It’s a particularly British trait to think of pragmatism and practicality over all. That stiff upper lip might be on the wane (a good thing, if you ask me) but it’s stout British grit that’s seen the country through its darkest hours, and, in a very different manner, informs the decision of a kid from Clapton to scrabble together friends, family, shrapnel from the back of the sofa and a heap of talent and put on a fashion show. Yes, it’s not down the mines, but at a time when art school funding is in crisis it’s admirable that any young graduate should want to strike out on their own with a hope of kitting out your wardrobe.
Which is why, when brands such as Burberry and Alexander McQueen have decided, for now, to duck out of London Fashion Week Men’s - the bi-annual men’s fashion showcase in the capital - it’s encouraging that spirited young designers are filling their places; Edward Crutchley, Daniel Fletcher and Bobby Abley all create bold, left-of-centre clothes that stand out in a sea of greige.
In the world of men’s fashion, London has always been a peculiar microcosm; a fashion landscape where the traditions of tailoring are the most exalted in the world, while at the same time nurturing diverse new talent. No other city could have given us both Jermyn Street and The Blitz club; both of them sartorial hubs.
But away from ceremonial suiting and out-there theatricality, London Fashion Week Men’s also deftly demonstrates is the ability of British designers to create solid, proper clothes that men want to wear.
Oliver Spencer has always been at the forefront of this, tip-toeing a fine line between formality and casual with suits that are are more soft-structure and freeing, with contemporary interpretations of the blazer by way of a signature jacket with a turned up collar.
Another brand specialising in solid dependability, albeit with a whimsical touch, is Lou Dalton. The designer has made fantastic knitwear in zinging colours, easy, breezy shirting and pitch perfect bomber jackets mainstays in her collections.
Dalton’s contemporary, Christopher Raeburn, last year took over the former Burberry textile factory in East London to make a hub for his Remade initiative, where the designer re-purposed and recycled materials to make for a style statement with a conscience.
Amongst the more elder statesmen labels, there’s also a pull towards clothes that serve a purpose, all the more evident in Belstaff’s durable, heavy-duty outerwear and dynamic vigour.
Kent & Curwen might be a relative newcomer on the men’s style map, after rejuvenation by co-owner David Beckham and designer Daniel Kearns, but it’s actually a brand with an incredible history and its current offering of sportswear with a traditional aesthetic marries that past with a punchy present.
Stay tuned for what unfolds during London Fashion Week Men’s; brogues are polished and shirts are starched in anticipation.