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Neil Barrett wanted to try something he’d never done before this season. Barrett, the man who pioneered luxury sportswear decades before the word “athleisure” existed, wanted to try his hand at florals. He wanted to make flowers masculine, so he exploded them across his tees, clashed them with gingham and dissected them in his shirting.
He also injected bright flashes of color into his collection, but in a way that suited his customer, who loves all things monochrome. Neil Barrett collections are razor sharp — he designs like a surgeon uses a scalpel — and there’s always an interplay of sport and tailoring in his work. “I always work with uniforms” Barrett explained backstage. “Sportswear is the uniform of the 21st century.”
That’s probably explains why NBA mega-star James Harden sat front row at his show, and why Barrett offered up his own takes on the two biggest trends in the sneaker world right now: sock-like silhouettes, and exaggerated runners.
Flight jackets — a military uniform staple — were proposed in leather but also high-spec performance fabrics, while Barrett offered up one of the season’s most convincing takes on the must-have bowling shirt, this time in supple, all-black leather.
In a world ruled by enormous logos and even more enormous Instagram buzz, Neil Barrett’s collections can feel a bit, well, quiet, but when he puts clothing this precise on the runway season after season, you can’t help but be impressed.
For more from Milan Fashion Week, feast your eyes on Francesco Risso’s oddball creations for Marni.