King & Tuckfield: Evolutionary fifties fashion

Friday, August 23rd 2019
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I recently got to know Stacey Wood of King & Tuckfield, and think - despite a fashion-oriented look that might initially put some readers off - that some of the brand’s pieces are appealing variations on the menswear staples we love.

There are similarities to the Classic Collection at Connolly, covered and argued previously on PS.

For example, many readers liked my unstructured, drop-shouldered grey coat from Connolly, which was deliberately made to be unisex, and King & Tuckfield has a camel-coloured coat that’s equally oversized and unstructured (shown above and below, £895). 

I know many readers also disliked that Connolly piece. After all, a shoulder seam has a correct place to sit from a tailoring point of view - on the point of the shoulder - and dropping it down the arm is mere fashion whimsy. 

But I would argue that that seam is moved back and forwards for aesthetic reasons in tailoring, just not as dramatically. 

Neapolitans often try to move it up the shoulder as much as possible, to make the jacket seem more jacket-like (and arguable more functional); many new brands like The Anthology or Bryceland’s push the seam off the shoulder, to give an impression of width. 

Fashion brands that are grounded in menswear classics do these same manipulations, just to a slightly greater extent. The length of this King & Tuckfield coat, for example, is longer than pretty much any tailor would cut. And the sleeves are meant to be long to cover half of the hand too. 

But otherwise it’s pretty classic: raglan shoulder, double-breasted, turn-back cuffs. And a colour that consciously echoes American Gigolo and most wrap coats since. Personally I'd like to avoid the 22% nylon in the fibre mix, but it does give the coat more body and bounce - often required in something as unstructured as this.

The other pieces I’d pick out from the collection are the T-shirts, the polos and the cardigans. I’d steer clear of the very wide-leg trousers, unless that’s your look or you look as good in them as Richard Biedul (above, menswear model and, until recently, collaborator on the brand). 

The cotton T-shirts are nice, but the merino ones really appeal to me - in the vein of dressing up what is a pretty ubiquitous item, and making it a nice partner for tailored trousers. 

The polos are beautiful - along with the other knitted pieces, designed with Scott Fraser (who has some similar things under his own line, Scott Fraser Collection). 

Some of the patterns might be too bold for readers, but the intricate knitting patterns are lovely and subtle. The polos have a neat but not slim fit, and are nice against the skin - I have the vanilla with a camel stripe, which I wore over the summer with olive-green linen trousers. 

The cardigans are largely long-sleeved, button-through versions of the polos: still with great knit patterns, still with the merino that combines a feeling or comfort with luxury, just with slightly bolder patterns. 

There are also several nice functional details on the knits, like a little off-centre button fastening the neck. It’s so small you might never notice it, and perhaps never use it. 

The design influence is very much 1940s and 50s, but Stacey is also more evolutionary than some brands referencing that period. “The brand is named after my grandmother and father. Both were ballet dancers and very elegant dressers - and at the start we were mimicking many of the things they wore then,” she says. 

“But after a while [this is the seventh season] we saw that influence elsewhere and wanted to move on, so for 2020 there is more of a 1980s feel - when they had their own 50s revival.” In practice this means stronger patterns and brighter, block colours. 

The other similarity King & Tuckfield has with Connolly - and frankly the first thing that makes me think I might find a brand interesting - is a love of traditional materials. 

They are really a fashion brand, certainly more than many brands we cover, but they don’t follow the tendency of those brands to use polyester or cheap cotton. You can quickly get into a long conversation with Stacey about merino and the corozo they use, or the corduroy on jackets like the cream jumbo cord.

Finally, sustainability is a big focus for Stacey. It doesn’t come across on the website as much as in person, but she is obsessed with the supply chain of her products, and travels to the farms that supply wool and other materials to witness production. 

I went to see Stacey and her team in the Haggerston studio, and they do arrange viewings there occasionally, particularly for long-time customers. But the main outlets are their website and wholesale through Matches and The Rake

If you like the aesthetic of King & Tuckfield, another advantage of the way the brand works is a slow evolution through the collections. Unlike bigger fashion brands, and some collections like that Connolly Classic, the changes here each season are small. 

The long coat has evolved slightly since the first one developed with Richard. The trousers, while still not for me, are moving through materials. And I’m already looking forward to seeing what they do with the knitted cardigans next year. 

kingandtuckfield.com

As ever, this article was not paid for and there is no commercial relationship whatsoever between Permanent Style and King & Tuckfield. Unlike many sites, we believe in a clear, clean division between advertising and editorial. Read more on our policy here

 

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Christopher

Hi Simon, I couldn’t agree more with you on King & Tuckfield. I love their 50’s inspired look and have a polo and cardigan from the last season. The merino wool they use is incredibly soft and has a feeling of relaxed luxury, and the pattern is intrecate, classy, while still being very easy to wear, with cotton chinos as well as flannel trousers.

Thanks for the nice review, this brand deserves it.

Christopher

Hi Simon, to answer your question :
– I wear the polo with anything from tailored shorts, to tailored high-waisted linen pants (Rubinacci’s Gurkha) as well as cotton-linen drawstring pants.
– I haven’t worn the cardigan much, as it was too hot in France to enjoy a long-sleeved merino shirt. I got to wear it once with a light grey wool flannel pant, and it was perfect. Good point with the denim, it would fit the cardigan perfectly. I should try that (even though I’m not a denim guy, I have like 2 selvedge jeans, but they hardly get any wear).

Robin

Oh dear ! And to think with the last few months articles it was going so well . But then rather a bum note in August , when a lot of folk may not notice , then in a more popular month .

Now that I’ve got that off my chest let me say why I feel this way .
It not so much the clothes but the way they’re photographed .
Also , it’s ……FASHION ! Take a look at the wide leg jean ……Aaaaaaargh! It’s as bad as etautz
I appreciate you wearing the clothes and being photographed more then these pre-Madonna’s .

Secondly , why should I spend £85 on a New Zealand merino wool t shirt made in Turkey ?
Seriously , Why ?
You’ve taught us that companies that spend like this on PR have less to spend on their product .

P.S. come to think of it , it’s actually a good article as it’s made me think about what I’ve learnt from PS and analyse this product/ brand/ article better .

Anonymous

Simon
I have noticed more of these comments, indeed as your posts and content has been changing.
People don’t have a right to PS and neither should you post anything…
But your USP has historically been bespoke and non-cyclical (or v v long cycle clothing).
This has slightly shifted to a more contemporary menswear, with an emphasis on tailoring, but certainly susceptible to fashion and trends (hence the slight crowd of Bryceland , armoury etc)

Nothing wrong with this per se but it is a (gradual) shift, and perhaps a post on this evolution and how you are turning into more of a menswear generalist, rather than pure tailoring specialist, would be valuable.

John

Just for the record, it’s “prima donna”. The leading lady (usually in an opera). Not “pre-Madonna”.

ezequiel

there is no need for such patronizing and aggressive attitude, simon.

like robin, as i was reading the piece i could not understand how this particular “fashion” brand was worthy of a whole permanent style article. “they make nice t-shirts and they are good people”, ok, so?

maybe it is not one of your finest writings (as it feels vague and merely informative) and the combination with this “alien” brand raises more than one eyebrow.

btw i really enjoy emotional reactions in comments as i really enjoy emotional reactions in your writing. it is what makes this site so great.

ERIK

“Otherwise don’t comment”. Ouch ! Very harsh that , Simon.
I enjoy reading the comments as much as the articles and actually prefer the more antagonist comments rather then those that just praise the article. Would you rather we all were like Evan Everhart comment ? or even John’s patronising correction ?
Might be better to be more accepting of all points of view or be clear about censure in comment guidelines. Else even I’d be careful to comment.

As others have pointed out more gingerly this article indeed does seem a tad out of place / different and one look at the website shows it’s fashion (which is OK nothing wrong with that).
That’s not to say it doesn’t have a place on PS just that it will receive fair comment , as it indeed as, when put out.
But hey, if you like some of their items ad think criticism is unfair then it’s fine.
To paraphrase the American saying “PS is your float and what you say goes “.
But PS would certainly be a boring site if we are agreed in the same fashion or style (excuse the pun).

VSF

Interesting article. I’m intrigued by the merino t-shirts. Do you happen to know the gauge of the wool? I’m a bit concerned about the quality of the garment as it’s actually made in Turkey so, may I assume that you’re satisfied with the make? Do you know if they plan to offer more colors?

Scott

Simon, I’d encourage you not to spend any more of your valuable time writing about this fashion brand. I doubt very seriously that 95% minimum of your readers would wear anything in this collection except the merino t-shirt, which I like by the way. That coat looks like a woman’s coat and the wide leg pants… well, what adult is going to wear that? I know you like to branch out occasionally and I respect that of course, but, in this brand’s case, one article is enough.

Scott

Good man! I remember that Connolly coat and thought it was interesting looking and masculine, but just a bit on the high fashion end for me.I think Connolly carries some excellent pieces and I enjoy your writings about them. However, this K&T coat definitely looks like a woman’s coat to me and the collection too androgynous for my taste. So, keep searching for those Connolly’s and SEH’s out there and thanks for all you do.

Sam

Mr Crompton, do you think this oversized, loose look that was popular in the eighties will come back in the 2020s? The undersized, constrictive suits of the 2010s are on the way out, the retro look already seems to be triumphant in women’s clothes, and men’s clothes seem to be slowly following.

I really like the pleated jeans. They’ve got a little bit of taper, but not much. Some of the other trousers look a bit too baggy.

Sam

I think the reason the last few decades have seen clothes go from too big to too small (and now back) is the difficulty of having off-the-rack suits fit a wide variety of people. Since most of the people that buy a suit from Marks and Spencer probably aren’t going to have it altered, it makes more sense for the designer fashion industry to try and sell ill-fitting suits as ‘fashionable’ rather than promote good fit.

But as ugly as 1980s Armani-style suits were, I still think they aren’t quite as bad as the skin-tight suits that have been popular throughout this decade. Neither look good but at least the too large suits weren’t constricting.

Evan Everhart

Hi Simon,

Interesting article! I find the perspective….intriguing, I can see the vintage influences in their garments, and I wish that I had seen some of their earlier collections which might have been perhaps more authentic to that period which was referenced as having been related to the designer’s parents. The wide legged trousers also do not appeal to me….As to polo shirts, I like those minimal, no stripes.

What shines through to me here, is the over coat! It’s over all drape and design reminds me very much of my Grandfather’s large scale cream and chestnut brown herringbone with Donegal bouled over coat which he picked up in England after WWII. It has the same A-Line sort of set up, with welted seams, but his has a large storm collar, much like a military uniform of the time where when fastened it resembles a shirt collar. I forget the actual name for that collar style…Anyway, the length is precisely parallel between the two. I think if more jackets returned to that sort of a length, they would be better, ditto the wide skirting. Nothing is worse than a tightly skirted over coat which binds at the legs, or which is too short as it defeats the very purpose of the over coat. I had another over coat of similar length which belonged to a relative of mine who left it to me, but it vanished in a move (I suspect stolen), it came to just below my calves, was in charcoal gray and black medium scale herringbone tweed, and had patch and flap hip pockets with turned back cuffs. It was double breasted with black leather buttons, and had a black fur collar with tweed lapels and black fur lining. I used to wear it in the Winter when horse riding on my family’s ranch. Nothing could keep you warmer. I miss that coat….Honestly though, it would be prohibitively expensive to reproduce it now….sadly. Tailors need to return to what they once did, as what they used to do was typically focused on function first, with style an expression of that function. Form following function, as the saying goes.

One final note, I do not like the collar on that over coat as it does not seem particularly attractive or functional. It would have been much more elegant and functional with a paletot style collar and lapel with a slightly extended collar breadth, just fractionally broader than the revers or lapels, that is how many of the old camel hair polo coats were made. As to drape, if they used a heavier weight of fabric cut on the bias, they could get excellent drape without the artificial fiber content, or a fabric with a springier weave, though still cut on the bias would accomplish the same, though the cost of production would go up commensurately.

More fascinating reading, Sir!

Anonymous

No harm in featuring! It is fashion (vs. tailoring…) but nonetheless interesting. My only, I hope valid, feedback is this: items such as those featured are best for tall, lean, dramatic, model-like frames. Great on camera but in reality, on an average person, they look terrible – unless cut for that person (in other words bespoke). They are similar, in effect, to the fashion silhouettes of the 80’s, which, regrettably (particularly after investment), dated quickly and were redundant by 1990. Unlike permanent style, wherein the middle way of fashion design is followed (not avant garde, not historic), I would worry about looking silly, then, latterly, out-of-date. The silhouettes may well presage fashion’s next phase but I will await a more softer form.

John

But that’s exactly the point, isn’t it?

This kind of fashion-forward menswear only looks good on tall, thin men (bearded à la Biedul, or smooth-chinned like adolescents). That’s why it’s this kind of body type that’s featured in the advertising campaigns.

Do they look good on the rest of us? I think not.

And do they look good when we’re doing normal human being things like actual work, commuting, running errands, even sightseeing, as opposed to lounging about a perfectly-lit studio or a stunning outdoor location half-way round the world?

Yes, this is style. But inaccessible style. Permanent? Yes, to the extent that it has become a fixture in the world of menswear.

But to call it sustainable? That’s just so much nonsense. It’s a tag that sells, so every man and his dog is now “sustainable”.

Joseph Tay

Hi Simon, excellent post – the navy tee looks exceptional in its simplicity. Any ID on the sneakers, please, if you might happen to know where they are from?

Liam

I very much appreciate the exploration of new brands and of course not all will appeal. One thing that puts me off is how brands choose to model their products when the guys with disposable income are often different body shapes. Albam is a great example, I like a lot of what they do but the photography in no way draws me to the products. Drake’s can get it right (in my view) but even they tend toward the too young and too lean. More of Jason Jules and the like!

Al

As you, I’m sure, already know these pictures and cut seem to come straight from a 80’s magazine. I still have several issues of a Vogue galaxy one where all the top coats were cut like this and even model poses were exactly the same. These days I like more traditional cuts but nice to see some energy from those years coming back.

G

The thing that makes this site unique is that it covers the smaller artisans instead of gargantuan corporations, and this is one of the reasons I return. The smaller guy deserves coverage; especially if the outcome of their work is high quality. And you fill that niche.

The stuff in this article isn’t particularly my cup of tea, but there’s nothing wrong with expanding on styles on this site.

And yes, the strangulated, shrunk look is finally and mercifully starting to see the end of its run. I saw a bunch of finance types in my profession wear a suit so tight and short not too long ago that it looked as though he borrowed it from his kid brother.

Richard Jones

The Talented Mr. Ripely. Watch / re-watch this film. Then check out this brand for inspiration. Enjoyable article and introduction to another stylish brand, thank you Simon.

BespokeNYC

It’s probably a redundant point to make, but please don’t let negative comments stop you posting more articles like this! There are plenty of readers who don’t wear penny loafers and tweed jackets at the weekend, and I personally find it really interesting to learn more about brands that are influenced by traditional tailoring, but still lean more towards fashion. They’re not mutually exclusive, nor should we expect them to be.

That said, I do find myself in agreement with the other commenters regarding the use of very young and slim models. I promise it’s not just my ego talking here (!) but I really appreciate being able to see how clothes look on more normal physiques, because it’s true that a lot of very fashion-forward styles only look good on very specific figures.

Luca Faloni and Orlebar Brown are particularly egregious with their fashion-shoot aesthetic, but I’ve noticed Drake’s seem to be moving in that direction, where they previously relied more on pictures of the shop staff in natural settings. I seem to remember reading they said it was just so much easier and quicker to work with models (because a professional who has their picture taken for a living knows exactly what they’re doing in shoots) but I’d be genuinely curious what the impact is on sales (up or down!)

If this is just an unavoidable reality perhaps, Simon, you could include a few pictures of you wearing the items you recommend? Or even a group of PS volunteers of different shapes and sizes?? I honestly think the pics you included of you wearing the Connolly items were a huge part of the appeal!

Kiran Rao

Age is just a number. Many people looks younger who crossed more than fifties.