Jacket £65, sweatshirt £45; all James Long for River Island, riverisland.com, available from 24 February

London designer James Long is the latest to bring  his talents to River Island, writes Rebecca Gonsalves

While the idea of a tie-up between mass and exclusive brands has been rigorously explored over the last decade, there is still plenty to excite if the combination is right, and James Long for River Island is a case in point. While the Royal College of Art graduate may not garner as much interest as some of his more spotlight-grabbing colleagues, he is without doubt a designer with an appealing perspective on how men should dress. A fact that the high street brand is in agreement with, if the 10-piece collaboration is anything to go by.


The collection goes on sale online and in selected stores on Tuesday, with Long’s sportswear influences, singular use of colour and signature fabric blending are all present and correct. A hooded jacket printed with Long’s own doodle-like illustrations is a highlight, not least because the sleeves zip off to leave a padded gilet – the two-for-one element making it even more of a bargain. Elsewhere, the graphic use of stripes elevates staples such as jogging bottoms and sweatshirts into fashion-forward propositions that shouldn’t be reserved for getting sweaty in the gym, while a boxy backpack is a great accent piece for those less adventurous with their clothing.

Because of lower costs and tighter profit margins, high street collaborations can often fall down when it comes to fabric – but it seems that Long has not been forced to compromise on one of the areas in which he is known to excel, using neoprene and PVC to great effect, while nylon has been appliqued, fused and generally used in interesting ways.