Style

Vive La France: heritage workwear has never looked so chic

Mr Porter’s new capsule collection is a menswear Francophile’s dream

Ooh la la. Mr Porter has done it again. Tomorrow, the online retail behemoth is launching a 14 brand capsule collection, paying homage to classic French style, with an emphasis on Parisian street style, heritage workwear and savoir faire.

As you’d expect, the collection is beautifully constructed, mixing limited edition pieces from modern, minimal Parisian designers with northern and southern French cult brands. Highlights come care of Officine Generale, Armor-Lux, Arpenteur, Ami and Hartford, among others. Four new brands will be landing on the platform, too; De Bonne Facture (an inspired choice, we’re fans of the brand, as you’ll be able to tell here), plus Maison Labiche, Husbands and Breton thoroughbred Le Mont St Michel.

Of course, today, we think of workwear as a fully fleshed out genre in menswear, but really, the birth of modern workwear has its roots in mid-19th century France. The Bleu de Travail, which today we’d call the ubiquitous ‘blue work jacket’, was created with it’s distinctive boxy cut, sizeable tool-bearing pockets and hard-wearing canvas fabrication in vivid indigo blue to distinguish rank-and-file labourers from foremen. It helped that the blue dye and rough-woven cotton drill cloth were cheap materials at the time.

Now though, French workwear is the real deal, and this capsule’s consolidated its place in Spring Summer ’18’s pantheon of on-trend looks. Here are six pieces from the collection that mark it out as one of this season’s most desirable capsules. Move fast if something catches your eye, these will sell out in a flash.

French heritage workwear1. Le Mont St Michel work jacket

And on that note, where better to start than with the quintessential workwear jacket? Le Mont St Michel has been making hardy French workwear for well over a century now. Its authentic bleu de travail jackets are the stuff of sartorial legend, and this one ticks all the boxes. The straight cut, generous revere collar, cobalt blue dyed cotton drill, tonal patch pockets and button-through front combine to create the quintessential trans-season chore coat. It’s light enough to wear now, but over a heavy sweater it’ll take you right through winter, too.

£215, shop now

Armor-Lux Breton crewneck2. Armor-Lux Breton crewneck

The quintessential Breton shirt, by the quintessential Breton brand. Armor-Lux has been making these in every colour and style you could imagine since 1928, but this ‘Mariniere’ style is the daddy. Cut in lightweight cotton jersey that’s ideal for summer, with a traditional scooped neckline and loose fit, this is the real deal. A smart alternative to a chambray shirt, try it with denim workwear trousers beneath a classic canvas chore jacket. You could even dress it up beneath a navy or tan linen suit, if you feel so inclined.

£55, shop now

De bonne facture blouson3. De Bonne Facture melton blouson

De Bonne Facture is a made-in-France outerwear specialist, and takes great pains to work with native workshops on small-runs of seriously well-made product. This sleek blouson proves the point – in many ways it’s the quintessential lightweight blouson; clean-cut in mid-weight wool melton, with a generous shearling collar. It’s an investment piece this, treat yourself and you’ll wear it season-in, season-out.

£650, shop now

Arpenteur workwear trousers4. Arpenteur denim workwear trousers

Lyon-based firm Arpenteur is another workwear thoroughbred, though its not been around for as long as you might imagine. It was founded by two brothers with an obsession for hard-wearing clothing in 2011, but its designs are influenced by mid-century French work clothes. These trousers take their lead from the work-suit trousers that would traditionally be sported with a chore coat. The tapered legs, twin-pleated front and mid-high rise cut all mark them out as a heritage-led design. The dark denim cloth is a sharp choice and suitably tough, too.

£195, shop now

Maison Kitsune camp shirt5. Maison Kitsune camp collar shirt

This silky camp collar shirt from Maison Kitsune is unashamedly retro, with its archive inspired cut and abstract printed pattern. In breezy cream cotton poplin, with highlights in cool blue and terracotta, it’s distinctive but will pair easily with either classic blue or brown tones. Play up its louche feel and try it with wide-leg navy chinos, quirky canvas sneakers and a tan cotton field jacket (with the collar popped, of course).

£200, shop now

Bleu de Chauffe backpack6. Blue de Chauffe backpack

Blue de Chauffe doesn’t do things by halves. This backpack is a tangibly robust piece of design, cut in waxy petrol blue full-grain calf with extra-thick bridle leather straps and tough brass hardware. It’s a good size, and features a traditional buckling flap, shoulder straps and an additional carrying handle for added practicality. The age-old French colloquialism ‘mettre son bleu de chauffe’ translates loosely as ‘get stuck into your work’, and you’ll want to put this to work, guaranteed.

£385, coming soon, keep checking back