Our Spring/Summer Top 10, 2019
Last week the weather in London turned from 12 degrees to 22 in a couple of days. It seems that what passes for the English Spring is finally here.
Of course, with most shops and brands Spring/Summer collections arrived in February, and went on sale in March. But it feels now is the right time to run through my favourites, in the form of our annual S/S Top 10.
As ever, no one can pay, wink or threaten their way into getting coverage in this list. It is entirely my views - centred around ideals of quality, authenticity and classic style.
1 Adret suede sandals
Available through Adam: DM on Instagram @adret_official
Adret had a very soft launch at our pop-up shop last month, and there’s still only stock of a few things (mostly bags and knitwear). But there are also some of these sandals, and I’d say it’s the one thing that stood out for me most.
The sandals use two strips of thick cow suede in an old-fashioned design, which is satisfying in its functionality and its elegance. They’re cool and yet your toes aren’t display; they’re simply made (in Indonesia, like all Adret pieces) yet sophisticated.
I have a cream base-layer too from Adret, which is lovely, but the sandals are more distinctive.
2 45R bandanas
Not available online. London store: 6 Brook Street
£90 and up
Japanese brand 45R (previously 45RPM) has some pretty esoteric stuff. There are £500 belts made from woven wood, and voluminous wax-relief shirts. It’s all handmade and naturally dyed, but some is unwearable, and none of it is cheap.
However, when I visited them in Japan - and particularly since they’ve had a store in London on Brook Street - I found there is usually something that I both like and haven’t seen anywhere else.
In this case, it's the range of indigo-dyed bandanas - something I've always worn with a crew-neck T-shirt or sweatshirt. The current range has fairly standard dark indigo cottons, but also dyes on several different types of silk and several in hemp. I bought the cotton wax-relief design above while in Japan, and now have my eye on a washed silk that looks like cotton.
(Tip: The cotton ones are usually stiff to start with, but wear in over time and become very soft. Give them a wash or just keep them scrunched up in a bag for a while.)
3 Tracksmith Van Cortlandt running shirt
Boston-based Tracksmith have been my favourite running brand for a while, but they've only recently been stocked in the UK, by Mr Porter. Previously you had to pay a 30% premium in tax and duty, or shop in Boston (where I did fleetingly during my trip to see Frank Clegg last year).
I'd recommend many things, including the Brighton base layer (my go-to piece during the winter) and the Greyboy T-shirts. Both are good examples of high-performing kit that also looks, and feels, like something with more heritage.
The best place to start, though, is probably the Van Cortlandt running shirts. They're the kind of mesh most runners will expect, just with a better fit (slightly longer, slightly slimmer) and striking styling.
Coincidentally, Tracksmith also have a pop-up shop in London this week during the Marathon - from Thursday 23rd to Monday 29th, in Covent Garden. So that's a good way to go check on sizing.
4 Le Mont St Michel work jacket
This is one of the best examples of a French work jacket I’ve seen in a while.
Most modern versions skimp a little on the material, thinking a lighter-weight cotton is more contemporary. But this uses the same slightly brushed fabric Le Mont St Michel were using at the beginning of the 20th century.
It’s also a touch longer, which is nice, and comes in the standard French blue as well as a brick red that is surprisingly wearable, because of that slightly chalky fabric. (It is not as strong a colour as the image suggests.)
Trunk are carrying both this season. And among the rest of their S/S stock I’d highlight the nubuck colours of Common Projects: the dusty pink or ‘nude’ colour is lovely with either green or cream trousers.
5 Informale linen trousers
Probably best known for made-to-measure tailoring and bringing classic-menswear brands to Australia (such as Craftsman Clothing and Chad Prom), Steve Calder recently launched a small line called Informale. Its aim, like much in Australian clothing, is to bring some formal elements to rather casual clothing (or vice versa, depending on how you look at it).
Some pieces like the gurkha shorts are too wide and high for me (in the leg and waist, respectively). And I also wasn’t sure I’d ever wear a drawstring trouser. But I tried these pleated linen ones and I think been proved wrong.
They are not a substitute for tailored linen trousers. I will not wear them with a shirt, or indeed with anything tucked in. The drawstring is too messy. But as a casual, weekend trouser in the summer, with a T-shirt or polo, they’re lovely. The cut is elegant and the pleats well made.
They will become, I think, the summer equivalent of my Armoury Army chinos, which were my weekend default through much of the winter.
6 Bennett Winch backpack
£395 canvas, £850 leather
I’m guilty of having owned and used this backpack for over a year, yet never mentioned it. Primarily this is because it doesn’t fit with most of the style of what Permanent Style covers - yet I use it regularly, primarily to commute with by bike.
The advantage of having had the backpack that long and not mentioned it, is that I can bear testimony to how well it wears. The grain leather, which feels nice at the start, softens up even more, while the leather-but-suede-backed straps mould slightly to the body.
Even the hardware is a great example of style meeting function: the buckles that adjust those straps slowly tarnish, and are satisfying to adjust once you figure them out.
The canvas models are nice (and rathe cheaper), but I went for the black leather. In an age when everyone does a backpack of some sort, this is both luxurious and surprisingly distinctive.
7 Connolly ‘giubbino’ jacket
Not available online. Contacts at connollyengland.com
As ever with Connolly, some of the current collection is definitely not my style. But there are little gems that sneak in - between the conceptual and the classic.
This jacket is a good example. It doesn’t look much on the hanger: a lightweight blouson, in a slubby cotton/linen mix. But put it on and start playing with the drawstring, and you realise how much it can be styled to change the look, from a straight drape to something bunched and more blouson-like.
I’d also recommend their merino short-sleeved knitwear (£230) for summer, going on our recent conversation about a summer version of this outfit.
8 Polo Ralph Lauren boat shoes
I know, it’s Polo, and they won’t be the greatest value for money - but these are the first boat shoes I’ve found that I really like.
I’ve tried the classic brands, and more unusual ones like Paraboot (currently at Drake’s), but most look a little cheap to me and probably better in suede than leather. (Even though that would make them less practical on a boat.)
These, in a rich tobacco suede, feel like an easier thing to transition to, from loafers or Sagans.
I almost bought them last year, then they ran out of my size. So this year, I nabbed them as soon as the stock arrived. As a result I’ve been wearing them around the house for a month, and they’re just as comfy as you’d expect from a boat shoe. With no socks.
For some reason the sheer silliness of the corkscrew laces also appeals.
9 Drake’s garment-washed shirts
Inevitably in this list, we don’t cover tailoring or shirts, as they’re two things I’d normally have made.
But there is a space in the wardrobe for a very relaxed, loose fitting summer shirt, and now Drake’s is garment-washing its shirts in Somerset (the first English factory to do so), they have a great option there.
The shirts have no lining in the collar, and the washing gives them a softness of handle and of colour, both of which make them perfect for that slouchy look. They also come up small (I fit a Large) so I’d recommend sizing up.
10 Anderson & Sheppard gurkha shorts
While the PS Shorts I designed are inevitably my favourites, my favourite gurkha-style short is this model offered by Anderson & Sheppard.
It’s not super-high waisted like many gurkhas - which is traditional, but makes them look even more stylised, particularly with a shirt tucked in. They’re made in the best materials, as with all A&S stuff - I have both the green linen and the navy cotton. And the styling is subtle - the waistband isn’t too wide, nor the buckles too prominent.
I’d also highlight the linen shirts from A&S, if you want something RTW and not as slouchy as the Drake's ones. They have some simple ones in a big range of colours throughout the year, and just received a few beautifully made ones by Marol, with a point collar and neat pocket.
[PS Shorts will be restocked next week, with a new colour]
Photography: Adret shots, Buzz Tang; boat shoes, James Holborrow; all other shorts, courtesy of the brands.
A sub-£100 (currently) pair of shoes on PS….I never thought I would live to see the day!
The Ralph Lauren shoes currently have 20% off, so only £95!
Blimey. Maybe that is approaching value then!
I owned a pair of those. The suede wore out (i.e. punctured) around the balls of the feet in about two years.
Hmm. Thanks Ben, useful
Thanks for the recommendations!
Looking forward to the release of the PS shorts. I hope you’re making them in XS size too this time.
They’ll be released next week Neil. I’m afraid no XS though… I’m sorry, we’ve added another colour and it’s just not affordable to add more sizes too.
Any news on when Adret will be launching?
It will be a few months, though I know they’re taking another pop-up space soon.
In the meantime it’s definitely worth starting a conversation with Adam – he’s dealing with all initial customers one on one
I have the Informale Linen Trousers in 3 colours – Navy, Khaki Green and Natural/Cream and they are my favourite summer trouser as well, however I really like the look of them with a tucked in t-shirt.
I’ll definitely pick up other colors in them as well in the future – a brown would be nice and maybe something a bit more exciting like a yellow or brick.
Thank you for the list.
May I know what size are you wearing for the Tracksmith Van Cortlandt running shirt and the Le Mont work jacket?
Sure. I wear a Medium in the Tracksmith, which is a close fit, but not uncomfortable at all as it has good stretch. Others might wear a Large if they like something roomier when they run.
And a Medium in the Le Mont San Michel too I think – though just trying to double check on the Trunk website and I can’t seem to load it
Seems to be fine now – it was actually a 50 in the San Michel. The 48 was a little too short
Simon, have you ever tried A&S drawstring trousers? I’m interested in them ever since I saw their trouser styles video on youtube. They seem even more casual than Informale though, but seem like a great option for weekends around the house or for breakfast while on holiday.
I have tried them, yes. Personally I prefer the way the Informale ones are made, because they have elastic in there too (should have mentioned that) which keeps them sitting neatly and not relying on the drawstring. Just having the drawstring can be a little uncomfortable as its quite a thin line to have gripping you. I also rather liked the pleats – makes them look less like tracksuit bottoms.
How do the Informale trousers fit? I’ve been eyeing them for a while but the no returns policy has me a bit worried. I think I have a similar challenge to you with rtw trousers – cyclist seat and thighs which don’t match the waist! Perhaps the pleats solve this but I normally have to order a size up and get the waist taken in. Can I ask what size you ordered vs other rtw (incotex maybe)? Thanks.
Hey Rob. It surprises me they do no returns at all. But they fit well on me, even with that issue, and I took a 32 which is what I would take in Incotex too (48).
Thanks Simon and your right I now see they do exchanges, just no refunds. I think I’ll give them ago.
Blimey. I haven’t seen deck shoes with laces tied like that since the Yuppies died off at the end of the eighties (or maybe they just grew up).
Is this a thing again?
Great list as always, Simon. Helpful to see some attention put toward weekend wear and more casual (but stylish) knockabout items. Im loving the informale trousers, did you go with a standard 32”? Thanks Simon.
Yes I did, and it worked well. Just about got up and over my bum, and not too loose then on the waist.
I love the boat shoes but no good for water being suede!
I stick to the original
Is the £395 price for the Adret sandals a misprint?
Nope. They’re not cheap
They use the same construction as Clarks desert boots, which are made in Vietnam. They cost £100. These sandals use up the same amount of leather, and are probably simpler to make, given that ttttttthe uppers consist of one single strip of leather.
Is there anything to justify the exorbitant price?
Well, one is made en masse in a factory for a big brand. The other is made one at a time, by one workman, in very small numbers. That will increase the price a lot, though not necessarily the quality.
One thing that will increase the quality is the quality of the raw materials. And saying they use the same amount of it is rather silly. Raw materials can vary hugely in quality and price
It’s still a very high price, though.
How about Rondini sandals from San Tropez? Family company, will make to measure, variety of styles, very focused.
Nice, thanks Fred I didn’t know them
Well Saint Tropez might make a nice detour from your usual Naples and Paris circuit https://www.rondini.fr/en/
And as to VSF dislike of sandals, I suppose it depends on the context and the clothes. Wasn’t thinking with pinstripes, although it could be an interesting look
A lot of people dislike sandals, and generally I’m with them. But I do think they can look fairly elegant if the toes are covered. Not if they’re not.
The problem is finding a closed-toe sandal that doesn’t look too anachronistic – and that’s why I find the Adret ones interesting.
Sorry, that reply went on a bit.
Simon, a lot of people do indeed dislike sandals, and for good reason, because they are ugly! I’ve never seen a pair of sandals of any sort look good on a man, ever. Men have other alternatives to sandals such as boat shoes, unlined loafers, trainers etc that are much more attractive and comfortable as well. So this is a fashion faux pax that needs to be put out of its misery permanently. By the way gentlemen, if you think that women like sandals on men you couldn’t be more mistaken.
“By the way gentlemen, if you think that women like sandals on men you couldn’t be more mistaken.”
You’re mostly right. It’s pretty much impossible to look good in sandals. They’re the sartorial equivalent of walking barefoot across sharp gravel, a great leveller that makes everyone look equally ridiculous, but as it happens my wife likes me in a sandal. Not because it’s a good look but because she envies my long toes.
If you’re lucky enough to have smooth soles, graceful arches, no unsightly knuckle hair and ‘finger toes’ you can get away with sandals, but – discounting fetishists – I can’t imagine how anyone would prefer the look of a sandal-clad foot over pretty much any other shoe.
What do you wear at the beach? You need a pair os sandals or flip flops.
I also find the suede loafers very silly. What is the point of taking a practical shoe (with good grip, decent style that doesn’t suffer under a bit of water) and completely eliminate that practicality by making it suede!
I think you aren’t thinking enough about the practicality of clothes, and more about the instagramability!
Hey. Not sure if you’re replying to me or VSF, but for myself, I wear mostly espadrilles on holiday, to the beach etc – see post here.
As to not being practical, given the boat shoes will not be worn on a boat, in the rain or in water, they’re rather practical. Less instagrammability, more a concern for style I’ll actually wear….
I keep wondering where everyone find the mythical €10 espadrilles in local shops by the beach I keep reading about. They seem to be everywhere except where I holiday.
Anyway, I’ll just echo that espadrilles are great for summer and beach wear. I tend to wear them or simple plimsols / canvas sneakers to the pool, the beach and the store. For dressier occasions where I’m not in leathers soled loafers, Loro Piana summer walks are my guilty pleasure. They (as well as the open walks) are doubtless the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn and they make a lovely pairing with tailored linens and cottons.
Come to think of it, that’d be a fun read, Simon. Your sartorial guilty pleasures, given that you have any, that is.
Nice idea. Everyone has them…
Can you tell me where the last image comes from, with the t-shirt and the sweater vest? I find the vest quite intriguing….
They’re both from Adret – the t-shirt is the base layer I referred to. Sorry, I should have labelled them.
I never have been a big fan of sandals on men. In fact, I’d characterize the look as hideous. Concerning shorts, I always follow Tom Fords advice for men of no shorts in the city. The combination of sandals and shorts is cringeworthy.
The RL “boat shoes” are not boat shoes at all. Look at the soles. You would be sliding all over the place.
If you want proper boat shoes, go to Chatham Marine, or the like, and perhaps look at Gator if you want them to look good in the garden of your local pub on a sunny day.
And by the way they will grip the deck of a boat rather well too.
There is nothing worse, in my view, than a fashion designer who takes a serious piece of workwear and creates a fashion version of it.
Personally, I’m never going to walk on the deck of a boat so I’m fine with this. And I doubt most people who wear deck shoes will either
Then your life is not complete. I am looking out of the window at mine as I type.
Have a look at the Sperry Boat Shoes (https://www.sperry.com/en/mens-shoes-boat-shoes/)
The original and the best. Hard wearing, practical, slim profile that works well and is relatively stylish and has a preppy charm to it, authentic and affordable! Beats RL every single time. Simon – would love to hear your views.
Sperry Topsiders are classic boat shoes that do their job on the boat, but can be worn casually as well and get better with age.
They’re one of the classic brands I tried to be honest, and I found the leather and white sole not that easy to wear or appealing as a material. Of course, I’m never going to wear either on a boat….
Sherry have plenty of suede/dark sole models Simon. Don’t follow your “leather/white sole” reasoning frankly.
It’s only partly rational. The leather/white sole ones didn’t work with more sartorial dress for me; the suede/dark sole variations I just didn’t like as styles
I hate to say it as a long time reader and supporter but I think it might be snobbery from SC coming in here!
I love the Bennett Winch bag, but I’m surprised it made it to a Spring/Summer list. Seems the odd one out in this list.
Do you have any recommendations for high rise chino?
Drake’s ones are a decent rise – have you tried them?
I’d like to point out something, whether true or not but from what i have noticed in how IG accounts work informale bought followers.
Why i say this is because the like & comment ratio to followers simple do not match up.
I am not doing to knock anyone, simple because for the past few years of following your blog i know this is something you do not support.
Thank you for sharing your valid concern.
We have not and will not purchase followers on our Instagram account – in fact, I am strongly and vocally against the practice.
Originally we were building up our @informale_ account organically for a different brand in a different industry, but ended up swapping it over when we decided to launch Informale. That is why engagement seems low – the original follower base was not menswear-centric. But having over 10k followers is an advantage on instagram (linking URLs in stories etc), so after weighing the pros and cons we decided to do it.
Rest assured, we have an authentic following and not one account has been purchased.
Hope that clarifies!
How can you claim the 10k followers are authentic following for your brand when the followers were misled because they were following a different brand and different industry? so you essentially did a switcharoo and changed the account name?
and somehow, this is justified because it has advantages on instagram? what’s the difference to purchasing followers? it also has advantages on instagram. both audiences are fake.
Thanks for sharing your multiple concerns about our Instagram account.
It was a tough decision – one my partner and I spent long hours discussing. At the end the pro’s outweighed the cons, we made the transition, and got back to working on our garments.
We actually have now built @informale_ up to 18.5k followers, even with a huge chunk of the original following dropping off post-switcharoo. So we seem to be doing something right, at least!
Wow £395 for what are basically Pakistani Peshawari chappals is exorbitant! I remember a few years ago Paul Smith launched a his “Robert” sandal and passed it as an original design. And after a huge outcry they identified Peshawari sandals as an inspiration. I must admit their take on it with orange suede is pretty funky.
An exquisitely curated collection, as we have come to expect from you.
Please help me though with the backpack; what particularly makes this a top item for summer? I would have thought it had year round appeal.
Equally, is a bandana limited to use in the summer? If so, I have been making a fool of myself by wearing them in the spring and autumn too!
Your breadth of knowledge is envy-making
Hi Patrick. You’re right, neither piece is just a Spring/Summer item, but then they’re not necessarily Autumn/Winter either. There’s usually the occasional year-round piece – particularly needed now London weather has dropped another 10 degrees!
Thanks for all your posts about 100Hands, and for your trunk show listings. I had a very pleasant time getting fitted for some shirts with Akshat and Varvara in Gothenburg today.
They had lots of nice things to say about you.
That’s so nice to hear Colm, thanks. Pleased I was able to put you in touch
Good lord, those Adret sandals. Diff’rent strokes, etc., but I live half the year in an extremely hot country in which sandals are a practical if unappealing option, and their sole (no pun intended) saving grace is that they give your toes breathing room. The Adrets seem to offer the worst of all worlds: the casual ‘I’ve given up on my appearance’ ugliness of a sandal with the stifling, constrictive feel of a shoe. Just looking at them I feel my feet involuntarily kicking them off, and if anything I’d say the weird little viewing windows between the suede strips only draw attention to the toes.
If I had to pick I’d just go with the RL boat shoes. They’ll fall apart after a couple of years, but you can just buy three pairs and still come out £100 ahead 🙂
Suede for deck shoes isn’t that functional for their intended creation and purpose, although for the landlubber not intending to get them drenched they’re quite an attractive shoe.
BUYER BEWARE – http://www.informale.com.au
I purchased two pairs of Informale trousers after reading this article and found them to be much baggier and looser fitting that depicted and described – not an issue in itself and common when shopping online. No dramas right? Wrong.
What I wasn’t aware of is that Informale do not accept returns for refund and only for exchange or store credit. As they are an Australian company consumers are not protected by UK distance selling regs.
I pleaded with Informale founder to show some leniency and accept the return and issue a refund (well over 500 AUD) however he declined, even though I offered to cover all outbound and return shipping costs so that there was no cost incurred to Informale at all.
I appreciate that I hadn’t read the small print on this occasion however in this day an age I find this totally unacceptable. Informale would rather a customer be left with a product they cannot use (I have no interest in their other products either) rather than stand by their product, take it back and sell it to someone who might be delighted with it.
Avoid at all cost – a retailer stuck in the dark ages, putting profit over customer satisfaction.
Happy to share email correspondence if of use to anyone.
A summer frustration: sunscreen! I’ve had a few collar stains on white shirts and T-shirts that seem impossible to remove (different from collars soiled from normal wear). Internet wisdom tells me it’s an ingredient called avobenzone that causes a reaction with the iron in water upon washing, creating the yellowish stain. I haven’t been able to find a sunscreen without avobenzone.
Do you have a solution? Not protecting your neck isn’t a good option. How do the pale gents at Pitti do it right now?
Good point Sam, I’ve never thought about it – I guess just because I haven’t had such stains. Interesting to hear what others know
Simon,do you think that Riviera canvas shoes are a good summer staple or do you prefer classic espadrilles?
I’d always prefer espadrilles myself. They’re just a lot more elegant, yet casual at the same time
Simon what brand of sturdy running/athletic shoes do you recommend? Brands I used to enjoy before are now all cheap, lightweight, and plastic with no support. It’s hard to find a good shoe. Thanks
It’s not really an area I know enough about. Sorry
Simon, which backpack do you recommend for a daily commute with business casualwear and suits: Bennett Winch’s black backpack; Montblanc (I’m considering the Meisterstück Urban Large Backpack, https://www.montblanc.com/en-us/collection/leather/city-bag/124088-meisterstueck-urban-large-backpack.html); Killspencer’s Utility Special Ops Backpack (https://killspencer.com/collections/backpack/products/utility-special-ops-backpack?variant=42743564366); or something by Dunhill (they don’t seem to have any interesting backpacks at the moment, presumably because they’re rolling out the new season’s line?)?
In New York City, some, who otherwise dress formally, carry backpacks instead of briefcases.
I would never recommend carrying a backpack over tailoring every day. It’s going to ruin the shoulders of the suits… Perhaps if it’s over a tough wax or canvas coat or something?
Of the ones here, I can certainly recommend the Bennett Winch, but I’m afraid I don’t have experience if the others. Dunhill would be paying a bit more for design/branding than the others
You’re probably correct, but I really cherish having two free hands on my commute. So I made myself some rules. No backpacks over padded shoulders and no backpacks directly over suit jackets – only over outerwear and with unpadded shoulders.
Good to know, and nice policy. I’d say the biggest danger is wearing the cloth, not damaging the padding in the shoulders, but you’re right the padding is also an issue
Query about the Bennett Winch backpack, how have you find the carrying capacity of the bag? It looks rather slim based on photos, and I can’t imagine fitting too much in the bag. (The website also does say that it has a detachable shoe bag? Not quite sure how that fits in).
I ask because I don’t have a store here (based in Sydney) where I can appreciate the physical item.
It is fairly slim, yes, but I still find I can carry everything I need usually. Eg laptop, gym kit, water bottle, a sweater, plus little things, wallet keys etc.
The detachable shoe bag is basically just an extra bag you can put dirty things in (like shoes) and then put inside the bag.
Thanks Simon, that really helps a lot!
I forgot to ask in my initial post as well, how have you found the comfort of the straps after long periods of carrying?
Simon, would appreciate your thoughts on the Informale linen trousers one year after this post. Did you find them to be what you expected? Still wear them? Have you revisited the no-tucked-in rule? Thanks!
Yes they’ve done well in terms of the colour and material, and I still wear them. The only negative points, I’d say, is that the pleats don’t function that well – they are fairly small and shallow, and drop out fairly quickly. I also struggle a little with the rise, as it’s a bit of a mid-point between mid-rise and high-rise. I find they slip down an inch or so to a normal mid-rise on me – it’s an issue I had with Steve’s chinos as well.
And yes, definitely never tucked anything into them. These are for very casual wear, mostly around the house, mostly just with a T-shirt.
Thanks very much, Simon, this is very helpful. Would you mind expanding on why it is that you don’t find them suitable to wear with a tucked-in polo shirt, or regular collared shirt? Thanks again.
Basically because I don’t like the look of an elasticated waist. It looks messy and very casual. Almost sloppy. Even on pyjamas I’d generally not have it, or only on the back half of the waistband.
Simon, any other suggestions on where to purchase good quality RTW linen trousers? Having tried the Informale variety I also was impressed with the colour and material, but between the pleats and rise found the seat a bit too roomy.
Did you see Manish’s guide on places we like for RTW trousers? Most of those places do linen as well. The comments are useful too
I visited the Connolly shop the other day. Sad to see, they’ve jacked up the price of the Giubinno 50% off the back of the James Bond feature.
Really? And it wasn’t the suede version they’re now offering?
Do you still think that the Le Mont Saint Michel work jacket is the best example of the French work jacket?
Probably, yes, aside from vintage versions