The final piece of the puzzle
High-street label Jigsaw returns to its Nineties roots with the revival of its menswear range. Welcome back! says Rebecca Gonsalves
Ask a fashion-conscious gentleman of a certain age about Jigsaw Menswear and his ebullient response may come as a surprise.
The brand, which first burst on to a somewhat arid high street in 1994, hit its apex at the time when the good ship Cool Britannia ruled the waves, before sinking almost without trace in 1999.
Menswear has gained ever more prominence in recent years, leading to the debut of a standalone event – the London Collections: Men – in June, so now seems the perfect time for the revival of this much-loved brand.
The move is spearheaded by design director Frances Walker, who was tempted from a two-decade career with Nicole Farhi menswear, which she had helped to launch after leaving university.
"I loved the original," she says. "I remember when it came on the scene and I realised it was using the same fabrics we were [at Nicole Farhi]. It had these great prices and the quality was really high – that's what always really impressed me about it.
"That's what I'm trying to do with the brand this time around."
Steering clear of the conceptual direction in which the label was taken towards the end of its previous incarnation, she is more interested in ensuring that the range has broad appeal.
"I'm not trying to replicate what it was. It's not about being of the moment so much in menswear now; it's not about being conceptual and wildly fashion forward – it's about having great clothing. Jigsaw Menswear isn't going to be out there in the Helmut Lang/Prada way that it was at the end of the 1990s."
This may seem like a shame to those who remember the progressive collections of the past, but it is true that, in London at least, there are plenty of young designers who are willing to push that envelope.
"There's a massive resurgence in menswear at the moment," says Walker. "I'm not trying to do a heritage brand, either. I think there's a heritage of men's clothing, as opposed to a heritage brand." Instead Jigsaw Menswear is pitched at the discerning male aged between 20 and 60, and Walker took inspiration from a variety of men who are "sexy and charismatic, in an unkempt masculine way".
For the summer collection Walker imagined that the original Jigsaw client had "lost everything at sea" and faced the task of restocking an empty wardrobe. "Everything has a worn-in feel – so everything feels a bit familiar."
Initially the collection – made up of chinos in Portuguese cotton and fisherman knit jumpers alongside tailored suiting – will find its home in established Jigsaw stores, while a menswear flagship will launch in London's Spitalfields later this month.
Stylist: Lee Holmes
Photographer: Brian Daly
Grooming: Simon Izzard at blushessalon.co.uk
Model: Alex at Select
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