The boys are back in town: London is once again the centre of the menswear universe


London fashion is booming. Statements such as this have been uttered since the mid-Nineties and that Vanity Fair 'Cool Britannia' cover, but by and large they have been directed at London's attention-grabbing womenswear scene.

London men's 'fashion' – if you can call it that – is still defined by the caricature of the English gentleman: bowler-hatted, furled umbrella firmly clutched in hand (even under cloudless skies), and decidedly suited and booted. For a touch of variety, the former may be navy blue, or even pinstripe if you're feeling especially avant-garde.

But now, it's London's menswear that's grabbing the limelight. Rather than a dozen shows packed into a day tail-ending the womenswear fashion weeks in February and September, Man now has his own offshoot, titled 'London Collections: Men' and shown alongside the international menswear weeks in January and June. It's only two seasons in, but such is the buzz that Burberry Prorsum has been coaxed back from Milan to showcase its spring 2014 menswear in the capital come June.

It's fitting, because just as Paris is indisputably the beating heart of the women's fashion scene, London has always been the capital for men's attire. Although it's questionable how much fashion came into that equation until now. After all, our menswear is built on the solid – some would say stolid – foundation of the tailored suit, an English innovation of the late-18th century when men switched from silk stockings and knee-breeches to subtly-moulded and pad-stitched wools. The Brits invented the suit, and we are still the home of bespoke.

The collective noun for a group of tailors is a disguiser – and Savile Row is about the only one left in the world. And on 'The Row', the important thing has always been cut and quality over flashy theatrics. As Beau Brummell, the quintessential English gentleman, once said, "If John Bull turns round to look after you, you are not well-dressed; but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable".

What would Beau Brummell have to say about today's generation of young London menswear talent, where the idea seems to be turning heads at all costs, and where a man can never be too fashionable? What would he have made of the provocative pinstripes of JW Anderson, sliced into curvy tops and ruffle-hemmed shorts soaring high above the thigh?

"I've always made sure that, in my own work, there are tailored aspects, and a nostalgic fabric which is reappropriated – a pinstripe, a duffle wool. You use it as a kind of trickery to pull people in," says Jonathan. He is the 'J' of JW Anderson, the ring-leader of London's new generation of high-visibility, high-octane menswear, including the likes of James Long, Martine Rose and Katie Eary. It's highly editorial, too – grabbing media attention, even if it isn't making most buyers grab for their chequebooks. That said, Anderson is savvy enough to back up his mainline collection with saleable knits and shirts.

Realism is something the young London menswear industry is acutely aware of. It has to be; let's face it, men don't really take risks. So when rising star Craig Green boxes his models' faces with enormous picket-fence headpieces, or the up-and-coming Fashion East designer Bobby Abley hoists his models into makeshift spaceships for the ideal Instagram photo-op, they make sure there's also a saleable collection hanging on the rail. The days of fly-by-your-pants fantasy coupled with zero business acumen are over in womenswear. In menswear, they never even began.

The counterpart to the Young Upstarts are the Classicists; not just traditional tailors like Richard James showing on-schedule, but the hefty likes of Tom Ford. After dressing Bond for Skyfall, it felt natural for Ford to pitch up and show his wares in London. "I like men in classic clothes," he declared, name-checking mid-century Cary Grant (an Englishman, after all) for an autumn/winter collection that included such outré menswear delights as a baby-pink Fair Isle knit in swansdown-soft cashmere and calf-length wild fox overcoats, alongside seven different tie widths. God is in the details.

It's the same with designers such as Richard Nicoll and Jonathan Saunders; as with their resolutely quiet, considered womenswear, they thrill through subtle design details rather than the grand gesture. "It allows me to do things that come quite naturally to me that sometimes I can't do for womenswear," says Saunders of his men's line, now in its fourth season. "There's a more stripped-back approach to it; there's a graphicness to it which is sometimes quite difficult in womenswear. And there's a simplicity to it." Despite the centuries, it's an ethos Beau would agree with.

Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living