Burberry brings its menswear home – to the London catwalk

Leave a comment

Burberry Prorsum's menswear show at Milan fashion week in January

Burberry has announced it will be joining brands including Alexander McQueen and Tom Ford by moving its menswear collection to Londonmen’s fashion week. The British label will present its June 2013 show in London rather than Milan as previously.

This is a huge boost for London’s newest fashion week. London Collections: Men, as the three-day event is known, began in June 2012 and has proved a great success three seasons in. Plugging into the rise of the male fashion consumer, new British designers such as Richard Nicoll and Agi & Sam have enjoyed critical acclaim at the shows; while more established brands such as McQueen and Ford have added kudos to this burgeoning fashion week. Burberry’s move is a clear vote of confidence that the menswear showcase can cut it on the international stage.

“The country’s proud menswear heritage and outstanding contemporary talent give it a unique and powerful energy,” said Burberry chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey. “It is a wonderful time to be bringing our menswear show home.” The Burberry relocation has been greeted with excitement from the industry. Vogue’s editor Alexandra Shulman described it as “great news” on Twitter.

It’s not just a patriotic gesture. Menswear is increasingly seen as a growing sector in fashion. Alexander McQueen opened a menswear-only store late last year, and Selfridges opened the biggest men’s shoe department in the world. Net-a-porter’s brother site Mr Porter, meanwhile, has blossomed since launching in 2011, with 4,000 new customers each month.

Burberry’s move also fits into the brand’s strategy of highlighting its Britishness. Since bringing the womenswear show to London in 2009, Bailey has increasingly emphasised Burberry’s roots – using everything from black cabs in adverts to rain on the catwalk. While the largely womenswear-driven expansion in China experienced a slowdown late last year, menswear has been the fastest growing sector in the first half of 2012/13’s financial year. Sales in tailoring, a new focus for the company, increased by 50% in the last three months of 2012 and an additional London HQ will also open, close to the brand’s existing Pimlico HQ, later in the year.

MAN 2013: the menswear names to watch

Leave a comment

Now in its seventh year, MAN – the new-talent menswear initiative overseen by Fashion East’s Lulu Kennedy, and sponsored by Topman – has become the show to find the names to watch. Previous alumni include JW Anderson, James Long and Christopher Shannon and there are new names joining for the spring/summer 2014 catwalk show. Showcased on the opening day of London Collections: Men next month, here’s an exclusive lowdown on this season’s picks.

Craig Green

Craig Green … extreme aesthetic.

 

The only designer participating for the second time, Green graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2012 and was part of the MAN lineup last season. He has caught attention for an extreme aesthetic – with headpieces made out ofsmashed-up wood worn by models for his previous collection, as featured on the front page of the Guardian. “The different viewpoints and aesthetics will make for an interesting show,” says Kennedy. “Craig’s debut last season was exceptionally accomplished and thought-provoking.”

Bobby Abley … fresh and wearable.

 

Abley’s aesthetic is out of this world – or it certainly was last season when he themed his collection around spaceflight, evenmaking a spaceship for a model at his installation to appear in. This time around, his show debut, promises more. Like Jeremy Scott, who the Ravenscroft graduate worked with before setting up on his own, pop culture is his specialist subject. “The cartoon prints on sportswear-inspired silhouettes last season were fresh and wearable,” says Kennedy. “He’s now ready for the runway and I know he’ll bring the fun.”

Alan Taylor … inspired by cubism.

 

Launching his label in 2011, Taylor – who hails from Dublin – has previously worked for Alexander McQueen as well ascurrent menswear darlings Agi & Sam. Like both brands, his aesthetic goes between traditional tailoring and a magpie sensibility, with his autumn collection inspired by cubism. This is his first catwalk outing. “We’ve had our eye on Alan Taylor for a while,” says Kennedy. “His experimental tailoring and contemporary take on heritage fabrics are very considered and skilfully executed.”

Barbers make a high street comeback as men go retro and abandon salons

Leave a comment

Close up of a male student having a haircut

The return of the short back and sides as the must-have hairstyle forfashion-conscious teens and twentysomethings is having a helpful impact on the country’s beleaguered high streets: more barber shops sprang up last year than any kind of business other than charity shops.

While bookshops, technology retailers and music stores all suffered, barbers have bucked the economic downturn. More than 150 new shops opened in the UK last year, a 6.24% rise, according to figures from the Local Data Company (LDC). Fashion is a key explanation of the leap in numbers, particularly the popularity of retro 1920s and 1950s cuts with short or shaved back and sides and a styled top that require regular return visits to keep in shape.

There’s the “ivy league” – a classic short cut, which can be smooth on top or “textured”, as worn by Arsenal footballer Aaron Ramsey andTwilight star Robert Pattinson. Or the “varsity” side parting – trimmed at the sides and back and groomed on top. A shorter version of the 1950s quiff – David Beckham‘s latest look – is also hugely popular. Or for a rather more radical look there’s the “fusey” cut – shaved sides and long on top – favoured by Joey Essex from the TV soap The Only Way Is Essex.

Film stars and footballers – like Beckham, Gareth Bale, Xabi Alonso and Theo Walcott – are the big style icons. “Whatever Beckham has, people follow him,” says Paul Taylor of Taylor Taylor barbers in Sheffield, which was set up by his grandfather in 1927. He says the latest trends demand greater use of clippers and shaving equipment that can only be found at a barber’s. “Guys recognise it’s a skilful profession quite different from a women’s hairdresser’s,” says Taylor.

Mike Taylor, director of the British Barbers Association, says: “Men are looking after themselves a lot more and have finally realised that the barber is the best person to cut their hair, not a hairdresser.” He says the male grooming industry as a whole grew by 3% last year – not bad during a recession.

Karen Waldron, the owner of Berkhamsted-based the Barber Shop Group, which has 12 shops, says barbers are booming during the economic downturn as men look for a cheaper option than the unisex salons they might have used in the past. “They don’t want to go to Toni & Guy, it’s too expensive,” she says. On the other hand, men are more willing to spend money on pampering themselves, with rising demand for hot-towel shaves and waxing.

Another driver behind the barber boom is economics. As other retailers close down, barbers are able to get rent-free or low-rent deals on small shops in a way that wouldn’t have been possible before the financial crash. “Lots of people don’t want these little shop units, which are an ideal size for barbers,” says Matthew Hopkinson of LDC.

As a result the number of barbers on high streets and in shopping centres has grown by 8%, while growth on local shopping parades is slower and the number of barbers in out-of-town retail parks has fallen.

With no requirement for a licence or qualifications, it is relatively cheap, quick and easy to set up mirrors, chairs and clippers, making a barber shop an attractive option for those who find themselves out of work or looking to start their own business. The BBA has been trying to improve standards and introduce a licensing system to prevent untrained barbers from opening up and undercutting established businesses. It says new rivals are a cause of concern for barbers who have invested in years of training and investment.

Waldron, who set up her own business 31 years ago after becoming one of the first female barbers trained in a traditional shop when she was 16, says her salons have faced increasing competition as some of her own staff have left to set up their own businesses nearby. Aylesbury, for example, now has eight barbers. “They’re all people I’ve trained,” she says. “Everybody thinks it’s a quick buck, but in many cases they have just saturated a town.”

Fierce competition keeps prices down. Philip Ashia of Active Barbers in Tooting, south London, says he has seen more than five barbers open up nearby in the last year alone and business has been tricky as customers try out new rivals.

His afro shop is something of a local social club, as shown in the YouTube hit Smokey’s Barbers. He stays open until late and has created an atmosphere that keeps people coming back. “Lots of guys just come to hang out, but they often end up having their hair cut,” he says.

Lauren Laverne on fashion: fun in the sun

Leave a comment

Beachwear

I hope you’re having a sparkling winter, truly I do. I pray that you’re visibly delighted by the prospect of the freezing months ahead, skipping through the snow, pausing at your white-topped front gate to French a beautiful lady before dancing off into the three hours of natural light the day affords you, like Bill Murray at the end of Groundhog Day.

I suspect, however, that some of you – pushed a chapped lip and frosty windscreen too far – may be feeling more like William Blake, who called winter “The direful monster… [who] strides o’er the groaning rocks/ He withers all in silence, and in his hand/ Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.” Proving that nobody pinpoints the drawbacks of the chilly season quite so eloquently as a nudist poet.

Understandably, many Brits choose to take a holiday at this time of year. If you’re about to jet off somewhere sunny, read on. If not, read on anyway. A bit of online window-shopping filled with the promise of balmy days yet to come is the perfect antidote to the post-Christmas blues.

Style Passport is my absolute favourite travel-shopping site. As well as finding articles to inspire your next adventure, you can shop by destination (beach, city, spa, outdoors), style or brand and buy everything from your ski boots to your swimsuit – even the suitcase to stash them in – in one place.

Asos‘s holiday shop is full of great buys at reasonable prices. I love this exclusive beach dress and these Cheap Monday sunnies.

As you might imagine from its name, Swimwear365 offers a huge range of beachwear and accessories all year round.

For upscale browsing, nothing beats Harrods’s Winter Holiday Shop. I had fun imagining a life where an £800 kaftan could have a place in my wardrobe and enjoyed the Travel Essentials section, which gamely tests the limits of the word “essential” by including an (absolutely gorgeous but undeniably £250) iPad cover. The Harrods shopper in lean times may note that the sale has begun. This DVF beach dress has come down to £219.

If you’re in search of something different, Notonthehighstreet is full of unusual holiday buys from small design studios, like this rush bag by Nom. If you’re lucky enough to be going on a family beach holiday, thistowel by Pip Studio is big enough for all of you to share.

Finally, I’m officially still in mourning for the Innovations catalogue, but gadget site Firebox has helped to console me. Holiday accessories there include this shockproof, waterproof mobile-phone protector.

how to get the worn-in, distressed-clothing look

Leave a comment

non-distressed mens clothing

 

Something that I’ve discovered in the course of writing this column over the past couple of years is that the google search “ideas+men’s+style+column” yields very little of use. Nevertheless, I do still trawl the internet – not for ideas as much as to try and give these ramblings a semblance of authority. I do this by intermittently monitoring websites dedicated to fashion. That’s not to say that I just rip off their features – far from it. I regularly find myself scoffing at their recommendations. And rarely more so than this month, because there seems to be a proliferation of “distressed” clothing and footwear. Which I detest.

I mean, why would you buy a new item of clothing or footwear that looks knackered? I just don’t get it. I agree that many things – jeans, some jackets, leather wallets – look better when “worn-in”, but they should be worn in by you, not by a machine. Without wanting to get too philosophical (they’re just clothes, after all), that is a soulless way of doing things.

Apart from anything else, I don’t want to wear a pair of “army boots” that look as if they’ve been through a war because I don’t want to risk having conversations that go like this: “Wow, look at those boots. You must have had those for ages? I’ll bet they could tell some stories…” “Well, no. I bought them last week and a robot with sandpaper on its arm in a Gucci factory in Taiwan rubbed it and all its friends in exactly the same places for exactly the same amount of time.” Cool anecdote, huh?

All that’s required is a little patience. Waiting for your jeans to scuff and stretch and fray. Yes, it will take a while, but dark denim jeans look better with every wash and bout of horseplay. If you’re not the waiting-type, you can buy things that wear out very quickly. Which brings me, inevitably, on to suede.

It’s the neediest of all materials. I love suede shoes – the look, the feel, the way that the suede can take the edge off an otherwise very formal bit of footwear. Until recently I’ve been obsessive about trying to keep them in pristine condition. But the fact is, maintenance is nigh on impossible. Brushing never quite works; none of those bloody sprays offers any significant protection – and I say that as a man who has been a slave to the heavy post-purchase application. I go through suede shoes faster than – well, definitely faster than I should.

However, I have finally found peace. I have realised that suede shoes (and jackets) with stains and markings actually look good. Preferable, even. Including beige ones. So I’ve loosened right up. I’ve been wearing my Hudson suede Derbys in all weathers. They look great for it. And for the less adventurous, a black pair can take a fair bit of punishment without showing so much damage. I’ve just got my hands (feet) on a pair of Clarks Preston desert boots in black. I’m going to trash them! In a good way.

Lauren Laverne on fashion: surviving the January sales

Leave a comment

sales bargains

 

I used to be a really good shopper. I doubt that counts as an actual talent (though it was certainly useful), but I was. I can’t remember the last time I went, mind you. Between two small children and a busy work schedule, the only real-life shopping I get to do these days takes place in a miniature plastic supermarket on my living-room carpet, where the till is run by a two-year-old (the place is a gyp, by the way. He insists everything is £20, even a lone, imaginary egg). I miss it. Not this weekend, of course. Sales are hell. I mean, the idea is lovely, obviously. It’s just the no-parking-spaces, endless-queuing, where-do-you-put-your-big-coat and racks-of-“morning-after”-Christmas-tat I can’t bear. And the people. The people are all bastards (except you).

But the lure of a bargain is strong and – as we’ve established – you are a nicer person than me. So if you are going, and want to get ahead with spring/summer trends, here’s what to buy.

Neon It will be huge news well into 2013. I love it but, if it gives you Agadoo flashbacks, might I suggest dipping a toe in the water with some accessories first?

White It doesn’t suit everyone (or a life that requires you to do anything other than stay indoors, drinking milk) but all-white looks featured at Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Richard Nicoll and Margaret Howell.

Bombers The jacket of next season. As Happy Days‘s Fonzie would doubtless have commented: “Eeeeeyyyy!”

Pearlescent fabrics The collections positively shimmered at Burberry, Dior, Mary Katrantzou and Diane Von Furstenberg. De-Christmas any sales shimmer you pick up by teaming it with a block of neutral colour.

Crop tops Me neither. Let’s move on.

Snakeskin You may think of it as the preserve of leathery rockers (and, I guess, snakes) but Preen made snakeskin print cool again, contrasting it with oversized florals and breezy nautical stripes at its spring/summer show. You can do that now by buying two cheap things and wearing them together! The magic of fashion.

Classics I consider this a subjective term – classics are in the eye of the beholder. Now is the time to buy extra jeans in your favourite cut, or anything in black.

 

How to buy a great winter coat

Leave a comment

Hooded coat

 

Interesting that you should say that warmth and protection from water are “obvious”, Marla, because the vast majority of coat manufacturers – and even coat buyers – do not seem to be of that opinion. When my fellow graduates of Fashion Writing School pen articles predicated on the idea that most people have more than one winter coat, I must admit that my gob is smacked. More than 20 pairs of shoes? Totally reasonable. More than one winter coat? Marie Antoinette-ish insanity! Nonetheless, despite my coat asceticism, I have built up over the years a collection of coats so great it will probably soon need to be housed in the Wallace Collection. This is not because I have altered in my opinion that one should be monogamous to a coat, at least for one winter. Rather it is because I – for too long – proved utterly unable to buy a winter coat that was halfway warm, and for that I blame both myself and the coats.

Oh sure, these coats had covered buttons, nifty cuts, pretty collars, elegant belts – but what they never seemed to have was warmth. To be honest, it was a bit like dating. You go out there thinking, “Yes, yes, I know what I want: I want someone kind, smart, thoughtful, funny and not addicted to anything”, and you come home with a sociopathic monster with a cocaine problem, just because he has pretty eyes. But at least you can shake off the sociopathic cokehead – with the coat, you’re stuck shivering until March.

I used to think that my coat problem stemmed from my coat cheapness: I only buy coats on the high street. I was disabused of this theory when my mother one year very sweetly bought me a posh coat for my birthday, which was lovely (thanks, Mum!) but utterly useless in temperatures below 15C (sorry, Mum!)

And I get it, of course I do. Coat manufacturers spend more time making their coats look pretty because prettiness tempts consumers more quickly than practicality, which is why I own about 12 coats I can’t wear and have met more sociopathic weirdos than a person should know in five lifetimes.

But there comes a point when covered buttons and sociopathy just don’t do it for you any more, no matter how pretty the buttons or eyes. You want something (or someone) that makes you feel, I don’t know, content. But does that mean sacrificing prettiness? Settling for spinach and forsaking chocolate cake?

No, Marla, it does not. For example, last winter I was living in New York and it became so cold I bought, in an afternoon of frostbitten despair, a floorlength padded coat that made me more look more Glo-Worm than human. I was now warm (and a worm), yes, but the feeling it brought of having been essentially dehumanised somewhat mitigated the sense of pleasure. And then I came back to London, headed straight to Topshop and bought the most amazing duffle coat for a mere £90 that has now seen me snugly through two winters and will last at least two more.

So, warmth and attractiveness can go together. But there are some things you need to look out for in order for this to work. First, make sure the coat is of a length that will work with the rest of your wardrobe: ie, don’t buy a mid-thigh coat if most of your clothes go down to your knee. Only get a coat with big pockets, otherwise you will lose your gloves and hat within a month, guaranteed. Ensure the coat properly does up all the way (not a given with a duffle coat – you need a zip or snaps as well as the toggles). And, most of all, get a coat with a hood.

Why don’t all coats have hoods? Why does the tide go in and out? Why are we all here on this planet? Why? Why? But most of all, why don’t all coats have hoods?

Hoods are my non-negotiable essential on winter coats from hereon, ever since my beloved Topshop duffle taught me what I’d been missing all this time. It’s like the first time you go out with someone who’s not a total creep and you realise: “Oh wait! I’m supposed to be happy in a relationship! Who knew?” I feel the same about coats with hoods: “Oh, my head can be warm in the winter? Amazing!” Hoods protect the blowdry and protect the head in a way a hat can rarely manage.

So you see, it really isn’t easy. Just stop wasting your time on hoodless sociopathic coats with a cocaine problem.

Older Entries