The Spring Top 10: Fun, paper and lavender
It’s that time of the year again. Brands have been receiving all the spring clothing they ordered last year, even though they weren’t quite sure whether it would arrive, or be swallowed by an unexpected lockdown.
So rejoice, there are new ideas and cuts and cloths, all pitching to be part of the new season’s wardrobe. These are eight of my favourites. As ever, nice to hear yours too.
Luke Walker is a designer readers will know even if they don’t realise it, as he freelanced for Drake’s for several years, before turning his full attention to his own brand, LEJ.
The brand straddles fashion and classic menswear very effectively, using classic materials but sometimes in unexpected colours, like this blouson in lilac cord or apple-green ventile. And the pieces are all very well thought-out, with the blouson having a vintage-like body shape and large sleeve - as well as, most ingeniously, a hidden cinch in the waistband instead of elastic.
My favourite was the black cord, which is only now available in a couple of sizes. But the sand is great too, and there’s the lilac for bolder readers.
A friend told me recently about this Norfolk-based company, which makes all its outdoorsy products locally. I tried the Celtic jacket above - struck by the wonderful check - and found it an interesting contrast to the types of brands we normally cover on PS.
The jacket is very simple. The material is made by Magee but really quite coarse. It's an open weave, so the jacket has less shape, and there's nothing else helping it - no fusing on the placket or collar, no collar stand. The buttons are plastic - a horn imitation - and there is no cuff at all. The checks are deliberately not matched on the pockets or sleeves to avoid waste, but this is of course also cheaper.
If this were offered by Anderson & Sheppard, it would have all these points, in a softer but clearly still very casual wool. But it would also be three times the price.
I think if you can afford it, a more refined version is what I'd recommend (and think about how many jackets you really need). But that doesn't stop the Carrier Company one from looking great for what it is.
I’ll be writing a piece soon about cardigan fit, particularly if worn as a jacket substitute rather than under one. That’ll focus on the Art Cardi recommended last year, but this year Connolly has introduced a sleeveless cardigan that’s equally interesting and stylish.
The main point on fit is that there’s something very elegant about a relaxed, loose-fitting cardi - more akin to the shawl collar we know and love, rather than fitted waistcoats. And the sleeveless Connolly cardigan does this very nicely, with a width that’s just down off the shoulder, a roomy body and slightly longer length.
They’ve also reused the combination of shetland and cashmere (former on the outside, latter on the inside) from their crewnecks, which has the effect of making the oatmeal colour in particular look rather casual, and suitable for any washed-out pair of jeans, despite actually being quite luxurious.
Chunky casual shoes have never been my style. I know the Paraboot 'Michael' is comfortable, but I always want something more refined, on a slimmer last. I wear Edward Green 'Shanklins', rather than Drake's Crosby boots.
However, readers have asked recently about similar shoes, particularly deck shoes and moccasin styles, from the likes of Yuketen for example. And if I were to wear something along those lines it would be a simple tobacco-suede style like this pair from Yogi. They're soft, unlined and not too chunky, but very comfortable.
They're stocked in the Oliver Spencer 'Studio' store, which often has some interesting pieces and collaborations, including Snow Peak, Rototo and Niwaki.
Mortimer's: Moments in Time
£54, out May (US) and June (UK)
A friend gave me an early copy of this book recently, which charts the history of the society cafe Mortimer’s in New York. It’s not a menswear book, but it tells the story of a period and a social set very intimately, and the clothes are part and parcel of it all - aided by the fact that the founder, Glenn Bernbaum, had worked in fashion and was always a natty dresser.
For anyone that’s interested in the history of fashion, and its importance at particular points in time, this is worth a look. Also, check out the tailoring going on at the launch party of the book at the author’s current restaurant, Swifty’s in Palm Beach. Now I know where all that Scabal is going.
I wasn’t sure last year about this summer panama-style hat offered at Trunk, but I’ve come around. The key, I think, is that while it is fairly smart colour and make, it is soft enough to clearly not be a normal, sharp panama.
Panamas are beautiful, but they look too smart for things like jeans or shorts most of the time, and without them there are precious few options for summer. This paper braid creates a soft brim that folds down and waves a little, all helping to suggest that it’s not as smart as the colour might suggest.
I like the cream, but also available in a browner ‘natural’. And also nice with the ribbon taken off, if you want to remove that touch of formality too.
Fun shirts have never quite been my thing. Nothing wrong with having fun with your clothes - indeed, it’s obligatory - but they always seemed a little gimmicky, whatever the history.
However, of all the ones I’ve seen, Jake Wigham’s recent designs appeal the most. I think it’s because they’re a little quieter, often making use of a single colour and various patterns, rather than feeling like they have to incorporate several - and indeed the same Ivy four or five colours as every other fun shirt.
The John Simons shop on Chiltern Street has a handful of the heavy linen jackets from Vetra that we previously showed André wearing here. They’re great - a tough, substantial cloth that feels more like workwear than any other linen you’ll try.
More are meant to be coming, but as with many things at the moment, there have been delays and delays. A few other shops have some stock - Union Clothing has the Rigging colour in medium and large, and the Vetra shop itself in France has a handful, such as the navy in 42 and the elk in 42 and 44.
In the meantime, John Simons are doing their own linen jackets, in a much more normal weight of linen. For those that find the Vetra too heavy.
Despite the recent slashing of my perfume collection, I still find perfumes endlessly fascinating, and will go along to any Perfumer H launch to hear what Lyn has come up with, or try a new scent from any other maker I respect.
Tom Ford is one of those, based on my personal experiences and the word of those in the industry - who will describe his perfumes as “obviously overpriced, but good and original in a way few other designers are”. Or something like that.
Lavender has a long history as a men’s scent, particularly with something like Trumper’s Lavender Water Cologne. It’s a way to create a fresh, summery perfume without using citrus or vetiver like everyone else. And this is the nicest I’ve tried. Not for everyone, but then who wants to be everyone?
This is a nice way to include an update on Casatlantic, having done a full review on the Mogador trousers last year. Although I haven't tried anything from the new Cypress collection, which launches tomorrow, I have tried another style - El Jadida.
This is a much better fit on me - just that little bit lower on the rise, and with a much more regular leg line. And I tried it in the black linen/cotton, which I also liked. It has a bit of a sheen to it, which some might dislike, and it’s more casual than you might expect. But it’s light and airy, and is an easy way to wear black. They look great with this Adret jacket, for example.
One thing I think it’s worth re-emphasising is that these are simply made trousers - no skirt on the waistband inside, basic fastening and buttonholes. They’re made to be similar to the vintage trousers Nathaniel wears, and not to any dress trousers or indeed the top-end Japanese repro brands. That’s also reflected in the price of course.
And a few others, in brief
- Baudoin & Lange have just launched a deck shoe (above). I'm not sure about these yet. Maybe a bit sleek for a deck shoe, though the materials quality is of course really high
- There is a particular white, summer trouser that's made from a really robust cotton, almost like sail cloth. Margaret Howell's sub-brand MHL has some this season that are like that - great for wearing white trouser rough and casually. They are high rise and pretty wide leg, but the cloth is excellent.
- Doekcanvas shoes remain my summer casual shoe of choice, and I've got my eye on the black canvas at Trunk this summer
- Ralph Lauren Purple Label has a beautifully cut and made cotton cable knit for summer. I love knits with a collar, and haven't seen a cotton one before, but it is obviously expensive. Perhaps one for the sales
- EB Meyrowitz have a (fairly) new frame shape called the Californian which I love - a soft and rounded version of an aviator. Pictured here
- Fedeli long-sleeved polos are one of my favourites for a very casual summer option, often worn tucked out (below). Trunk have the half-button option, while Connolly have the shirt version, buttoning all the way through, under their own label.