Sunday, 5 July 2015

Turnbull & Asser SS16 at London Collections:Men

When a creative team contains my favourite tie maker, the ever-dapper Shaun Gordon, and Dean Gomilsek-Cole, who helped me recently on an article I wrote for The Rake, I expect it to produce something special. T&A's SS16 collection was a highlight of London Collections:Men, one with its roots in the classic, but which had so many original and creative elements, yet was still a very wearable assembly of menswear. I would have happily left with most of the clothes on display.

Classic shapes given a modern twist with interesting mixes of shapes, cheerful checks, colours and textures, all with the best fabrics to complement these characteristics. These are ideal for men of style of whatever age and I hope to see more of these clothes this year and to report back further. Turnbull & Asser.

For a report on my recent visit to their shirt factory, click here.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Grey Fox talks to Oliver Spencer about his SS16 collection and the future of style

Oliver Spencer's designs are favourites of mine as they straddle the gap between very classic menswear and something a little original and exciting. For SS16 they have brought together a wide range of colours and styles in 'Harmonious Discord' with muted colours and modern shapes and textures. While not everything will be for everybody (when is it?) there is always something for the slightly more adventurous man of style. He is also one of the very few using grey-haired models, reassuring us that the clothes are for all men.

Read below what Oliver Spencer told me about his SS16 collection.

Oliver Spencer SS16

Oliver Spencer SS16

GF. What’s the theme for the SS16 collection shown at this LC:M?

OS. The  theme for SS16 came from the work of sculptor Richard Serra. I've interpreted his use of non-traditional materials by using a wide selection of textures, colours and lines. The collection includes a lot of new styles, as well as checks, tartans, florals and stripes. There's a lot of summer tailoring as well as an eclectic mix of fabrics and colours layered up.

GF. Your show is one of the few that includes models with a few grey hairs. Is this a deliberate policy? How do you select your models?

OS. Absolutely. It's all about having a cross section of interesting people. I want models with character.

GF. What sort of man do you design for? Are you thinking of a certain age, interest or style?

OS. I'd say he's an independent-thinking, informed guy who's not necessarily after the most obvious things in life.

GF. You make some of your clothes in the UK. What is your view on making menswear in the UK?

OS. If the garment fits with the factory, then I will absolutely manufacture in the UK. If it's the best place for that specific item to be made - then I make it there.

GF. What major changes do you see to menswear styles over the next year or two? For example, are skinny fits on the way out – what styles will be filtering through to the high street?

OS. I think we're going to see more 'boxy' fits, with cleaner, straighter lines. I think things will get more interesting and more unusual.

See Oliver Spencer to see and buy.

Oliver Spencer SS16

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Cool summer suits: style inspiration for men

The heat brings discomfort, but this doesn't mean that sartorial excellence has to go out of the window. I don't have a smart summer suit and am on the lookout for one. Here are some images that inspire me in my search for the elusive ideal suit.

If you own the rights to any of the above images and would like them removed, please get in touch.

Linen, cotton, lightweight wool, silk, or a combination of these, make the best cool cloths. I like the crumpled, comfortable, casual style of linen and would look for pale blue or cream/tan as the most classic and practical colours. Wear with a linen or seersucker shirt; no tie, or with a cotton floral tie and a silk or cotton pocket square in pale, sunny hues.

Make sure the suit fits properly, snug across the shoulders and the correct length in arm and leg. Have the suit altered if it's not too far out; there are alterations tailors on most high streets. If it's too far out in sizing, alterations won't succeed, so don't buy.

Here are some of the places I will try for my summer suit (if you're quick you may find something in the summer sales):

For off the peg:
Marks & Spencer (affordable)
Oliver Spencer (more casual)

Or for made to measure or bespoke:
Edit Suits (affordable)
Hirsch Tailoring (bespoke)
Susannah Hall, Tailor (bespoke)

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Eton Shirts: quality and style from Sweden

In my search for good quality and stylish shirts I'd heard of Eton Shirts, but only recently had a chance to inspect them closely when they sent me two to try.

Despite the very English name, Eton are a Swedish company. The range of shirts they sell is large and their well-designed website divides them into four different fits, with extra-long sleeve lengths a further option. A DNA Collection is made in Sweden.

Here I'm wearing Eton Shirts white button-down Oxford contemporary-fit shirt

As they arrived from Eton Shirts

The huge choice of colours and cloths means that there is something here for everyone. I selected a blue indigo slimfit shirt with cutaway collar in what I assume to be chambray and a white button-down Oxford shirt. Both are well-made, fit well (although the sleeves on the white shirt are a little long) and very stylish. 

I'm a great believer in wearing well-cut denim and chambray shirts with ties and jackets or suits, mixing formal and informal. The Eton chambray shirt has a collar stiff enough to wear with a tie, giving you the option of doing that, or going tieless.

The strength of the Eton Shirts offering is the wide choice of fabrics, fits and styles. For more information, see Eton Shirts.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Best of Britannia & the best of British menswear & accessories

Best of Britannia is now in its fourth year and it continues to be an event that attracts established and new businesses making everything from bicycles to basques in the UK. It is open to the public this weekend (27 and 28 June 2015) at 3 - 10 Shoreditch High Street, London.

While I was interested mainly in the menswear and accessories, I was diverted by other well-crafted products, as you'll see below. Regulars will recognise some of the businesses below, several were new to me and I hope to cover many of them in more detail at some point. Meanwhile, you will find basic information and contact details below.

Brita Hirsch showed me her beautiful tailoring. She is based in Cheshire, but makes regular trips to London to see clients. She is a true bespoke tailor and your clothes will be made from a unique pattern that she will cut for you. Hirsch Tailoring.

Hill & Ellis make leather bike bags in England. The detail and quality of the construction is outstanding.

The Holborn magazine celebrates quality wherever it's found. A good read for anyone with a wide interest in anything from craft, food to fine tailoring.

Well-known to regulars of this blog, Susannah Hall is a great supporter of made in Britain and all her clothes are tailored here in the UK. A visit to her shop in Clerkenwell is a must. 

Here are two great British head footmen together. On the left is Justin Hall of Pantherella who make such superb socks in Leicester and on the right is William Church of Joseph Cheaney & Sons, English shoemakers. Coincidentally, I was wearing their products when I took this image; no doubt explaining their wonderful smiles.

Cravat Club is well-known to readers and their English-made silk cravats and pocket squares are firm favourites.

New to me, EDG London was founded this year by artist Natalie O'Hara. Beautiful ties and accessories, all made in England, hold promise for a successful brand and I look forward to bringing you more in the future.

The incomparable Walsh make trainers for both performance and casual use in Bolton, Lancashire and I wear a pair as I type - 'nuff said really. Norman Walsh.

Loveday London is a product for men in the sense that, if you see it, you will want it for the woman in your life. Their luxury lingerie, loungewear and candles are beautifully made in Wales and are just so sexy. Very highly recommended.

Shackleton Clothing is basing its products around the famous explorer and I will be writing about them again soon. Made in Britain, as you'd expect.

Swift & Co make very interesting footwear in Burnley, Lancashire - a cunning mix of classic uppers and sporting soles. I hope to bring you more in future. Meanwhile, see Swift & Co

Sam Brown, English leather wear and belts on which all the components (and buckles in various metals including silver) are made in the UK. New to me - beautiful workmanship.

Finally, and again new to me, Nuwold, making leather goods and umbrellas. Lovely stuff, I'll bring you more information when I can. 

Friday, 26 June 2015

London Collections:Men, an overview of SS16

The diversity of styles on show at London Collections:Men earlier month showed the richness of the British Menswear market. I was looking for clothes that I like, or which might appeal to the older man; meaning good tailoring and well-made casual wear that is different, but not extreme. Most brands used young models to show their clothes, giving the older man little chance to see the possibilities, so well done to Duchamp (below) for showing models with grey hair. (See here my recent post on this topic).

Duchamp SS16

The variety of menswear on show makes spotting trends, so loved by newspaper fashion editors, very hard to do. My earlier prediction of looser cuts and the demise of skinny-fit trousers was accurate, but slim-fits (unloved by many older men) are still here. Double-breasted jackets, ties, pocket squares, Harrington or safari jackets and chunky shoes give a fair overview of the looks for next year. Evening and party wear becomes more varied. Overall, colours remain rich but muted, without the splashes of colour we saw last year - not that this will stop you adding colour in shirts, ties, pocket squares etc.

Here are a few of the many brands that caught my eye with links to their websites (I'll look at Oliver Spencer and Turnbull & Asser in separate posts). The products shown here will be for sale next summer (SS16).  For more information, see London Collections:Men.
Duchamp's use of beautiful fabrics made their SS16 collection stand out for me. The feel of a suit or jacket is so important and emphasis has been placed by Duchamp on the tactile nature of the materials. As usual, the tailoring is immaculate with a wide range of lapel and button styles to suit all tastes for day or evening wear. 

Duchamp SS16

Hardy Amies is one of the traditional Savile Row brands that is reinventing itself. I have heard complaints about this trend to streamline and update such labels, but to me it makes sense. A man of style needs a choice and the businesses that are moving forward and exploring new horizons provide the richness that is needed to prevent stagnation. Hardy Amies, Kilgour and a few others are part of this. They are not replacing classic tailoring, but updating it for the modern man. The Hardy Amies SS16 show did this to perfection. 

Private White VC's offering gains in maturity and style with each season. Moving away from pure workwear style, this autumn see suits and the tailoring theme continues in their SS16 collection here. Remember, these are made in Manchester, reason enough to support this exciting brand.

Nigel Cabourn is another British-made label. The vintage military/explorer/outdoor themes rely on recreating the genuine durability and quality found in original clothing of that type. I'm keen to explore further and hope to feature their clothes in more detail later this year. No sharply tailored evening suits here - this is for practical smart casual.

Nigel Cabourn SS16

Universal Works 'Not Another Catwalk' show was one of the most enjoyable and original presentations of LC:M and typical of the creative style of this brand. The aim is to make clothes that people want to wear, retaining a British feel with comfortable casual wear which has a distinct workwear feel to it. Clothes for every man, you can wear them, rather than vice versa.

Chester Barrie is a brand that my generation associates with grey high street tailoring, so I was quite unprepared for the superbly updated classic styles on show in their SS16 collection. Seersucker, silk blends, sharply-shaped lapels and everything from casual to evening wear interpreted in an interesting way. These themes are less extreme than Hardy Amies, so their quiet classic 'with a twist' style will suit many Grey Fox readers. One to explore at a future date. I was unable to obtain any images in time from them, so here is one I took on my phone of a rather nice seersucker suit.

Gieves & Hawkes is, in common with others on Savile Row, updating its image and styles while retaining the sharp and tailored look that we associate with this very British-style brand. The  casual look and the suit below are typical of SS16's snappy, colourful looks. 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Loake repair and refurbishment - new life for your shoes

When I visited the Loake shoe factory in Kettering a few weeks ago I noticed that there were many shoes that had been sent in by customers for repair and refurbishment. My beautifully made and comfortable pair of Loake Otterburn brogues needed a repair, so Loake kindly agreed to refurbish them and record the process for the blog. I wasn't disappointed, after what seemed a short time the shoes arrived back in an almost as new condition.

Before (top) and after (below) refurbishment by Loake 

The shoes receive what is effectively a complete rebuild. Some of the processes the shoes went through are shown in the images below and in the video. For more information on Loake's repair and refurbishment service, click here

On the left, my shoe is stripped down, (moving clockwise) the welt is sewn, the sole stitched and heel attached.
The shoe is afterwards polished and inspected before despatch