The inaugural London Collections: Men brought together an array of designers and brands to celebrate men’s fashion and catapulted London into the heart of an industry that has long been dominated by Milan and Paris. Established name Hackett and young Chinese designer Xander Zhou held their first London shows, Oliver Spencer and Topman presented their latest collections and Dunhill, Pringle and Burberry all held special events.
London has a plethora of talent, from established names to a new generation of young designers graduating from the city’s world-class fashion colleges. And with the eyes of the world on London in this Olympic and Diamond Jubilee year, 2012 is an inspired time to launch London Collections: Men.
Hackett held its first catwalk show at the Royal Opera House; Jeremy Hackett, the founder of the brand, took inspiration from the Great Gatsby and Brideshead Revisited to produce a collection of fine seersucker tailoring in brown, blue and white with an Indian-inspired casual element that included green, yellow and checks. The models ended the show in traditional bowler hats and city tailoring to celebrate a very British affair.
Topman, the renowned high-street store, showed the Topman Design collection, a more exclusive, high-end range, at an old post office on Holborn. The collection, aimed at the young, included shorts and jackets in graffiti-style prints inspired by the American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, very 80s and New York-inspired – which took me back to my youth.
Paul Smith, one of Britain’s most famous designers, didn’t show in London as he has been showing in Paris since the 1970s but he did take part in a Q&A with esteemed fashion journalist Suzy Menkes from the International Herald Tribune. The event at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts was an interesting insight into the mind of a very successful designer and how he sustains his business, from a down-to-earth point of view that is often rare in this business.
Pringle of Scotland, the knitwear brand founded in 1815, has grown into a internationally renowned company. Alistair Carr, Pringle’s creative director, showed his final collection for the brand. It was strong on twin sets, contemporary argyles in the brand’s signature diamonds and cool, lightweight jackets perfect for British summers.
Oliver Spencer has been taking the menswear market by storm and recently opened a number of cool stores around London. The spring/summer 2013 collection was a mix of British tailoring and streetwear inspired by modern Russian art and the collection of relaxed tailoring, outerwear and knitwear with flashes of colour was wearable, contemporary and cool.
Dunhill, whose Mayfair store is one of my favourite men’s shops in London, held a very British party at the Coach and Horses pub in Mayfair that included a pub quiz, Scotch eggs and sausage rolls to show the Chinese exactly how we like to party in London.
Scottish designer Christopher Kane launched his first menswear collection in an intimate presentation for buyers only. Kane is one of London’s new generation of successful designers; he has won numerous awards and is stocked in stores around the world, including Browns, Liberty, Dover Street Market, Joyce and Corso Como – a future name to watch in the world of menswear.
Belstaff, which is about to launch a huge new store on Bond Street, held a presentation of its renowned leather and outerwear with updates on the classic Belstaff jacket. Guests at the event included footballer Rio Ferdinand, David Furnish and the Earl of Mornington, proving every stylish man should have a Belstaff jacket in his wardrobe.
To end the successful weekend, Burberry celebrated in style with a party hosted by creative director Christopher Bailey at the menswear store in Knightsbridge. With guests that included Sir Elton John and Burberry model and actor Eddie Redmayne and Miles Kane performing this was a great way to end London Collections: Men.
Gary Kingsnorth is editor of The Style King