Neil Barrett Spring 2022 Menswear Collection

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To celebrate the new sense of optimism developing amidst the loosening of lockdowns, Neil Barrett’s crew decamped to Milan’s Idroscalo amusement park to shoot his look book. “We had such fun,” he said at a showroom appointment. “We really enjoyed putting this collection together—there’s such a need to socialize, to be out again, to feel free.”

Impeccably tailored, utilitarian urban uniforms are what Barrett excels at; he’s an intelligent designer whose offer is focused, compact, and neat in its luxurious clarity. For spring, he gave himself the freedom to explore a softer, livelier creative side—broadening his chromatic spectrum, introducing graphic prints, and getting inspired by nature, dance, and music festivals. “The joy of movement and freedom,” he began, “places where people come together and have a great time, like Burning Man or the Tulum music festival.”

Abstract renditions of flying dancers, cacti, and wild desert animals were jacquard-ed on sweats or printed on boxy, slightly rigid workwear-inspired shirts; gradients of military green and blue counterbalanced a hushed palette of beige, ivory, and black. “After two seasons of neutrals, I really wanted some color,” he said. But he did it his way, using three tones of blue and green, with a few accents of soft pink.

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To enhance the sense of movement, construction was roomy, rounded, and comfortable, but lines were kept diagonal and ergonomic. Capacious utilitarian pockets were treated decoratively, cut slightly curved on an elongated military jacket, or patched irregularly on an oversized field jacket for a fresh take on a popular army-surplus template.

During the pandemic Barrett diversified, adding contemporary price points adjacent to his signature high-end tailored options. The move has proved successful, not least of all because of a series of collaborations with specialized brands: Eastpak for travel and body bags, American outerwear manufacturer Alpha Industries for down jackets, and the skate company Northwave for sneakers.

The lockdowns seem to have fueled Barrett’s drive and commitment to reengineer his company, energizing it with new vitality. There’s no time for Burning Man. “I’ve always wanted to go,” he said. “But the time is never right, as it’s held at the end of August. In August I usually have a relaxing holiday, to recharge before going back to work. And then at the end of your vacation you go to the desert to destroy yourself? It’s a no-no. Maybe I’ll do it in another life.”

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