The craftsmanship that goes into every 'Hawkins & Shepherd' handmade shirt, a day in the life of myself from Clapham passing through Jermyn Street to Savile Row, London. The finest Egyptian Cotton, British heritage and London designed. Our Hawkins & Shepherd shirts are market leaders in quality Pin Collar and Tab Collar Shirts.
I'll forgive Canali for their unfamiliar left-justified website which makes me have to shuffle along to that side of my desk into the biscuit crumb and coffee ring zone to view it - as they make epic suits and in particular of the double-breasted variety.
I have, for around 3 years now been a massive fan and wearer of double-breasted, although during that period I have only seen a modest number of gents wearing them in the UK. Designers such as Canali, Berluti, Hardy Amies and Gieves & Hawkes have been using the double-breasted suit jacket in their SS15 and the latest AW15 collections; so prepare for a influx and a revival of this look in our high-streets soon.
The double-breasted suit became popular in the 1930s and remained so all the way until the end of the 1950s and again from the mid 1980s to mid 1990s. I have seen many modern designs on this classic tailoring and therefore the exact way to wear them is dependant to the designer - although I prefer the traditional 6 buttoned layout, done up with one middle button.
If you haven't already, it really is time to add this timeless piece of clothing to your wardrobe. The double-breasted suit can be surprisingly versatile - I recently purchased a lovely Canali suit from Mr Porter (In the sale I have to admit - I'm a poor blogger!) and used the suit in 3 different variations already. The first as a suit, the second with some grey-tone trousers and finally with a pair of black skinny jeans.
THE ITALIANS COURTESY OF CANALI
THE FRENCH COURTESY OF BERLUTI
THE ENGLISH COURTESY OF HARDY AMIES
This week I took the long'ish journey up the M40 towards Birmingham to setup our exhibition stand for Hawkins & Shepherd at Moda.
Moda is the UK's leading fashion trade event and is essential for buyers to explore new and established brands.
Our brand has established a loyal following worldwide throughout the last year and is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. After speaking to many buyers, bloggers, stylists, customers and brands over the past year, it seems that the menswear consumer habits are changing. Brands that base their products on quality fabrics and attention to detail are prevailing as men are becoming more savvy. I would say that mens fashion is moving more and more in the direction of luxury and away from disposable fashion and I applaud that.
So after selling online building our customer base, it was time to offer our lovely handcrafted shirts to retail stores. The event was successful and you'll be seeing our shirts in boutiques across the UK in 2015 and we are working hard to cover every major city - so you all have a chance to try on and appreciate the Hawkins & Shepherd qualities.
Spending 3 days at Moda checking out our competition was good to appreciate other brands and their exceptional qualities and here are my TOP 4.
1. Gibson London (gibsonlondon.com)
What immediately stood out was their phenomenal tailored tweed and herringbone jackets. My personal favourite was a herringbone weave blazer with subtle orange windowpane check and their unique colours discreetly placed on the underside of the collar.
I genuinely I don't believe I have seen such quality at these affordable prices anywhere.
2. Hawkins & Shepherd (hawkinsandshepherd.com)
Okay okay, so its my brand but; hand on heart we were, by a mile the best shirt brand at Moda. We had a large range of collar types and fabrics all handmade with mother of pearl buttons, edge stitching and little touches like embroidered last button hole. Our range is all wearable and affordable luxury, whereas similar shirt brands at the event you could choose only 1 or 2 (if that) that make the grade. I mean there were some truly shocking designs, I was at times thinking to myself, designing a shirt is relatively easy - how can these brands mess it up so badly! I mean, triple layered collars with 6 buttons to do it up, then all sorts of mismatching of fabrics - how do they stay in business?! If you want quality, classic designs that when worn give you the confidence for the day ahead, shop with Hawkins & Shepherd.
3. Dickens & Browne (dickensandbrowne.com)
If you look on their website you'll be mistaken into thinking all they do is polo shirts. This father and son brand caught my eye with my favourite single piece at Moda...a grey chunky roll-neck knit.
4. Peregrine (peregrineclothing.co.uk)
This 'Made in England' brand by J G Glover & Co are producing high quality crafted knitwear here in England and is 100% British...now thats something to be proud of. Feeling the quality of the wools used in their knits and after talking to the brand ambassadors they are passionate about their brand and that was infectious.
If Britain hadn’t already secured its name as the spiritual home of menswear and great tailoring, then you only need to look as far as Oxford shoes and Norfolk jackets just to reiterate it. Prince of Wales check is no exception. Just by scanning through a few photographs from LC:M you get the picture that check tailoring is huge right now. From catwalk designs to men’s street style, there was really only one pattern to be seen in.
As a variation of the Glen Urquhart check, the fabric first gained some popularity with Edward II when he was Prince of Wales in the late 19th Century. What made it more prevalent was his son, Edward III, when he became Prince of Wales. Edward was a trendsetter and many of his ideas have an influence over men’s fashion today. In fact, he became the most photographed celebrity of his time because of his rather eccentric sense of style. Along with his shirt maker, he created the modern evening shirt with front pleats and double cuffs. He also made the wearing of brown shoes with a navy suit acceptable and helped introduce new fashions in men’s casualwear. And of course, he popularised the Prince of Wales check that was named after him. Since then it has retained its regal associations and is still popular with the current Prince of Wales, Charles.
The quintessentially British textile is a woollen fabric with a woven twill design consisting of small and large checks, traditionally made of black/grey and white, but different combinations of grey and navy have been more popular lately.
For those wanting to move beyond menswear’s tailoring basics of solid navy and greys, The Prince of Wales check is easy to style and surprisingly versatile. Worn as a full suit makes a timeless style statement. Alternatively, you can mix and match the blazer with different trousers, or trousers with a different blazer for an up-to-date and slightly more casual look.
What you shouldn't do is mix a Prince of Wales suit with a Prince of Wales shirt, thats just too much! So choose one or the other!
My Prince of Wales Check SHIRT Picks
My Prince of Wales Check SUIT Picks
If you already have a table booked for tomorrow at your nearest Cottage Chicken then clearly you don’t need my advice. Others of you may not be so organised and are still looking for inspiration for Valentine's day celebrations. Turn up on Valentine's night in a Hawkins & Shepherd hand-crafted shirt and they’ll be so impressed they will likely not even notice there’s nothing under the Valentine’s tree for them.
If, on the other hand, you’re a thoughtful person who wants to show their commitment to the lucky man in her/his life, perhaps the gift of a well-fitted, handmade shirt might be in order.
Okay okay, I hear you. He already has enough shirts! Well take a look at my alternative Valentine's gifts for him.
One of the biggest trends to come out of London Collections: Men was the art of mixing and matching tailored pieces. When done correctly, the look is more pared back and casual than a matching suit.
But what does this mean for menswear? The dynamic is changing. With more men than ever taking pride in there appearance and shifting their sartorial preferences up a few notches on the smartness barometer, it was only a matter of time before an element of casual dressing was introduced to loosen things up a little bit. You want to look dapper, but not overdone: it’s a way of dressing up then dressing down.
Mix and Match a Blazer and Trousers
Casually combining different suits has been pulled into the mainstream. Seen at Ede & Ravenscroft, Hackett and Oliver Spencer for LC:M AW15/16, it’s the perfect way to nail smart-casual dressing. Wearing head-to-toe tonal has been big in both mens and womenswear in recent seasons, so an easy way is to try one colour in two different tones. Mix a pale sky-grey with a darker charcoal hue. A different approach to mixing and matching a suit is opting for the same colour but in different fabrics, such as in wool, velvet and tweed.
Mix and Match with a Waistcoat
Adding a waistcoat is a great way to experiment with different colours and tones in your tailoring. Either wear a different coloured waistcoat to your suit or mix a matching waistcoat and blazer with different coloured trousers. Steely greys and inky navies work well for this look.
Mixing and Matching Checks
Want to hit refresh on your checked suit for the New Year? Split up the suit and wear them separately as statement pieces. This smart-casual look will take you to the next level. For the more daring, GQ have created the perfect formula to mixing checked tailoring: “One big pattern + one small pattern + one solid = success”
One final note on mixing and matching suits: you can get away with more colour or pattern in your blazer than the trousers!
THOMAS PINK CREATES UNIQUE PAPER INSTALLATION AND SHOWCASES MICHAEL CAINE INSPIRED AUTUMN/WINTER 2015 COLLECTION AT LONDON COLLECTIONS: MEN
Saturday night at London Collections: Men was an exciting one for myself, as I would be gaining an insight into the brains behind the seasoned veteran in formal menswear aka Thomas Pink, the leading Jermyn St shirt maker who unveiled its London inspired Autumn/Winter 15 Collection at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.
Jermyn Street has always been the epicentre of formalwear and in particular shirts. Being in the shirt business myself with Hawkins & Shepherd (albeit a very new niche player), I have the upmost respect for my competition as they have been there done it, gone through tough times and great times and are still able to design what we as a consumer expect and love.
Obviously the designs on show are the main interest but Thomas Pink also totally nailed the atmosphere surrounding the event with a backdrop of a 30ft ‘long bar’ constructed entirely out of paper, each model bartender and punter showcased a different ‘Pink’ look.
Florence Torrens, Creative Director at Thomas Pink, says; “Shirts will always be at the heart of what we do, but they inspire other pieces to complete the look. At Thomas Pink we’re broadening our offer to include more tailoring, outerwear and knitwear. To highlight this we worked with James Cropper - the oldest traditional paper mill in the UK - and Flow Creation - a group of highly skilled paper architects - to build an installation echoing the blank canvas of a white shirt. Inspired by the architecture of the ICA building itself, we re-created elements of the room in paper to embellish the bar.”
Frederik Willems, Head of Design at Thomas Pink, says; “Autumn/Winter 15 is inspired by a heady mix of London’s well known landmarks, motifs and characters. From Sir Michael Caine in the 1971 film ‘Get Carter’, to The Coach and Horses pub in Soho, we’ve drawn upon urban influences to create a collection which is daringly bold and eclectic in style. We’ve played with weaves and texture to develop solid colours with subtle design features and added intrigue. Checks and herringbone play a pivotal role throughout.”
Personally I love what Thomas Pink have designed here, they have touched on a lot of trends for AW15 such as mix 'n' match suit tailoring, touches of pink and a truck load of class.
If you haven't already, please take a read of my 'TOP 5 TRENDS AT LC:M AW15'.
I particularly like the Prince of Wales check used on the shirts, suits and accessories. It is something that as a designer myself I can see pastel tones of the Prince of Wales check hitting stores for the SS15 then more bold colours as showcased here at Thomas Pink for AW15.