Fashion by numbers

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Indy Lifestyle Online
You won't yet have heard of Six Eight Seven Six unless you are a serious fashion nerd, but you soon will. The clothes, seemingly simple shirts, jackets and trousers, are for men of the Nineties who are stylish, modern, and willing to spend good money on functional clothes with an interesting edge. Right now the label is generating talk, and its unassuming designer Kenneth MacKenzie doesn't quite know why. It's pretty obvious to onlookers, however, that he has tapped into the mood of the moment, and because of the mysterious nature of the label (no press office, no obvious name behind it) the rumours have sprung up. "It's a Belgian collective," said one "in-the-know" friend, "tickets to their fashion shows are like gold dust." They sure are - 6876 don't show on the catwalk. Another said: "The "68" is the year the designer was born, and "76" is the year the business partner was born." Also wrong. According to Dundee-born MacKenzie, 35, his company was named after the 1968 situationist movement in Paris and the rise of punk in 1976. "It's half ironic, half serious, a fashion wind-up really, and I chose numbers because I didn't want my name on it," he says.

It has been going for only three years, sells to the best shops in London, Paris, Tokyo and New York, and men (and some women) talk about stitching details, hems, plackets, and cuffs in the way they discuss the latest features on their mobile phones.

Another rumour going around is that MacKenzie is about to be offered a big job at Jil Sander or Prada, which, of course, is rubbish. "People keep saying to me that I'm going to be massive," MacKenzie says, "but I will only do what I do for my own label."

Maybe it's because what MacKenzie did two years ago, others are now doing. He did a fashion degree in Preston, and graduated in 1984. He didn't go into design straight away, instead working for Duffer of St George on their sales. He started his label very quietly in 1995, but gained instant notoriety when bigwigs at The Face and Arena magazines used and wore his clothes (initially inspired by obscure military detailing, and later by wartime German graphics) at every opportunity.

Talking to MacKenzie is refreshing. When I ask about the spring/summer collection (featured here) which has just gone into Duffer, Browns' main shop, and Liberty, he gets out a pencil and paper and sketches unseen, but all-important details. "This jacket, made from bonded cotton with a polyurethane coating, has a one-piece sleeve, three hidden pockets and a double yoke. This raincoat has a button-off hood, and a half-rib collar, and the pockets have outer stitching..." Sketch, sketch.

One of his many fans discusses MacKenzies clothes in the same way. "Last year he shortened the hem on his trousers by an inch, and widened the cuff on his jackets. They were brilliant."

These small details are the things that excite truly fashionable men today rather than big logos and branding. What's more, because it's affordable - pounds 75 for a shirt, pounds 225 for a jacket, pounds 110 for trousers - it's accessible too.

But only while stocks last.

All available from Browns, 23-27 South Molton Street, London W1 and Liberty, Regents Street, London W1 Enquiries 0181-960 4864