London menswear shows: These boots were made for walking – the catwalk that is

Fashion finds inspiration from the great explorers, discovers Harriet Walker
  • @harrywalker1

The first day of menswear shows in London threw up an unlikely must-have for autumn 2013: the hiking boot.

See Lou Dalton AW13 catwalk photos

The sturdy lace-up style featured at several shows yesterday, most prominently at Topman Design, the high street brand's upmarket catwalk collection. They were trimmed with gold leather and suede, complementing cropped parkas and double-breasted suits in white, orange and oxblood that referenced the gentleman explorers of the early twentieth century. Pleat-fronted Oxford bags in drill and waxed cotton were tucked into thick hiking socks, and oversized rucksacks dripped blinged-up compasses and orienteering kit.

The theme was also developed at Bally as the Italian leather goods company this year marks 60 years since it created the reindeer-lined boots that Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay wore to climb Mount Everest in 1953. The label's new range included modern updates of the classic 'Tourist' and 'Winner' models, originally designed for skiing but more likely to be seen pounding the pavements come September.

Chunky eyelet boots stomped down the catwalk at Lou Dalton's show too, as part of a collaboration between the up-and-coming London talent and distinguished British cobblers Grenson, although the original 'monkey boot' had been streamlined for a more office-friendly look.

Boilersuits added a utilitarian feel, and Dalton was even brave enough to resurrect the dreaded cargo pant, albeit it fashionably in accordance with her signature slim-fitting cropped trouser cut.

Elsewhere, designers looked to the classic English gent, with ex-McQueen pattern-cutters Agi & Sam, part of Fashion East's MAN mentoring scheme. They showed glen plaid puffas and lozenge print trousers, reworked in bright green and coral, as well as hooded Beagle print dressing gown coats inspired by the eccentric Marquess of Bath. Sharply tailored blazers came with witty zip-backs, and models walking bloodhounds wore fake mutton chop sideburns.

The capital's current enfants terribles Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff also chose to subvert tradition, presenting shrunken waistcoats, paper-bag waist trousers and pseudo-Edwardian knickerbocker shorts on models with flaxen locks and Alice bands, who posed among apocalyptics heaps of rubbish bags.

The shows continue today with the highly anticipated return of the Alexander McQueen men's line to home turf. The house usually presents the range in Milan, but has this season joined London's bid for increased international focus on its menswear designers.

PM: underneath, I'm an M&S man

David Cameron welcomed the great and good of the British fashion industry to Downing Street yesterday evening as he hosted a reception to celebrate the opening of London men's fashion week.

Mr Cameron said that the Government was fully behind the British fashion industry, but admitted he had little fashion knowledge himself.

Pre-empting the inevitable "Who are you wearing?" questions, the Prime Minister revealed that his underwear came from Marks & Spencer.