Until now, two very different stereotypes have been successfully co-habiting in the thriving London fashion scene. One fuses urban-influenced sportswear with multi-cultural references - from London’s Asian and Turkish communities to a mix of hip-hop and rude boy, all thrown together with a 1980s nu-rave twist. This is a place inhabited by designers such as Katie Eary, KTZ and an exciting new name to watch, Agi & Sam, which this season were all showing at the Fashion East Men Installations.
At the opposite end of the spectrum we have the more established labels that are putting a clean spin on traditional tailoring techniques and igniting a renaissance in heritage elegance, such as E. Tautz and Hardy Amies.
While these two opposing schools of thought (the experimentalists and the traditionalists) still continue to bloom, there is now a more varied cross-pollination of styles filling in the grey area between.
Whether that be J.W Anderson’s arts and crafts take on modern minimalism (two worlds that shouldn’t naturally co-exist), Oliver Spencer’s ‘knock about’ boisterous-meets-city-chic collection of creased wearable separates in jolts of washed colour, or Burberry Prorsum’s Notting Hill trustafarian take on African tribal.
The best collections shown in the capital included Mr Start, with crisp casual suitings, in pale chalky shades, worn with collarless shirts and white tennis shoes (what everyone ‘should’ wear if they live in L.A). James Long, who worked snake print into loungewear and still kept it commercial and modern and Topman Design, which instead of exposing any of its high street roots, looked as luxe and sophisticated as anything you would find at Gucci or Prada – it was all about the paisley print, the man clutch and silk pyjamas.
New names to watch include Shaun Samson, who showed at the MAN commune. He borrowed influences from his own San Diego upbringing using Navajo stripes and grunge and surf references for oversized silhouettes and Rake, who epitomised the new casual, softer elegance in formal tailoring – also a big trend shown at E. Tautz by Patrick Grant, who borrowed his inspiration from athleticism that was common in the 1920s.
If pushed to choose one item that will be at the top of everyone’s shopping list for next spring, it is shorts, in every form. Hardy Amies, a fitting finale to the day, showed them best in their most formal of incarnations – as short suits, with matching double-breasted jackets. Whereas Lou Dalton, who shunned the trend, showed a slim-fit silhouette just above the knee (think cycling short proportions without the dodgy lycra) in tufted cotton drill or white denim.
(Images: J.W. Anderson, Oliver Spencer, Topman Design, Burberry, Hardy Amies, Lou Dalton, Shaun Samson, E. Tautz, James Long)