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MILAN (Reuters) - Designers at the Milan menswear fashion week blended timeless cashmere coats with edgy leather jackets for next winter, reinventing styles to gain space in men's conventional wardrobes.
Italian menswear fashion has been hit harder than womenswear by the global crisis, particularly suits and ties.
Sistema Moda Italia, an industry body, estimates that turnover in the sector will remain flat in 2011 for a second year in a row. Sales were around 8.3 billion euros ($11.12 billion) in 2010.
At Ferragamo, designer Massimiliano Giornetti mixed tradition and modernity, showing knits with leather details, cashmere sweaters and white casual-chic suits.
"The elements that comprise a man's wardrobe don't vary that much over time. So to evolve you have to reinvent what you already have," Tomas Maier, creative director at Bottega Veneta, said in a statement. His collection featured knits and washed, aged leathers.
Double-breasted jackets and equestrian details were seen at Gucci, where designer Frida Giannini used costly materials such as crocodile.
Form-fitting suits recurred in many collections for the autumn/winter 2011/12 season. At Costume National, jackets were worn with soft sweaters rather than shirts and ties -- a trend of the season.
Buckling the trend, Giorgio Armani opted for more gentle forms for his total-grey collection, which included longer jackets and roomy trousers.
"Men look all the same. They need to rediscover their personality," Armani told reporters backstage at his Emporio Armani youth line show.
Roberto Cavalli went for a 1970s look, with men in velvet and suede suits. Trousers flared at the bottom and were paired with American-style pointed boots.
Big shoulders, oversized tops and bold geometric patterns were key at Prada, whose two-floor salon drew rave reviews.
The fashion house, which is mulling going public on the Hong Kong bourse, also featured lurex garments and rubber-soled shoes.
Casual was banned at Versace, which returned to Gianni Versace's historic palazzo to present its multi-layered, iconic collection. Leather belts wrapped the body and turtlenecks showed three-dimensional effects.
Dolce & Gabbana painted denim and washed wool jackets so that they would shrink and fit the body in a youthful, upbeat collection.
Accessories at Ermenegildo Zegna, which used cutting-edge film technology for his China-inspired collection, included iPad shoulder cases and combat-type boots.
Writing by Antonella Ciancio