Against the current social and political background of uncertainty and unrest, it’s human nature to crave some stability and reassurance for the year ahead. While these turbulent times might not encourage you to buy that new coat or embrace the velvet trend that’s gathering pace for 2018, there was a reassuring common thread that bound together many of the menswear brands that showed over these last three days. Comfort and nostalgia, it seems, is want we want in today’s fashion landscape – and a lot of rich soft velvet to wrap-up in – so life is looking up.
Many brands excelled themselves for AW18, but we’ve picked our five favourites, each of which left us with some feel good factor, and the sense that 2018 might just be okay after all.
Oliver Spencer presented an accomplished collection with the cultural energy of London at its very heart. Entitled ‘Loved is The Drug’, Spencer drew on the rich and diverse heritage this city has cultivated. It was as much about the musical landscape as the literal urban sprawl; a familiar palette of midnight and charcoal was used across his relaxed tailoring, slim-line topcoats and crisp zip-front bombers were layered over earthy, chunky knits. Peppered among the urban greys were pops of mustard, chocolate and burgundy – reflecting the colours of a pulsating neon lit sky. Spencer’s use of relaxed velvet made itself at home in his workwear jackets, signature Judo pants and a rich mustard suit. The Bailey Bomber from the show is available to buy now through Spencer’s Vero feed. oliverspencer.co.uk
Band of Outsiders
As the biting cold night sky descended on Somerset House last Saturday, tourists and locals alike vacated the central ice rink to make way for a dozen men skimming across the ice in the brand’s new AW18 collection. The spectacle was fitting given the collection’s clear winter sport influences. Not surprisingly, the focus was on well-insulated outerwear and high quality knits. Band of Outsiders has collaborated with The Woolmark Company, to use some of the finest merino wool on the market.
Highlights included the voluminous polar bear white coat, a reinvention of last season’s teddy bear coat, and a bright orange hooded patch pocket coat, too. The ski striped trousers and fine rollnecks under gave a stylistic nod to a more nostalgic time on the slopes. For less challenging alpine activities (gluhwein anyone?), there were Après ski friendly drawstring trousers with natty prints, hefty corduroy separates (its still here for next season), and bomber jackets worn both under and over tailored separates. bandofoutsiders.com
As we navigate through a world of ever-increasing consumerism, the mantra ‘less is more’ could not have felt more apt at Lou Dalton’s well-conceived menswear presentation. Calling upon a sense of the rugged outdoors, the collection was both hearty and rich. Dalton took inspiration from the men in her life; from hiking trips in Shropshire with her brother when they were younger to meeting her partner Justin Haigh. This sense of nostalgia came through in her use of traditional British fabrics; lots of boiled wools, dry Shetland tweeds and melange mohairs were used across her knitwear, tell-tale signs of the collaborative partnership she has with John Smedley.
Her use of texture played up to the comfort factor, too. Mixed with the dry wools were wide-leg flannel trousers with thick velvet side seams – which were also a feature across the boxy bombers. Using the rich earthy colours of the wild outdoors (heather grey, moss green, burnt bronze and midnight blue) gave her designs depth and fluidity. Dalton’s star has long been in the ascendance, but this collection has a real sense of heart and warmth about it and deserves to do well. loudalton.com
Kent & Curwen
K&C’s Creative Director Daniel Kearns also invested heavily in nostalgia for his latest collection; championing the energy and drive of young British sportsmen, artists and musicians. Kearns collaborated with award winning photographer and filmmaker Perry Ogden, whose raw aesthetic captured a cast of young British boxers, London artists and emerging Indie musicians wearing this new collection.
Kearns spoke to The Jackal about how he’s long admired Ogden’s work and felt it was a natural fit to have him capture the spirit of the collection. The honesty captured through Perry’s portraits highlights the purpose of Kearns’ designs: which bridge the worlds of luxury and British heritage sportswear. Think hefty aristocratic polo coats, shearling bombers, utilitarian workwear and hoop striped rugby jerseys. If you mashed up the wardrobe of Cillian Murphy’s character in Peaky Blinders with the sporty charm of Ben Cross’s character from Chariots of Fire, it would look like this. And that’s a good thing. kentandcurwen.com
Belstaff’s dual gender AW18 collection entitled ‘Made in UK’ has gone back to the brand’s roots, under the creative direction of Delphine Ninous, who looked back to British subcultures of the 1950s, where Mods, punks, rockers and skins clashed in music, protest and fashion. A four-pocket tan shearling coat worn over a loose navy and red striped rollneck with slim jeans felt fresh, with a just a nod of fifties Brighton Pier nostalgia. The burgundy leather biker jacket with matching pique polo and tailored cargo pants also felt like a strong contemporary look, while obviously referencing its modish roots.
Excitingly, the brand has returned its production to the UK for a series of exclusive outerwear pieces, too. Most notably, the iconic four pocket Trail Master (as worn by Steve McQueen and Ewan McGregor) has been remastered for its 70th birthday. Back in British ownership, expectations from this much-loved brand are looking strong. belstaff.co.uk