Menswear was the focus of autumn/winter 2012 London Fashion Week Wednesday with designers of classic Savile Row suits and avant garde Fashion East casual wear saying that London was still a synonym for quality in men's clothing.
London's Savile Row is world-renowned for its tradition of bespoke classic menswear pieces and quality construction, and Gieves and Hawkes design director Barry Tulip told Reuters that his collection stayed true to tradition whilst updating it for this season.
"The most important thing about this collection is that we've not reinvented the wheel, we've kept it very classic. We've just updated it to make it relevant for today's customer."
Exotic luxury blends of cashmere and mink were featured on some of the jackets in the Gieves and Hawkes collection, along with playfully bright geometric printed ties to brighten up the mood in austere times.
"When everybody is depressed as they are now, you have to dream a little bit - for instance we've gone to town with our printed ties taking our inspiration from David Hicks," he said.
Hicks was a well known interior designer in the swinging sixties of London, and Tulip said that the collection featured many other small 1960s elements such as widened lapels and a lowered notch.
Elsewhere in London another Savile Row brand, E. Tautz, sent models down the runway in hand-made woolen tweed and cotton creations in hues of black, charcoal and grey.
Double breasted polo coats, charcoal tweed jackets, and wool tweed zip duffel coats were featured in an elegantly decorated Freemason's hall replete with colorful stain glass windows.
Designer Patrick Grant said he was inspired by the heavy materials worn by the military, having wanted to become a member of the horseguard cavalry when he was a boy, as well as the dark absorbent forms he saw at a Richard Serra exhibition in New York.
"All the clothes in this collection are very matte, quite heavy, and it's that really light-sucking matteness that we liked and that came from Serra," he told Reuters.
QUALITY AND QUIRKINESS
London's reputation for quality and originality was also an important focus for many of the casual menswear designers featured at NEWGEN and Fashion East Men.
Designer Paw Hansen, originally from Denmark, said that the level of quality was very important for his minimalist 1950s and American baseball inspired jackets.
"All my clothing is handmade in Britain. I've worked at many places before and I didn't want to just tap on a keyboard send the designs off to be made in China, I wanted to be involved with the patterns," he said.
The Fashion East venue featured a number of quirky installations, with models playing table football in orange and black long coats, three models sitting at a bus shelter showing off grey and white Christopher Shannon streetwear, and boys for T. Lipop in hooded parkas with fake snow on their eyebrows and beards.
Kit Neale, whose bright allotment-inspired colours featured harlequin greens and aubergines, said that London was a great place to look forward in menswear.
"Menswear can push so much at the moment - it's all about the boy having the confidence and attitude to wear it."