If it looks new, take it back. Spring '88--though given to extremes in tight, body-baring play clothes--will outfit the mainstream man in the most battered and baggy sportswear in years.
And you thought the frayed fad was over.
Not quite. Consider the outlook at trendy Seattle-based Code Bleu, which bolts from anything so normal as a crisp, identifiable color.
"We've made 27 shades of overwashed denim," says President Mel Matsui, labeling his blasted, sort-of-pastel line the Albino Extract collection.
From mud-washed madras to "happy-pucker" pants (the latest in crumpled seersucker), the new spring clothes should "feel like old friends," said Bob Rayon of L.A.-based Direction, among about 2,000 garment manufacturers represented at two major trade shows in recent days: the California International Menswear Market (CIMM), at the California Mart, and Men's Apparel Guild in California (MAGIC), at the L.A. Convention Center.
"People's lives are so complex, it's nice to look at a garment and not be confused," said 27-year-old Derek Federman of BUM Equipment, which makes un- macho baby-pastel street sweats.
Even International News, a past bastion of blaring graphics, has turned restful with pale, easy-fitting sportswear. The old prints, said President Michael Alesko, were "loud and potentially intimidating."
At Motto of Seattle, a husky Jerry Koski is so convinced that men are tired of self-improvement that he's sized his line full and baggy--for men who aren't strict about fitness but want to pretend they are.
"You have to watch all the time what people are doing--and they're eating garbage food now and then," Koski proclaimed.
Yet much of the new activewear requires less junk food, more nerve in a wearer. The cycling fad has spawned a whole skintight school of pants, shorts, tank tops and turtlenecks, as well as a graffiti-covered wet suit by Jimmy Z of Los Angeles.
The midriff also will peek from under square-cut crop tops--a crossover fad from women's wear.
Be forewarned, too, of a higher, cinched waistline--the result of a European fad reaching the States. After seeing Frenchmen wear oversize, hiked-up jeans last year, Michael Lee and Gail Reisman of L.A.-based Pazzo gave much of their spring fare this high-rise, baggy shape.
In dressy sportswear, it's the Elliot Ness fit. Some refer to this broad-shoulder, nipped-waist style as an Italian-inspired "international
silhouette." L.A. based Shang-Hai makes the playful zoot suit mixing broad andnarrow stripes. Another L.A. firm, Hoopla by Michael Antari, started a new division called ETC this year, which combines unconstructed sportswear shapes with more formal fabrics such as rayon, silk and linen.
Southern California's surf wear firms--usually prone to the bright and raucous--are in a prewashed frenzy for spring. Jimmy Z leans toward muted grays, blacks and khakis, "tougher street stuff," said founder Sepp Donahower.
"Our customer has gotten more sophisticated since we started three years ago."
Poster images and Australian chic also have reached the surf market. Platypus of San Diego takes aboriginal art and adds a surfboard to the scene. Monsters, Felix the Cat and Frankenstein are favored characters at Life's A Beach of Carlsbad.
Inevitably, the diner craze has hatched a New York-based Diner Sportswear line, whose faded gray and pastel prints look as if lifted from '50s Formica-top tables and linoleum floors.
Stan Trimm and Jana Boss journeyed from Houston to push their new Surf Tale line. They arrived at the California Mart in twin-like sleeveless tuxedo shirts, bow ties and surf trunks that dip long behind the leg. "We like to make an entrance everywhere we go," said Trimm, noting he created the trunks-with-tails concept for a party.
"We think it's going to sell," he said hopefully. "This is our first attempt at anything ."