I read Robert Elms’ marvellous book The Way We Wore last week. If you haven’t read it it is a fascinating, and very personal dissection of British youth cults and the clothes that were associated with them, throughout the 70s and 80s.
It descends into a quagmire of narcissism towards the end as Elms seems to spend his life chasing after stupidly expensive, and quite possibly awful, 80s Japanese suits.
Nevertheless he does take the mickey out of himself a bit so I can forgive him a great deal (not this though).
Anyhow Elms says in the book that when it comes to knitwear there is only one brand and that’s Derbyshire’s finest John Smedley. And I couldn’t agree more.
Well the brand also does a very striking line in cotton polo shirts – the sort of thing that Sean Connery wore inn the early Bonds when he needed a spot of causal.
Anyhow this shirt named the Mercer, looks great, and very Spring-like in light blue. It is also available in navy, black and peacock blue in limited stocks. They are priced at £54 down from £99. You will need to sign in to see them though.
If there’s one man who has done a few festivals in his time it is Liam Gallagher. Mind you he probably hasn’t done too much queuing for the toilets of chomping on vom burgers, but we will give him the benefit of the doubt as his label, Pretty Green, has just unveiled a series of festival jackets.
The most eye catching of the range of this little orange (apparently this year’s colour number say people in the know). Partially inspired by the maritime thing – that is going on here - it is made from lightweight nylon and has colour panels and full front zip closure. There’s also a hood to fend off the inevitable rain.
There are also plenty of pockets for you to keep your essentials in and it has elasticated cuffs and an adjustable waist.
Well the second range has been unveiled and it is due to land in H&M’s 180 stores and on-line from 7th March.
The spin is that each item has been designed with the needs of modern cyclists in mind. So the items are technically suited to cycling, but still ideal for wearing all day long.
Included are water repellent rider jackets and articulated blazers, caps and more. But is is the vintage-inspired bike jerseys that caught our eye. These are very classy and are made from a mix of Merino wool and recycled polyester.
Describing the range the company says
Shirts come quilted for colder days and in plaid checks with reinforced patches on the lower sleeves. The crewneck top has a zip and ventilation holes, as well as sleeves cut for extra mobility, while the rider T-shirt has a functional pocket on the back. Rider’s trousers similar to a functional chino. Legs are cut for slightly bended knees, a reinforced crotch, and reflective tape seams on the inside leg which are visible when rolled up for extra safety.
“This collection captures the energy and excitement of Brick Lane Bikes, along with our respect for the traditions of cycling. I love how the technical details become part of the look of each piece, while the colours bring cycling’s heritage to life. I can’t wait to see guys wearing these clothes as they ride the streets of the world,” says Feya Buchwald, founder of Brick Lane Bikes.
Farah Vintage has just unveiled a very striking new range of Mod type Breton style jumpers. There’s a traditional blue and white (which is nicely in keeping with the vogue for all maritime things) version here, but I prefer this navy and red number.
It is Beatnik style features a cool Sixties Mod Breton stripe detail in chilli red throughout and has a Ribbed hem, cuffs and collar and Farah Vintage embroidery to the chest.
Breton jumpers were a staple of the beatniks in the early 60s as they attempted to ape cool French new wave stars (and American ones like Jean Seberg). Breton is derived from the region of Brittany in France and the Brittany flag in fact also consists of monochrome stripe detail, much like the jumper
Who would have thought that Captain Birds Eye would ever be a style role model. Well not quite but fisherman coats and jackets, which started appearing in the ranges of high end brands last year have landed on the (virtual) high street and are here to stay for 2013.
I guess many of these coats are being bought by outdoor types who want to look both sensible and smart, but even if your idea of great outdoors adventure is a trip round the park with the dog you’ll still looks fine in them.
The jackets we have rounded up are split between heavyweight coats designed to withstand the very worst that the North Sea (they are Scandi influenced) can thrown at them and more lightweight numbers that you can team up with deck shoes and shorts.
High quality fisherman's cost direct from a small, but impressive Swedish indie. The makers says that it features the finest craftsmanship, materials and details. Each coat is individually controlled by a skillful seamstress.
John White is a heritage British brand that has been around for the best part of a century. According to its website it supplied boots to the army in WW2 and was the first British shoe company to ship its wares to New York’s Macy’s Department store.
Now it is hoping to reinvent itself just a little by taking its classic designs and attention to detail and adding a dollop of twenty first century innovation and styling.
And that’s exactly what you get with these Brogues. Named the Langham Suede they are available in four striking colours – Navy, Brown and a very unusual Red and Olive Green.
They will be on sale soon – John White sells through a number of stores including John Lewis as well as their own website. Yours for £150.
They also have some lovely Moccasins in a variety of colours too.
We haven’t featured a Brutus Trimfit shirt for awhile so I thought I’d check the website out. And then I found this. It is an Original 70s “Golfer” Print from the Brutus archive that’s 100% cotton and comes in light blue and I love it. It straddles that line between kitsch and cool and to me anyhow is equal parts of both.
The shirt also has a rolled button-down collar (apparently each shirt is specially packed so that the roll remains intact) and has Brutus’ trademark button detail and vent on sleeve. Heaven only knows when it will be warm enough to wear it though.
And yes that cover looks great too. The images were taken by ace photographer Dean Chalkley who has lots of images of contemporary mods (and a film too – see the bottom of the page) on his site here.
Anyway back to the book. There have been plenty of Mod books before, but this looks like being a fairly definitive one for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it looks like it is going to properly tackle Mod history and its greater influence on popular culture in a way that other books haven’t. It is a moot point, for example, whether the real inheritors of the Mod tradition in the 1980s were the Acid House mob at the end of the decade (they took pills and danced all night), the C86ers (they had the bowl cuts and loved the 60s music) or the Casuals (whose clothes were more in keeping with traditional sharp mod values and tended to be more working class like the original Mods).
Without pre-guessing what Weight is going to write in his book I think he will make the case that Mod influenced them all. And that’s a story that hasn’t really been written in any depth.
The second reason why the book looks great is that Richard Weight is a very accomplished author. I read his Patriots book over a decade ago, and although I don’t remember too much about it now, I recall being impressed by both the depth of his research, and also the way he wasn’t afraid to fire off his opinions. The book looks at national identity in Britain between 1940 and 2000 and the decline of British-ness in favour of stronger associations of being English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish. It really needs an update too and I’d be fascinated to read his views on the way that The Olympics, the popularity of The Monarchy and immigration have all fueled a revival of Britishness. Yet at the same time we could be just years away from Scotland leaving the Union.
In many ways too there hasn’t been a better time for the Mod book. Bradley Wiggins is still everywhere, heritage brands like Ben Sherman and Fred Perry are back in the limelight and there are plenty of bands who are creating music that has 60s influences at their heart.
The Who touring Quadrophenia a few months after the book launch should help too.
Anyhow, I am very excited by the book’s arrival and if you want to know more here’s the blurb from the publishers.
Welcome to the world of the sharp-suited ‘faces’. The Italianistas. The scooter-riding, all-night-dancing instigators of what became, from its myriad sources, a very British phenomenon.
Mod began life as the quintessential working-class movement of a newly affluent nation – a uniquely British amalgam of American music and European fashions that mixed modern jazz with modernist design in an attempt to escape the drab conformity, snobbery and prudery of life in 1950s Britain. But what started as a popular cult became a mainstream culture, and a style became a revolution.
In Mod, Richard Weight tells the story of Britain’s biggest and most influential youth cult. He charts the origins of Mod in the Soho jazz scene of the 1950s, set to the cool sounds of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. He explores Mod’s heyday in Swinging London in the mid-60s – to a new soundtrack courtesy of the Small Faces, the Who and the Kinks. He takes us to the Mod-Rocker riots at Margate and Brighton, and into the world of fashion and design dominated by Twiggy, Mary Quant and Terence Conran.
But Mod did not end in the 1960s. Richard Weight not only brings us up to the cult’s revival in the late 70s – played out against its own soundtrack of Quadrophenia and the Jam – but reveals Mod to be the DNA of British youth culture, leaving its mark on glam and Northern Soul, punk and Two Tone, Britpop and rave.
This is the story of Britain’s biggest and brassiest youth movement – and of its legacy. Music, film, fashion, art, architecture and design – nothing was untouched by the eclectic, frenetic, irresistible energy of Mod.
As ever Clarks has a superb range of classic casual men’s shoes and of its latest arrivals I am quite taken with these Marden Grove leather shoes. These are in navy and are already sold out on the Clarks store though you can get them here. There are also versions in tan leather and wolf suede.
They are great quality navy leather with the twist being the piping, which is this year’s big thing apparently. Nevertheless they look great and retail for £59.99.
We are big fans of the Farrell brand. In case you haven’t come across them yet they are an quirky English indie with ex-Burberry fella Ben Dickens at the helm and Robbie Williams, yes him, providing some of the inspiration.
They also have a blog that sometime can be laugh out loud funny.
And they have just unveiled their spring summer collection and we really like a lot of it. There’s a lot of navy and white, some very classy lightweight rain coats, striking knitwear and more. There’s a whiff of the 1950s about it, especially that bowling shirt.
Here are five of their items which caught our eye. You can view the whole collection on their website.
Ok, so it might still be freezing outside and summer wear probably isn’t that high on your mind, but spring and summer collections are already filtering their way through to the stores and one very impressive range is from Levi’s.
But it is the striped T shirts that have caught my eye. This £62 striped T shirt is available in four different incarnations including burnt orange, but I reckon it is this blue version that will be the big seller.
It has a great pattern and is made from super soft cotton. It is quite fitted too.
As you probably already know Primark doesn’t sell its range online. You have to go into the store to buy its clothes. It can also be a bit hit and miss with what it sells too. However the spring collection, which seems to be filtering its way into its stores now, looks like its strongest for a while.
We have already written about blue suede shoes (well navy ones, but that doesn’t have the cheesy pop culture link) already and Primark has a pair of blue Desert Boots for the give-away price of £15. Like the grey/brown trim and laces too.
Another £15 goodie that caught our eye are these waterproof hooded jackets. They are available in light (Man City esque) blue and brown and sport a white piping at the bottom. They remind me of a jacket that Lambretta sold a few years back. They look like perfect festival wear.
The Savile Row based Richard James has been around since the early 90s and in that time has delivered thousands of sharply cut suits, classic shoes, super warm Merino socks and more.
And if you want some classic, but very contemporary English style then it is worth having a quick peek at the brand’s website now as its sale is about to come to an end.
Up until Saturday you can get as much as 50% of a lot of the winter range including this 100% camel wool zip front, funnel neck cardigan in Atlantic which retails for £150, as opposed to just shy of £300.
I have never worn camel wool but apparently is is light, durable and very warm.
While you are on the site don’t miss the colourful Cashmere and Merino socks – from £9 a pop.
And here’s a quick video of what the brand has planned for the rest of 2013.
Still agonising over whether you need a bag to lug all your gear around? Well I’d get over it. How else are you going to transport your iPad, Kindle, various chargers – and maybe even the odd book or mag if you are old school?
One option that more and more blokes seem to be adopting are medium sized Barrel bags. These are the smaller versions of the the kit bags that you used to put your footy stuff in back in your fourth form days.
There’s now a good range that are suitably stylish, classically retro and big enough to accommodate a load of gadgets.
I love this Navy one from Fred Perry that has just gone on sale via The End. It not only has a striking Blue and Beige finish, but there’s a load of little details too like the Embossed Laurel Logo Stud and the small zip pocket at one end.
You can buy it now for £55. its is also available in grey and yellow and there are also a pair of Fred Perry shoulder bags that sell for £45.