LONDON (AP) — Womenswear and accessories like handbags may be the mainstays of the luxury goods market, but right now menswear is where the growth is at.
That appears to be true, at least, for British luxury brand Burberry, which showcased its latest menswear designs in London on Tuesday after a decade in Milan.
The move brings the brand's menswear division in line with its womenswear branch, which has led the London Fashion Week circuit with glitzy, celebrity-studded shows for the past few seasons. It also signaled a new focus on menswear, which the brand has reported to be its fastest growing product division in the past year.
"It's an ever-growing category — the business is doing extremely well," the brand's design chief, Christopher Bailey, told The Associated Press after the show. "Men are enjoying fashion more than ever. (They're) actually caring about the way they're looking, smelling and feeling."
The brand joins other top industry players, including Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen and Paul Smith, which are also showing menswear this week in the British capital.
Bailey said his new spring collection for Burberry is inspired by painter David Hockney and writer Alan Bennett, both famous names in British culture circles. But Bailey's vision of British elegance is not at all like the traditional Savile Row tailoring that the country is famous for.
Tuesday's catwalk was dominated by casual outfits that focused on whimsical layering and unexpected color combinations: Denim blue and turquoise with lavender, or teal and mustard with navy. Tailored dress shirts were worn one over the other — the outside one doubling as a light jacket — and shirts with large polka dots clashed with striped, narrow ties.
Trousers were slim and ankle-grazing, worn with colorful boat shoes or suede loafers and no socks, and models carried slouchy leather bags in bright red, yellow or blue.
"I like that idea that you can be very sartorial but very slouchy as well," Bailey said.
The show, in London's Kensington Gardens, drew tennis star Serena Williams and British singer Tinie Tempah to its front row and appeared to be well-received by guests.
"It's got a very modern feeling and is very delicate at the same time," said Tiziana Cardini, fashion director at Milan's La Rinascente department store. She added that while Milan is more established as a menswear capital, London is also starting to gain recognition with Burberry's move there.
Best known for its military-style trench coats, Burberry reported in May that while womenswear and accessories remained its biggest earners, menswear outperformed the others in growth last year, achieving a 13-percent revenue increase.
A British Fashion Council report in 2012 suggested that menswear now accounts for half of the luxury wear market, helped in part by male consumers in emerging markets, especially China.