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Utility Meets Softness: Key Menswear from the US Men’s Fall/Winter 2023/24 Runways


Men’s fashion is embracing both rugged utility and a more progressive, gender-fluid aesthetic this season. In this report, we’ll explore the top directional themes spotted across major US apparel brands and retailers. The key takeaways: workwear staples like chore coats and carpenter pants are having a major moment, while pretty pastels and floral prints signal the rise of #SoftMasculinity. Sustainability also takes center stage through recycled materials, regenerative farming initiatives, and pre-loved offerings. Read on and dive into the details across menswear bottoms, tops, accessories, and more.

Table of Contents:
1. Workwear jackets & pants anchor fall collections
2. Pastels and florals soften men’s offerings
3. Sustainability steps for apparel brands
4. Oversized bottoms and higher waists
5. Varsity sweaters and rugby shirts channel #NewPrep
6. Dark denim shirts riff on western looks
7. Final words

Workwear jackets & pants anchor fall collections


Utility and workwear themes are ubiquitous across major American apparel brands this fall. The core silhouettes of the chore coat and cargo pant are modern classics that brands can’t help but revisit each autumn. This season, the workwear staples get updated with fresh colors, weatherproof fabrics, and innovative details.

For jackets, the short chore coat remains a bestseller for its practical storage and throwback work vibe. Brands like Lee and Dockers offer the style in earthy olive greens and browns, with flap pockets and button closures that feel both durable and nostalgic. For something more protective against the elements, waxed cotton and faux leather coats add weather-resistance. Details like side-entry pockets streamline the silhouette.

On the pants front, carpenter jeans and cargo trousers dominate. Loose, relaxed fits allow for ease of movement, while slim and tapered options balance the workwear look with modern tailoring. Utility features like double-layered knees and multiple pockets add authenticity. To keep things fresh, brands explore warmer hues like goldenrod yellow or forest green twill. Finishings like rip-and-repair patches and ombré dips reference denim heritage.

Overall, timeless workwear silhouettes feel revitalized with updated colors, fabrication techniques, and considered design details this fall. The chore coat and cargo pant offer both fashion credibility and functionality, making them reliable hits with male consumers looking for everyday staples.

Pastels and florals soften men’s offerings

soft colors and floral prints

While rugged utility dominates men’s fall apparel, many brands are also embracing a more progressive aesthetic through soft colors and floral prints. This movement towards gender-inclusive design and self-expression is being called #SoftMasculinity.

Sweet sherbet tones like pale pink, lilac, and mint green lend a romantic vibe to menswear essentials. Instead of expected navy suits or black denim, men can explore more playful alternatives. Tailored pieces like trousers and blazers feel refreshed in airy pastels. Similarly, all-over floral and paisley prints on shirts and jackets allow guys to tap into their creative side.

This softening of menswear expands the definitions of masculinity. No longer limited to dark, neutral hues, the men’s section now accommodates lightness and vibrance. Details like ruffled cuffs, lace trims, and embroidery add ornamental flair often missing from male garb. While still subtle in application, these feminine touches offer men more room for personal style.

Brands ease into this shift through small seasonal capsules or collaborations first. Madewell partners with Edie Parker on a ’70s-inspired collection with floral prints. PacSun taps singer Cuco for laidback hoodies and pants in pale lilac. Levi’s Made & Crafted line features a pink trucker jacket modelled by rising musician Myles Clohessy. As male consumers respond positively, expect to see more pastels and patterns coming soon.

Sustainability steps for apparel brands


Today’s apparel brands understand the need to operate more sustainability across the production cycle. Various initiatives aim to reduce environmental impact through renewable materials, transparent manufacturing, and recycling programs.

Some brands are improving their supply chains through regenerative agriculture, which enriches soil health and absorbs carbon. Madewell plans to use 12% regenerative cotton for its fall collection. Similarly, eco-friendly dyes and recycled polyester bring sustainability to manufacturing. Dockers uses a waterless process to color its khakis, saving H2O waste.

Post-consumer, recycling gets a makeover via renewed vintage collections. Carhartt’s Reworked line accepts used gear in exchange for gift cards to purchase reworked secondhand pieces. Levi’s Vintage Clothing also mines the brand archives for reissued 501s and truckers. Consumers increasingly want environmentally friendly and unique garb.

Transparency represents another shift, as brands share their sustainability challenges. Levi’s admits only 24% of its goods qualify as “sustainable” presently. But public goals like using 100% sustainable cotton by 2025 provide a roadmap. Communicating efforts, shortfalls and all, builds trust.

Though strides have been made, brands must continue improving human rights, resource use, and manufacturing ethics. Shoppers reward those taking tangible steps now while pushing for necessary systemic change.

Oversized bottoms and higher waists

oversized bottoms and higher waist

For fall bottoms, the tailored trouser gets a relaxed remake with roomier fits and pleated fronts. After seasons of skinny cuts, the expanded volumes feel fresh.

Wide-leg pants in quilted cotton or wool flannel add a loungewear vibe while remaining polished enough for the office or a night out. Pleated trousers evoke ’90s style with ample legs and a higher waist. Chainstitched hems or cuffs finish the silhouette.

On the denim front, bags relaxed and loose-fitting jeans provide laidback alternatives to skinny legs. Lightwashes add to the casual appeal. Styled with chunky knits and boots, the slouchy jeans channel an effortless cool.

Higher waistbands also elongate the body for a flattering shape. Buck Mason and Dockers offer trousers hovering near the natural waist. The retro rise gives a nod to old-school menswear.

For those who prefer a contemporary slim, tapered pants are the compromise. Madewell, Levi’s and Dockers taper legs from the knee down, balancing a trim leg with a comfy top block. Stretch denim or jogger sweatpants maximize mobility.

In either oversized or tapered fits, young male consumers appreciate comfort while exploring new proportions this fall. The expanded bottoms selection allows for both personality and ease when assembling a wardrobe.

Varsity sweaters and rugby shirts channel #NewPrep

collegiate wear

Heritage preppy styles get modern updates this fall across knitwear and wovens. Varsity cardigans, rugby shirts, and collegiate prints tap into a nostalgic #NewPrep vibe.

Chunky shawl collar cardigans in wool or cotton lend a scholarly vibe, often featuring leather elbow patches or university insignia. Striped ribbed trims finish the varsity jacket-inspired layering piece. Similarly, the rugby shirt’s thick horizontal stripes and contrast collar feel both retro and modern for the season.

Collegiate-inspired motifs also appear on knits and fleeces this fall. Sweaters may depict varsity letters, school crests, or slogans like “Class of 2023.” Fuzzy mascot prints offer school spirit in a playful way. The preppy styles blend into athleisure and streetwear for a well-rounded assortment.

To balance out the novelty motifs, brands also deliver wardrobe staples like V-neck sweaters, knitted vests, and polo shirts. The muted neutrals effortlessly pair with jeans, trousers, and outerwear for easy outfitting. Madewell, Dockers and Brooks Brothers lead the polished prep offerings.

By blending quirky novelty with timeless pieces, retailers cater to various male consumers seeking nostalgic yet relevant looks. The smart collegiate styles work for heading back to school or adding personality to one’s adult wardrobe.

Dark denim shirts riff on western looks

dark denim outfit

Dark indigo denim shirts are a key component of fall’s rugged Americana aesthetic. Bleached out light blues are replaced with inky shades evoking the Old West.

Silhouettes range from classic snap button-ups to camp collared overshirts. The sturdy cotton fabric lends durability, while the faded black wash provides versatility. Guys can wear the denim tops layered under jackets or solo with the sleeves rolled up.

Clever design details further the Western appeal. Ombré dip-dyed gradients mimic a sun-faded work shirt. Resin coatings create a worn leather-like finish. Topstitching and paneling reinforce key areas like the yoke and cuffs.

Brands also explore new denim shirt fits such as anorak pullovers. The hybrid jacket provides insulation when worn under a jacket. Some styles riff on the denim chore coat as well.

dark denim

Overall, deep indigo denim shirts provide a cornerstone piece for this fall’s Americana menswear. The darker washes distinguish from standard light blues for a more rugged and modern look. Young male consumers can blend these statement tops throughout their casual wardrobe.

Final words

This fall, commercial brands are taking cues from high fashion’s exploration of workwear and gender-bending design. While utility staples like chore coats and carpenter pants cater to practicality, softened colors and prints allow for self-expression. Sustainability is also key, with recycled materials and transparent production processes that reduce environmental impact. Use these insights to inform your buying and merchandising strategies across menswear categories. Focus on wearable staples with a ruggedly stylish edge, while testing out progressive #SoftMasculinity in small capsules. Remember to communicate your own brand’s sustainability practices as well. Stay tuned for more retail coverage and insights to guide your men’s ranges in the seasons ahead.

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