Gilded Age designer Stefan Miljanic has a theory about speed. "Everyone loves going fast," he says. "Kids, adults -- we all have the same smile on our face."
And so his fall menswear collection was an homage to the restless, dare-devilish style of racers. He wasn't the only designer revving into high gear. The menswear runways in Europe last month were full of military looks, and that trend continued here during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week as well.
Gilded Age, the cult label known for its artisanal denim, offered motorcycle jackets -- one of Gilded's models even appeared in the presentation on his own motorcycle -- and sweaters with racing stripes across the chest or down the sleeves.
At Rag & Bone, stripes swept down the sides of Harris tweed herringbone pants, while at DKNY Men, models stood at attention like stylish recruits, decked out in bombers, biker jackets and coats with puffer linings and detachable hoods.
Hilfiger, with an assist from consultant Simon Spurr, showed leather motorcycle pants, adding extra horsepower to preppy staples like peacoats or herringbone blazers.
Of course, the news wasn't all NASCAR. For his own brand, Spurr went with lean suits and blazers reminiscent of Edwardian London, but with modern touches, like an exploded houndstooth print. Alabama-based Billy Reid also got dressier, jettisoning denim. "We're trying to elevate the collection," he said post-show. "Our guys are cleaning up a little."
You can't get more modern than John Bartlett, who was one of three winners of the second annual Council of Fashion Designers of America/Lexus Eco-Fashion Challenge. His "future-rustic" collection is true to the cruelty-free cause. Made with organic cotton, suede-like recycled microfiber and vintage blankets, it's almost entirely made in the United States. Said the new vegan, "Sustainability is sexy."
Arms and the man: Designers can't leave sleeves alone: DKNY showed quilted zip-front jackets with knit hood and sleeves, Simon Spurr designed leather sleeves on wool blazers and coats, navy sleeves on a gray sharkskin double-breasted blazer, and crocodile sleeves on a gray cashmere topcoat. And Tommy Hilfiger tweaked basic wool overcoats and blazers by adding quilted leather sleeves.