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Fashion’s Take on Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism: the approach to uniform dressing that has come up time and again in fashion’s continued love affair with military-inspired clothing. Most recently, the SS16 and AW16 collections were awash with khaki and olive shades but for SS17 the trend has gone one step further, moving away from purely head-to-toe army looks to ones that incorporate utilitarian pieces into the everyday, with a slightly more polished update. Discover the best utilitarian-inspired SS17 collections for men and women below.


Since Public School’s Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow took over as co-creative directors of DKNY, the New York brand has undergone an exciting and street style-influenced revival. It didn’t last long though; the pair stepped down in December 2016, meaning designs under their direction are limited. For SS17, they put a utilitarian twist on their usual street wear with stiff shirting and technical nylon parkas in neutral shades. Shop DKNY on Coggles

Helmut LangHelmut Lang SS17

Helmut Lang is all about the minimalism – the simple tee exceptionally crafted and given a couple of subtle style details, or the loose sweatshirt that hangs just so. For SS17, the Austrian label applies this aesthetic to the utilitarian trend with parka tanks tops, military-inspired oversized hoodies and classic flights jackets. Shop the Helmut Lang women’s collection and men’s collection on Coggles.

MaharishiMaharishi SS17

Maharishi is a brand whose collections are famously built around military wear, using the styles to showcase its anti-war ethos. The Maharishi SS17 collection used Africa and the American and Chinese military presence on the continent as inspiration, with earthly colours, hand-painted camouflage print and long hooded robes. Shop Maharishi on Coggles.

MM6 Maison Margielamm6 maison margiela ss17

With its experimental, conceptual designs, MM6 Maison Margiela isn’t the first brand that springs to mind when it comes back to that pared back utilitarian style. But then that’s the beauty of MM6 - it’s unexpected. For SS17, the shirt was the unexpected centre piece, with styles that were long and oversized, or paired with clear plastic leggings and headscarves. It was utilitarian, but for a new generation. Shop MM6 Maison Margiela on Coggles.

Universal Worksuniversal works ss17

Universal Works does vintage-inspired workwear and utilitarian everyday pieces unlike anyone else. Inspired by the working classes in the 1970s, founder David Keyte mixes those hardworking utility designs with contemporary details – and the SS17 collection is no different. This season, inspiration came from revolution and beatnik poetry of 1960s America, resulting in a collection of khaki overshirts, boxy t-shirts and military-inspired trousers. Shop Universal Works on Coggles.

Shop the women's utility edit on Coggles here >>

Shop the men's utility edit on Coggles here >>

Sarah Atkinson
Sarah Atkinson Writer and expert

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