUALITY” alongside androgynous silhouettes. And in a significant move this past March, Selfridges brought gender neutral sections to its stores and online. —Karizza Sanchez
You don’t have to be yelling from the sidelines to see the reasons why coaches jackets were one of the most commonly-seen styles in 2015. Situated somewhere between a windbreaker and canvas chore coat, the traditional nylon outer on most coaches jackets make them ideal to block gusts of wind on unseasonably chilly days. With most snap closures and a comfortable fit, its design details are what’s helped make it a staple amongst skaters and spectators alike. This year, the coaches jacket enjoyed a life beyond the locker room, with skate brands like Brain Dead and Supreme and designers like Acne Studios and Needles getting a piece of the action, along with customizers like Eric Emanuel. Who cares if you’re carrying a clipboard? Coaches jackets are some of the most versatile transitional outerwear in the game today (pun possibly intended). —Gregory Babcock
Remember how designers and so-called fashion authorities have been telling you for the past decade to slim down your pants and wear skinny jeans? Well, in 2015 they said, “just kidding,” and swung the pendulum in the opposite direction. Pants went wide this year, trading in the ubiquitous peg-leg silhouette to give your bottom half some room to breathe. The push for bigger proportions wasn’t only coming from high fashion brands like Lanvin and Bottega Veneta, who are comfortable experimenting on the runway; mid-range designers like Steven Alan and fast fashion heavyweights like Topman also hopped on board, making for a quick-moving trickle-down that suggests the trend could actually have some—wait for it—legs. And if you need more proof that there are guys out there who think the time is right to make a significant wardrobe change, 2015 also saw the revival of the widest of wide jeans from the '90s: JNCO, back in all their 32-inch-opening glory. —Steve Dool
Vintage Band Tees
Complex named rap tees one of the trends that took off in 2013, but similar styles exploded in 2015, too. Celebrities like Big Sean and Nick Young were spotted year-round rocking decades-old tees with Tupac, The Notorious B.I.G., and R&B legends like TLC, Sade, and Toni Braxton on the front.
It wasn’t just rap tees that were huge this year, though. Guys like Justin Bieber and Kanye West were heavy into rock T-shirts from bands like Nirvana and the Ramones. Even Jerry Lorenzo made a business out of printing Fear of God on old rock tees, which were blessed with a Bieber co-sign. And there’s clearly a market for this outside of the realm of celeb style, too; walk into any vintage store, and you're likely to find old gems on sale for hundreds of dollars. —Karizza Sanchez
Experimental Hair Colors
Undoubtedly, Kylie Jenner has been exerting a significant influence over trends for women with her minute-by-minute hair color changes uploaded to Instagram and seen on Snapchat daily. But, is she also to thank/blame for the men who got in on ever-evolving, brightly colored hair? We're not saying she is, but we're also not saying she isn’t (ahem, Tyga). While Vic Mensa, Future, OG Maco and Bieber opted for shades of bleached blonde, Wiz Khalifa, Zayn Malik and Jared Leto took it a few steps further: Wiz started the year with purple dreads, Leto one-upped Kim K’s bleached blonde look, later rocking pink and neon green, and Zayn Malik took a similar route. Even Chris Brown got involved, swaying from his typically blonde hair to blue early in the year for a Grammy party. It’s unclear whether this trend will hang on in 2016, but as long as no one takes it back to 2000 and ends up with a Sisqo-style, sprayed-on metallic dome, everything should be just fine. —Rae Witte
Another year, another reminder of how incredibly popular bomber jackets are. This time around, we saw designers push beyond classic reproductions, with several labels taking their own crack at the classic MA-1—mixing up everything from fabric used to the silhouette itself. Take the bomber by TAKAHIROMIYASHITA The SoloIst.; worn by A$AP Rocky and Kanye West, the jacket adds suede to the traditional nylon outer shell, exuding an undeniably upscale twist. Fear Of God (who, if you're reading this list, you can see has had a killer 2015), Clothsurgeon, Acne Studios, and Carhartt W.I.P. all used the military classic as a starting point for exceptional outerwear, as did traditional suppliers like Alpha Industries. H&M, Uniqlo, J.Crew, and Zara all produced reasonably priced bombers to help make the trend more accessible than ever. Considering it’s one of the most functional, versatile jackets you can buy, it’s no surprise that this is the three-season piece of choice for dudes across the nation. If you didn’t own a bomber jacket before 2015, chances are you own one going into 2016. —Gregory Babcock
The fashion industry’s obsession with sneaker culture didn’t waver in 2015. If anything, the line between the two cultures has never been more blurred than it is right now.
If 2014 was the year for all-white sneakers, this year saw a new crossover trend taking hold in both industries: tan sneakers. From Common Projects’ khaki Chelsea Boot to the neutral colorways of Kanye West’s adidas Originals Yeezy 350s and 950s, tan footwear quickly became a staple. Even adidas’ Stan Smith, the darling of all sorts of fashion types, experimented with the trend by teaming up with Horween Leather Company to produce a collection of all-tan sneakers.
At the forefront of the trend was arguably Japanese designer brand Hender Scheme, which took some of the most recognizable sneaker designs and reinterpreted them as high fashion goods made from vegetable-tanned leather. It’s a style that even Jordan Brand coincidentally—or not—borrowed when it released its “Vachetta Tan” Air Jordan 1 Pinnacle, a premium $400 leather sneaker that, like Hender Scheme’s models, develops a one-of-a-kind patina with wear.
Like black and white footwear, tan makes a statement with its simplicity. It’s a trend that we see becoming a staple for both fashion and sportswear long after 2016. —John Marcelo