Men’s Free Style

Best fit forward
January 15, 2009, 11:21
Filed under: Discussion | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The web has been buzzing this week with rumours that brand du jour Uniqlo is preparing to enter the vanguard of designer collaborations by hooking up with Steven Alan (best known in the US for his sharper-than-a-knife but pricey collections).

I first spotted it in this New York Magazine article, and then later came across a Telegraph piece extolling the virtues of a new tailored menswear collection Uniqlo has planned for Spring 2009. I can’t work out whether these two revelations are linked, especially as the brand’s press department are keeping very quiet about the Steven Alan rumours – but we can sure as hell hope that we will have something very special to look forward to over the next few months.


Sheep in wolf’s clothing
January 8, 2009, 14:07
Filed under: Discussion | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I have previously discussed on this site to the pitfalls of slavishly following fashion trends – be they styles of clothing or individual brands.


Negotiating this particular minefield is made especially difficult by the fact that niche labels that you may have picked up on in their infancy can suddenly tip and end up on the backs every Tom, Dick and Harry in the country – or, indeed, every Josh, Seb and Harry in the case of British brand Jack Wills.

Their clothes have recently become the satorial weapon of choice for our glossy, vacuous teenagers – ‘Nike for the middle classes’ according to the Guardian – an image which has undoubtedly chased away a number of its previous customers. But while the rapid spread of an individual brand can in any instance seriously detract from its style (as opposed to fashion) currency, it will naturally be the ones making their branding the most visible that will be the hardest hit.

A dramatic increase in the use of large logos on its clothes is one obvious change that has accompanied Jack Wills’ rise to prominence (the picture heading up the Guardian article shows this in its full glory). Previously the branding was more or less limited to a discreet ‘JW’ motif, letting the inherent style of the items do the talking.

Now, of course you can argue that the emblazoning of large logos all over Jack Wills’ clothing is precisely what has prompted it to tip into the wider population. But I can only feel that sticking to their original formula – attracting customers with its quality, not its visibility – would have left the brand in a stronger style position than they are in now.

Aim to sustain
December 30, 2008, 16:29
Filed under: Discussion | Tags: , , , ,

The end of a year like 2008 is bringing with it numerous cautionary tales about how our recent attitudes to clothes shopping will have to change and how we must all strive to become ‘recessionistas’.

This recent Times article is in some ways no different, but while it is primarily warning against excessive buying so as to avoid excessive recycling, the following quote caught my eye:

If we spent exactly double the amount of money on each garment and bought exactly half as many garments, nobody would be impoverished by that.

Quality, it seems, is very much back on the agenda – and choosing your fabrics carefully will certainly go a long way towards preventing the ecological problems we currently face.

Looking forward to it?
December 30, 2008, 15:44
Filed under: Discussion | Tags: , , , , ,

We shall soon be saying goodbye to 2008 and welcoming in 2009, so the time has come for me to make the obligatory predictions for the coming 12 months.

This task is always tricky, but given the unforeseen nature of the ‘facelift’ the high street has suffered in 2008, the job has become even harder. One thing that is almost certain, however, is that we will be saying farewell to more shops, but what has not been so well publicised is the difficulties certain brands may also face.

The availability of labels that may in themselves be solid going concerns could well be limited by the fact that the stores they supply are financially insecure. If, as some people have suggested, fashion brands do become more like cash-and-carry businesses, only producing items at short demand from retailers, then their ability to produce clothes of real quality may as a consequence be reduced.


All is not lost, though, as 2009 looks like it will be the year in which the value of clothes will be scrutinised more than ever before (for more on this, see the linked Times article). With more collaborations between designers and our favourite high street shops (Matthew Williamson is next up at H&M) and the credit crunch doing a fine job in some cases of separating the wheat from the chaff, I expect the new year to have more and more people hankering after what this blog is aimed at promoting: well-made, unfussy clothes at affordable prices.

Sales hitch
December 15, 2008, 14:23
Filed under: Advice | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I have up until now only made passing reference to the utility of simple, inexpensive style in the current climate. However, recent events have prompted me to be a little more vocal about it.

You cannot have failed to notice that every shop on every high street has for the past few weeks been desperately trying to tempt you into propping up the ailing economy by splurging on their own merchandise. Sales, just like love at this time of year, are all around.

I have talked about how to play the sales before – saying that they provide the perfect opportunity to pick up great clothes cheaply, not cheap clothes in great numbers – but I think there’s something more important at stake here.

Keeping in mind that looking and feeling great does not have to be accompanied by a hefty price tag will surely allow us all to enjoy what may have to be a toned-down festive period this year. The sales may be working towards a similar goal, but swapping the mad-dash consumerism they inevitably prolong for a more nuanced approach to sating your style needs is likely to pay long-term dividends as the credit crunch continues to bite.

Collaborative skills
November 4, 2008, 13:59
Filed under: Discussion | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Hot on the heels of announcing the introduction of Hollister to London, I am pleased to report that another stylish collection which won’t have you crying over your next credit card statement is almost upon us – and it’s arriving in familiar packaging.

H&M announced a while ago that it was collaborating which Japanese whizz-kids Comme des Garcons, and the results of that collaboration will be available both in the UK (in flagship stores nationwide) and in the US (in New York, Chicago and California) from 13 November.

The collection can be viewed at on the H&M website, but essentially what to expect is a good lot of forward-thinking fashion at very reasonable high street prices. CdG’s general style is well-cut, simple clothing with a twist, and looking at the stuff that’s available we defy anybody not to latch onto at least one must-have item.

With that in mind, get there early and expect a scrum – this is one instance in which style doesn’t come that easy.


Hold it, Mister
October 29, 2008, 18:48
Filed under: Discussion | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Residents of England’s fair capital will undoubtedly have heard that tomorrow brings the grand opening of the Westfield London shopping centre, said to be a largest in Europe (yes, I know it’s not a patch on what you’d find in most major US cities, but we get what we can over here).

Those of you who appreciate the stripped-back style first brought to these shores by Gap will be interested to know that favourite of mine Hollister will be one of the new shops on offer. It won’t be the first in the UK – that honour went to the one that opened a few days ago at Brent Cross – but the Westfield one finds itself in somewhat better surroundings so is likely to receive the most visitors.

You may not be aware of it, but Hollister is the baby brother of Abercrombie & Fitch, which already has one shop in the UK (in central London), and which sparked widespread fury when its doors opened over here as people realised they were in some cases being charged more in pounds than they would be in dollars across the pond.

True to my ethos of seeking out affordable style, I have checked out Hollister’s new prices in London. It appears (and we got the calculators out for this one) that at the current exchange rate you will be paying 28% more in the UK than in the US. I don’t think this is too bad given that at the time Abercrombie launched, its mark-up was around 100%, and in any case the overall price level in Hollister in lower than in Abercrombie despite the clothes appearing to be in many ways of identical quality.

The one thing to watch out for is a trend recently spotted in the US – namely, that the Hollister prices are being raised to levels similar to those seen in Abercrombie (no doubt to counter the inevitable shift in customers from over-priced A&F to reasonably-priced Hollister). Let’s just hope we get a bit of time to enjoy the new wares at Westfield and Brent Cross before the corporates have their wicked way in the UK.