Dion Lee menswear makes a major splash at New York Fashion Week

Australian fashion designer Dion Lee unveiled his first menswear collection at New York Fashion Week on Sunday, making a splash with a capsule that's bent on urban and surf inspiration.

Models walked the runway in thongs (perhaps a kitsch nod to his Aussie roots) as they paraded everything from shiny emerald green board shorts to double breasted tailored jackets worn over sarong-like shirts and fitted pants.

A change in scene

Since relocating his design house to the Big Apple recently, Sydney-born Lee says showing at NYFW (which he has done since 2013) is a must for anyone trying to make it in the business.

He started designing menswear out of a personal desire to create clothing for himself, but it's expanded into a whole lot more and fits in nicely with what is now a unisex runway collection.

Informed by Sydney beach life, Lee fuses a love of both cities in his collection – there's plenty of grey pavement salutations to New York City as there are sun-kissed moments with cropped length pants and angular T-shirts for men seeking the cold-shoulder trend.

Catching momentum

This was also his first menswear collection outside of a preview that took place at Mercedes-Benz Australian Fashion Week in Sydney earlier this year.

Since launching womenswear in 2009, Lee says he is finally ready to branch into menswear. It's about creating pieces that work in unison for both sexes, with some pieces suitable for a gender blur.

Lee says that there's a new excitement that comes with launching a menswear line and he's feeding off that buzz.

"It's important to leverage off that momentum," says Lee.

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"The interest from buyers around the menswear in the showroom has been really strong which is exciting to see as it's the first season we are selling the collection," he says.

Tailored, yet athletic 

The menswear collection fits neatly in the athletic marketplace and the finished product possesses a charmed tailoring. The colour palette swerves between dreamy greys, green, navy, black and white.

"The collection combines athletic outerwear in performance textiles with structured tailoring in traditional wools and denim," says Lee who travels between Sydney and NYC three times a year.

Art and architecture continue to inspire his silhouettes – they're minimalist and modern with clean lines aplenty. When he delivers a biker jacket he does so with little fuss while contrast stitching is part of the fabric weave in denim jackets that point to boxy silhouettes and worn with baggy jeans always rolled at the cuffs.

"Men's will definitely be an ongoing focus for the brand as we will continue to present both collections in tandem," says Lee.

"New York has a lot of parallels to Australia and our brand, it's synonymous with sportswear. Our network in New York has really grown since relocating our design office here."

Check out the galley above to see Dion Lee's complete menswear range.