Sit down, have a beer, enjoy yourself. ShortList’s Marcus Jaye discovers the new way for men to shop in London’s West End
British menswear is booming.
From its own dedicated men’s fashion week – London Collections: Men – to a high street that is the envy of the world, men’s fashion in this country is becoming the benchmark for international male style.
Recent figures show it’s growing at twice the rate of the women’s sector, with an anticipated growth of 16 per cent to 2016, reaching a whopping £13.7bn in annual sales by 2021.
Hoping to capitalise on this booming menswear scene are some the world’s more luxurious brands, who are responding by opening dedicated, men-only retail experiences. Labels such as Burberry, Double RL, McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo have all opened stores dedicated to their menswear collections over the past couple of years.
Containing everything from bars to barbers, cinemas to cellars, brands including Ermenegildo Zegna – which recently opened a store on Sloane Street – are debuting services such as its ‘Personalisation Project’, where men dictate the fabrics and add finishing touches to suits, raincoats, cashmere and accessories. Finally getting the retail environments we deserve, these temples to male style are tailored to our every need.
1. Paul Smith
46 Beak street, London W1; 020-7287 9998
Paul Smith’s new men’s store is spread over two floors and was inspired by Giò Ponti’s Villa Planchart. Clothes, shoes and accessories sit alongside Fifties cane and plywood furniture, an extensive selection of books, art and Smith-type curios.
This is the first store to offer Paul Smith’s new bespoke jeans service. There is a choice of four fits – drainpipe, tapered, standard and classic – which can be altered to the desired length in raw or rinsed denim. There is also a choice of different cloths, rivet, leather back patch, and thread colour options; six custom designed pocket bags from a classic stripe and geometric patterns to a commissioned Soho illustration. The store also sells limited quantities of products imported from Japan and made-in-England items from collaborations with British mills and factories.
2. Dolce & Gabbana
53-55 New Bond street, London W1; 020-7495 9250
Nobody does dark and broody Italian like Dolce & Gabbana. Constructed to mimic the apartment of a gentleman who lives in London but is in love with Sicily, the new store has been finished with Italian fabrics mixed with vintage English furniture and contemporary art pieces.
The three floors take in the entire Dolce & Gabbana men’s universe, and feature exclusive pieces including crocodile skin accessories, morning suits, eveningwear and a ‘London Tailoring Collection’. There is a Sicilian barbershop with antique Italian chairs and counters finished in Canaletto walnut on the ground floor. So, even if you’re more Putney than Palermo, you can still get that Dolce Vita finish.
43 Conduit street, London W1; 020-7437 1740
Berluti’s first ‘Maison’, spread over three floors of a listed Victorian townhouse, is the first example of Berluti’s new retail direction. It’s grown from a French brand known for its luxurious shoes to a fully fledged high-end men’s fashion house under the creative direction of designer Alessandro Sartori.
Housing the new bespoke and ready-to-wear collections, the store is a homage to the masculine; wooden parquet floors run throughout, even covering the ceiling for a mirror-effect.
The shop floor is peppered with touches of Berluti’s impeccable craftsmanship, such as the stitching on armchairs, desks, balustrades and door-handles. Specialist customer service areas are seamlessly interwoven into the space for repairs and patina consultations, plus there’s a dedicated bespoke and VIP area.
Thankfully, leather antique club chairs are there to relax in while you talk to the label's specialist team about how aged-looking you’ll want your new pair of Venezia leather monk straps to be.
Bourdon House, 2 Davies street, London W1; 020-7853 4440
A veritable gentleman’s amusement park, Alfred Dunhill’s Bourdon House in the heart of Mayfair was once the London residence of the Duke Of Westminster. Now it houses a spa, barber, screening room and bar – not to mention the luxurious retail options.
Every Thursday, Dunhill’s head leather-craftsman comes to the house – spread over three floors of this 1720 Georgian mansion – to take orders for leather goods and personalised embossing and to answer any customer questions or specific requests.
When shopping fatigue finally kicks in, the Dunhill Cellar Bar offers food and drink, or you could just sit under the shade of the 200-year-old Mayfair plane in the courtyard and enjoy an old fashioned.
5. Gant Rugger
47 Beak street, London W1; 020-7734 8365
A younger men’s line, Rugger, captures the Ivy League style that first inspired Mr Bernard Gant when he launched the brand in 1949. This store is styled to feel like an offshoot of the Yale campus in New Haven where it all started for Gant.
Now designed in Sweden by Christopher Bastin, Gant Rugger straddles the best of mid-century US menswear with a European fit. Offering timeless preppy classics such as Oxford shirts, blazers and chinos, the shop has a relaxing lounge area for guys to hang out in, chat, read US magazines such as The Selby while grabbing a beer from the fridge.
Billed as a local neighbourhood store, it brings a slice of timeless Americana to the centre of London. Perfect for all those wannabe JFKs.