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Why Is Menswear Giving The Quarter-Zip A Second Chance?

Jan 31

A quarter-zip is what it's known as. A half-zip is what it's known as. Whatever you name them, these pullovers with stiff, mandarin-style high necks and a zipper closure down part of the chest have never strayed far from their current utilitarian duty. It's an easily layered garment that doesn't have the cool appeal of a cardigan, V-neck sweater, or sweatshirt, and comes in fleece or a knit construction. Any of your neighbors might wear one to keep warm, dry, and conspicuous while going for a morning run around the block, thanks to the tech features. And, unlike pleated trousers or bulky runners, this is a "dad" fashion that your own father is likely to still wear - so there's no nostalgia component. Overall, quarter- and half-zips aren't really fashionable – even ironically – but they get the job done.

However, as seen by recent runway shows and a flood of new silhouettes, its reputation looks to be shifting.


What Is The Significance Of This Moment?

Put it down to a perfect storm of variables, some practical and others influenced by trends. Layering and flexibility have fused into the minimalist menswear trend, which focuses on sustainability and getting rid of excess, and the half-zip fits in well as a mid-layer that can be worn over a T-shirt or any shirt. To add to this final point, the use of fleece as a status symbol in the workplace – and, let's be honest, it has to be a Patagonia fleece, otherwise you're just a cheap try-hard – has exploded in recent years, to the point that the "Midtown Uniform" of finance guys and tech bros has become a joke. In the end, it's a smart-casual essential with a hint of preppy charm that every exec and management want tobe wears to blend in.

1/4 zips, on the other hand, are a continuation of the tech features trend as well as "dad" fashion, but not for the same reasons. The newest quarter-zips capitalize on this with roomy fits and warm-for-its-weight fabric. In addition, fleece is one of those deceptively techy textiles that is used beyond the rigid sports clothing worn for marathon training: Even the most casual variants combine remarkable insulation with moisture-wicking properties and a movement-friendly style.


Classic Reimagined

It's simply that something isn't right. The basis is a knit or fleece, however it is distinguished from the norm by little elements. For one thing, the classic quarter- or half-zip has a sleek but boxy shape that doesn't sit exactly near to the skin, making layering a breeze. The new revisions, on the other hand, regard it as a distinct thing that may be worn as a layer but also looks good on its own.

Streetwear fits, on the one hand, have shattered this framework. Quarter-zips come in a variety of styles, including cropped quarter-zips and enormous, baggy ones that cover the majority of the chest and resemble anoraks with a defined hem. Taking influences from sportswear, the fine knit material rests closer to the skin, effectively working as a lightweight sweater you might wear beneath a trucker jacket or bomber, or the mandarin high collar is sometimes swapped for a point collar, giving off polo shirt hybrid vibes.