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.