Top man: From knit-wits Sibling, to 'plank' star Craig Green, meet Britain's cutting-edge menswear designers

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

To celebrate the first year of London Collections: Men, we assembled a cabal of blokey fashion talents and asked them to parade their own wares. With nary a three-piece in sight

CRAIG GREEN: Upping sticks

The 27-year-old Central Saint Martin's graduate inadvertently found himself on the receiving end of Middle England's confused ire when he debuted his wooden facial sculptures as part of London Collections: Men in January this year. David Gandy openly mocked Green's work on Alan Carr's Chatty Man while the Daily Mail's headline 'What a Plank!' is Green's favourite quote from a review to date. Looking past the face-furniture though, Green is an extremely talented textile developer with an exciting vision.

Growing up in London, Green never really had a style inspiration but remembers being bought a pair of LA Gear black trainers with red lights in the sole at the age of seven. His most recent purchase was a pair of black Nike Air Force 1 trainers, so it seems safe to say he knows what he likes.

Green always wanted to be a sculptor or painter, and claims his move into fashion was an accident, choosing menswear design over womenswear because he was better at making stuff for men at college.

He designs for somebody who has an appreciation for technique, craft and things that have been touched by human hands, and his creations are something of an anti-digital reaction, which goes some way to explaining the most important item in his studio – a plastic, cross-stitched, orange, white and brown adjustable calendar.

Craig Green wears Craig Green, other-shop.com

Jonathan Saunders designs for a man who takes pride in his appearance and wants to make a statement (Ronald Dick) Jonathan Saunders designs for a man who takes pride in his appearance and wants to make a statement (Ronald Dick)
JONATHAN SAUNDERS: A dog's life

Jonathan Saunders initially studied furniture design, but it is fashion’s great gain that the Glaswegian transferred to a printed textiles course at Glasgow School of Art before following up those studies with an MA from Central Saint Martins. Just days after he showed his final collection at the famous London college in 2003, Saunders had been commissioned to design prints for Alexander McQueen. His bird of paradise print for McQueen’s spring/summer 2003 collection became one of the most photographed of the season.

Something of a darling of the womenswear scene, thanks to his way with print and colour, the 35-year-old designer added menswear to his repertoire for spring/summer 2012. When designing for men, he starts with pieces he would want to wear himself, making it a personal and fun process. His style inspiration, perhaps surprisingly for one so fond of acid brights and sharp suiting, was Kurt Cobain, and his first memorable clothing purchase was a Morrissey T-shirt, at the age of 13.

As well as to fill his own wardrobe, Saunders designs for a man who takes pride in his appearance and wants to make a statement. He is not afraid to mix in a bit of colour into the everyday and to generally stand out from the crowd a little. Saunders hopes to offer him something a bit unexpected yet practical, and in the words of fashion writer Tim Blanks: "a perverse sense of colour".

Jonathan Saunders wears Jonathan Saunders, Liberty, Regent Street, London W1

The knitwear collective Sibling is proof that a huge amount of skill goes into designing and creating knitwear that is at once modern, exciting and covetable (Ronald Dick) The knitwear collective Sibling is proof that a huge amount of skill goes into designing and creating knitwear that is at once modern, exciting and covetable (Ronald Dick)
SIBLING: The wool pack

Knitting is not as easy as nimble-needled nannas make it out to be. The knitwear collective Sibling, born in 2008, is proof that a huge amount of skill goes into designing and creating knitwear that is at once modern, exciting and covetable. Spotting a definite gap in the marketplace for colour, humour and pattern in menswear, a recent sea change in the market can be attributed to the trio: Joe Bates, Sidney Bryan and Cozette McCreery who combine sources of inspiration as diverse as Quentin Crisp and McCreery's parents who dressed incredibly glamorously and never pushed their tomboy daughter into wearing frocks.

The joy of dressing up is a huge part of the designers' aesthetic, with thematic explorations helping to create a narrative each season, explaining not only the recent purchase of a giant vintage denim jumpsuit from a flea market in New York by Bates, but also McCreery's investment in a leopard-print, fake-fur coat by Simone Rocha to channel her not-so-inner Bet Lynch.

Designing for everyone and no one in particular, the Sibling gent is somebody who likes to smile, is perhaps also partial to a beer, but above all is a very welcome addition to the fold. Working collectively, the relationship between the three is, fittingly, like that of siblings, as each brings a different set of skills to the team and each was propelled in the same direction by various influences, including Jean Paul Gaultier, who McCreery cites as a fashion godmother who encouraged her to "go for it" when she met him in her early twenties. For Bryan, knitting is in his blood and would be whether he was with his fellow Siblings or not.

Sibling wear Sibling, mrporter.com

The nostalgic Nineties pop culture Christopher Shannon references in his shows is a starting point for his forward-looking collections (Ronald Dick) The nostalgic Nineties pop culture Christopher Shannon references in his shows is a starting point for his forward-looking collections (Ronald Dick)
CHRISTOPHER SHANNON: Sporty spice

The wit and acid tongue of the Liverpudlian designer enlivens the Twitter feeds of all who follow him. But there is more to the 33-year-old's repertoire than just a few bon mots. The nostalgic Nineties pop culture he references in his shows is a starting point for his forward-looking collections. Shannon admits that he doesn't spend much time looking back, finding it harder to remember the pieces from the past as his collections expand to meet the needs of a growing roster of stockists.

Shannon was influenced by his upbringing, his mum filled the house with creative people: singers, art students and drag queens, but it was Neneh Cherry – her music, videos and artwork as well as her representation of the Buffalo movement – who a young Shannon first saw as the real deal. Wearing a hooded tracksuit and a leather Africa pendant to school elicited a rather confused reaction from the residents of suburban Liverpool, but it didn't quash his eccentric habits.

Music is obviously still important to Shannon, who retains a teenage dream of becoming a music director. More recently, he has channelled such energy into his collections, choosing instead to dress in what he refers to as prison-y attire: blue shirts and black jeans from Ralph Lauren, Prada and Uniqlo, but adding an element of exuberance with a ridiculous accessory or two.

Christopher Shannon wears Christopher Shannon, Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, London SW1

Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding met at Central Saint Martins in 2007. They have expanded a repertoire of white shirts with a twist into a covetable statement of intent (Ronald Dick) Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding met at Central Saint Martins in 2007. They have expanded a repertoire of white shirts with a twist into a covetable statement of intent (Ronald Dick)
PALMER HARDING: Pretty shirty

Texan-born Levi Palmer, aged 32, met Matthew Harding, aged 28 and from Hertfordshire at Central Saint Martins in 2007, where they were studying menswear and womenswear respectively. They have expanded a repertoire of white shirts with a twist – most literally as a spiral pleat, a design feature that is worked into every collection – into a covetable statement of intent. While their customers are from a range of ages and backgrounds, the pair find it best to design for themselves. Indeed, they admit they no longer shop – but simply order from their own collection.

Looking at the pair's output, it is something of a surprise that they were not always so chic and clean-minded: Harding admits to an unusual style idol in Harry from 3rd Rock from the Sun – an alien who assimilated on Earth by layering two shirts on top of each other (and teaming them with a tank top) – while Palmer was inspired by Grace Jones, which perhaps explains the youthful purchase of a Jean Paul Gaultier halterneck with a chain in the neck.

The duo began their career in womenswear, before breaking into menswear for spring/summer 2012, finding their first stockist in the renowned retailer Joyce in Hong Kong, and admit a large debt is owed to Jan Strimple, a supermodel from the Eighties who moved into luxury fashion show production.

Palmer Harding wear Palmer Harding, Dover Street Market, Dover Street, London W1

Patrick Grant's charm lies in his humour and self deprecation (Ronald Dick) Patrick Grant's charm lies in his humour and self deprecation (Ronald Dick)
PATRICK GRANT: Great Scot

Savile Row was given a sharp shock when Patrick Grant purchased tailor Norton & Sons in 2005, later launching the more youthful, fashion-led, ready-to-wear label, E Tautz.

The 41-year-old Scot followed an unusual route to design, pursuing a degree in materials science and engineering and an Oxford MBA. Grant's charm lies in his good nature – whether introducing his latest collection or presenting the Great British Sewing Bee, his humour and self deprecation are admirably British qualities.

Grant's foray into menswear, he admits, was more by accident than choice, although he has thrown himself into the task. Fashion writer Charlie Porter said of Grant's work, "Rather than chasing some watered-down or timid idea of what Savile Row should mean, Patrick revels in dressing individuals with all their eccentricities". This review is rather fitting at a time when so much of British menswear is dictated by the binary codes of street vs suits.

Grant has long had an interest in fashion – he fondly remembers the influence the menswear section of Elle magazine had on his look, namely in the guise of a pair of herringbone, Harris Tweed trousers from Next as a teen. Such a passion for sartorial detail is obviously an important aspect of the role of the modern-day tailor – a part Grant has thrown himself into wholeheartedly, ensuring his dream of a life in the Scottish Highlands remains, for now at least, just that.

Patrick Grant wears E.Tautz, etautz.com

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

    £38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

    Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

    £35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

    Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

    £15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

    Day In a Page

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea