At the gym, at the weekend or on holiday, on the ski slopes or at the beach, men are making the most of their down time to wear bright colours.
In just a few minutes, they completely change. Lots of businessmen swap their dark suit for brightly coloured sportswear when they stop off at the gym to burn off a bit of excess energy on their way to work, on their lunch break or after a day at the office.
A similar colour shift occurs for most men as the weekend approaches.
In the USA, this contrast with the sombre looks at the start of the week is already apparent on Friday mornings, and this sartorial phenomenon has come to be known as "Friday wear", which also manifests itself in outfits that are more casual in terms of cut and style.
Boys aged 7 to 77 years old (and even more) also love bright colours when they head to the mountains, whether it be to swoop down the slopes in winter or to conquer the highest peaks in summer. And don’t let’s forget trips to the coast, where their shorts, polo shorts and swimwear go right off the scale in terms of colour.
In many ways, brightly coloured outfits are an indication of leisure time and holiday vibes. When they head back to school or work in September, many will keep a discreet souvenir of this sunny interlude in the form of a fluorescent trinket tied around the wrist. When it's not the summery fabric strap of their usual watch that stays in place to catch the eye at the end of a sleeve, or even a brand new colourful timepiece that they fell in love with during the summer.
In 1983, the world of watch-making witnessed the arrival of the Swatch brand, which had identified this desire for colour in consumers. The launch of this little Swiss brand, which quickly became a major player in the sector, reflected the trends of the time, embracing the euphoria of the 80s through the use of (overly) vibrant colours.
Twenty years earlier, in the early 1960s, strong colours had already symbolised the start of a new era, a new page in terms of style and clothing. Fashion designers André Courrèges and Pierre Cardin, along with Mary Quant on the other side of the Channel, sketched their first futuristic designs in bright colours. And their creations where made available in standardised sizes. This was absolutely revolutionary during a period when people still visited their local seamstress or tailor for new clothes.
The prêt-à-porter concept was imported directly from the US, as were the synthetic and artificial fabrics which made up the garments. Oil-based, these new fibres rendered colour pigments with more vibrancy and, as a bonus, they were easier and cheaper to produce. And so bright colours, which had until then been the reserve of the well-off, became accessible to larger numbers of consumers. And were immediately adopted by the younger generations who saw change, modernity and a certain freedom in these bold shades...
Sixty years on, colours are no longer specific to a certain style or age bracket. At the heart of fashion, they vary from one collection to another. The only thing that remains constant with the passing of the seasons is that men continue to reserve colour for particular moments, when they find themselves far from dress codes and diktats and are free just to be themselves.
Text: Frédéric Martin-Bernard
Photo : Mariya Georgieva Unsplash