When it comes to men’s accessories, the needle can be slow to move — especially when leather is involved. Traditional shapes and familiar fabrications have dominated collections for decades, adhering to strictly masculine codes of dress. Over the last few years, however, men’s fashion has entered a new era of freedom, most notably since Alessandro Michele was appointed the creative director at Gucci in 2015 and made feminine flourishes like ruffled collars and Mary Janes staples of his men’s wear collections. Now, flashy and imaginative bags, footwear and watches have become commonplace on boutique shelves and city streets alike.
For fall 2022, Jonathan Anderson at Loewe sent out drawstring clutches with metallic bases in the shape of conch shells, while Simon Porte Jacquemus at his namesake brand showed an envelope-like leather pouch that was strapped to a belt on the model’s waist. In his debut at Bottega Veneta, the designer Matthieu Blazy applied the house’s signature technique of intrecciato, in which strips of leather are woven together, to an original silhouette: two unlined bucket-shaped compartments containing removable drawstring pouches that were joined together by a cord and slung over the shoulder like a bindle.
Not every development in handbags involved bold innovation. In recent seasons, designers such as Michele at Gucci and Demna at Balenciaga have included archival women’s styles — the stately, crescent-shaped Jackie and the studded, strappy Motorcycle, respectively — as part of their men’s offerings. This season, Fendi joined the trend when Silvia Venturini Fendi presented a black-and-white checked wool version of the brand’s iconic Baguette bag, paired during the show with a matching shirt.
The influence of classic bag designs could also be seen in men’s footwear. At Hermès, Véronique Nichanian incorporated the signature butterfly clasp of the house’s storied Kelly bag as a buckle on a pair of white leather derbies with chunky soles. The derby, defined by the shoelace eyelets sewn on top of the vamp (as opposed to beneath it, like the oxford), has long been ubiquitous in men’s collections, perhaps most notably at Prada, where co-creative directors Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada’s popular iteration features a rubber shell that wraps around the upper, resembling an overshoe. This fall, Kim Jones riffed on the style at Dior Men, where the shoes were adorned with brooch-like constellations of crystals.
Precious stones have been a mainstay of women’s watches; in fact, some recent offerings have come completely encrusted in jewels. For men who want to get in on this trend, which hasn’t quite made it to their section of the store, shopping women’s styles makes the hunt easier. Swiss watchmakers, from Rolex to Audemars Piguet, offer many options for those who prefer their timepieces covered with enough gems to rival a princess’s tiara. One iteration of the former’s Day-Date 40, for instance, features two sapphires and eight baguette diamonds in addition to its diamond-set bezel and dial. TAG Heuer has also turned up the sparkle: Its 29 mm Carrera Date in rose gold and steel comes with over 700 pavé diamonds, for a total of 3.9 carats. No detail on the timepiece is spared the luxury treatment, from the mother-of-pearl dial to the sapphire crystal in the caseback. Its luster is a reminder that, whether one is drawn to diamonds or derbies, there have never been so many ways for stylish men to shine.