Street Style

The Balaclava Is Fashion Week’s Must-Have Item

Photo by Selwyn Tungol | @selwyn.tungol

If you haven’t already, it’s time to get your hands on a designer ski mask.

Ski masks may be the last thing that comes to mind when one thinks of a fashion must-have, but the toasty accessory was spotted all across the past few fashion weeks, from Paris to New York. Balaclavas have long been a staple in colder climates (and heist movies), but this season the multipurpose accessory is getting a stylish update.

As with anything in fashion, everything is either trickled down or trickled up. The winter headgear certainly falls under the latter, graduating from practical use to appearances within certain subcultures like hip hop, where big-name celebrities and musicians like A$AP Rocky were spotted rocking a balaclava. In a final evolution, balaclavas have since become a featured garment in the collections of top fashion houses.

In the past few fashion seasons, brands like Miu Miu, The Row, Loewe, and Max Mara among many others have all released their own renditions of the balaclava. New York brand Khaite even dedicated an entire 17-piece capsule collection to skiers late last year, which of course included a range of knitted ski masks. Even luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton has taken note, debuting a selection of fetishist leather balaclavas.

During the first fashion weeks of this year, it was hard not to notice the headwear as a statement accessory among street style stars. They served either as accent pieces to otherwise minimalist or low-key outfits or as a statement focal point to tie together avant-grade looks.

These louder options were a pleasant surprise at Paris Men’s Fashion Week, which commonly sees more muted choices. Materials ranged from neon faux fur to animal print neoprenes, and even sheer hoods. The women opted for more sophisticated knit versions; as a soft feature to complement classic tailored pieces like blazers and overcoats.

Looking for cues on how to style a balaclava? See how these fashion week goers approach the trend below:

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