Cargo Utility

What item of clothing would you expect to come out of a collaboration between two local traditional menswear specialists? A formal jacket? A suit? When Matthew Lai of bespoke tailoring brand Kay-Jen and Alvin Gan, owner of classic menswear store Last & Lapel, teamed up recently, their co-creation was that classic signifier of male fashion cluelessness: cargo shorts.

Mind you, they were not your typical baggy, rumpled cargo shorts, but structured, pleated bottoms made from dark brown cotton canvas – complete with neat, oversized pockets near the hems. Shares Gan: “Having compartments for all my stuff is important. When I wear them during weekends, I can put my wallet and phone into my pockets and chase after my kids.”

(Related: Cartier is making its mark in the world of leather goods)

Their collaborative effort is reflective of a wider industry trend towards a certain elegant utility. So, yes, designers are giving you large pockets – all the better for storing mini bottles of hand sanitiser. However, they are not putting them on basic separates, but on elegant pieces such as a voluminous taffeta opera coat-style jacket (Dior Men) or a tan leather field jacket with intricate cut-outs.

To give you even more on-body storage space, brands such as Issey Miyake and Loewe are integrating garments with bags.

Aiming to create a Spring/Summer 2021 collection so compact that it could fit entirely into a box, Issey Miyake’s creative director Satoshi Kondo experimented with ways of folding and storing garments, resulting in pieces like a water-repellent coat that can be turned into a bag.

Loewe, on the other hand, proposes a funnel-neck calfskin jacket that transforms into a cross-body bag, complete with strap. Sounds crazy? At least you’ll have a practical use for your jacket should you take it off halfway into a day out.

(Related: Hermes’ latest men’s fragrance combines nature and technology)