Sunday, March 6, 2011

Details: Backing the Backpack


Jason Dike and his canvas and leather backpack by Jas MB. Worn here, with his recently GQ featured, quilted field blazer by Joe Casely-Hayford for John Lewis

Sunday Morning Companions


This scene is pretty close to my perfect Sunday morning. A quick stroll to the shops in search of a fresh out of the oven almond croissant to accompany a freshly brewed post of coffee and a hot off the press men's magazine. A great deal has been said on the recently launched quarterly publication, Port, so at this point I just want to enjoy the read. I hope you have rubbed the sleep from your eyes and are enjoying this Sunday morning as much as I am.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Details: Zip Trousers

Daniel Jenkins in black flannel zip trousers by Lou Dalton and well worn Vans.

Armando Cabral AW11


Last season, after one of my many visits to the Showroom Next Door, I reported on a new shoe find that captured your attention. The name Armando Cabral might have been familiar to you at the time, but the debut of his eponymous shoe collection made you see him in a fresh light. Now, Cabral is quite simply one of the most recognisable male models but having already made his mark on the catwalk, his namesake shoe range was the next step. The footwear line sees Cabral team up with Rucky Zambrano who spearheaded innovation and technology at Vibram before serving as Head Designer for shoes and accessories at Hugo Boss. Together, they make quite a team. The combination of Cabral's innate style and Zambrano's eye for design and attention to detail has created an elegant addition to the men's footwear market.

The SS11 debut offered a full range of summer classics including desert boots, boating moccasin and woven sandals, all with an individual design signature and a colour palette that longed for the sunshine. For its sophomore collection, Armando Cabral takes inspiration from traveling, with a focus on Europe. Marking a continuity with the past season, there are classic sneakers, but these sit next to brand new designs which include boots inspired by the traditions of Northern Europe, and classic mountaineering styles that are ideal for the cold winter that no doubt lies ahead.

The reworked oxford. The style is much more subtle compared to some hybrids already on the market.

The leathers are, just like last season, stunning.

Reworked desert boots with flashes of colour. I have my eye on the Arsenal red pair above.

Mountaineering inspired boots.

Winter friendly boots that looked to Northern Europe for inspiration.

Hand-made in Italy out of the finest leathers, the collection introduces a fresh perspective on traditional styles, ranging from re-worked oxfords to hybrid desert boots. In only two short seasons, there is a sense that Armando Cabral is close to creating a fully rounded collection. The SS11 collection was devoted to the sunshine months and the AW11 collection prepares for a long, varied winter.

Earlier this week, I flicked through Tommy Ton's selection of LFW snapshots over at GQ and was instantly struck by the parade of fresh, out of the box shoes. Was I the only person who didn't and instead preferred to wear an old favourite (my Kudu boots). Did I miss the memo? If I follow the masses in September, don't be at all surprised if you see me marching through puddles in a fresh pair  of Armando Cabral desert boots.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Matthew Miller AW11


Nothing represents the diversity of menswear design talent quite like the NEWGEN MEN and Fashion East Menswear installations. For the past few seasons this exciting cocktail of new and emerging talent has consistently been one of the real highlights of Menswear Day. This season was no different as the installations conquered the Garden Show Rooms at Somerset House. I excitedly bounced from room to room discovering the latest designs from the likes of Agi & Sam, Astrid Andersen, Baartmans & Siegel, Sebastian Tarek and William Richard Green to name but a few. Just when I thought I could take no more and that it just could not get any better, I encountered Matthew Miller's presentation. 

Ever since, he first came to our attention with his standout RCA MA graduate collection which explored notions of masculinity with a somewhat jovial approach to the macabre, we have kept a close on Miller's continued development and rise to prominence. Whilst evolving his signature style in recent seasons he has enjoyed a few highlights, including being labelled by Vogue as one to watch, winning the MacArthur Glen Spirit of Fashion Award and being picked up by Selfridges. For AW11, with the modern man as its focal point, Miller's collection draws its influences from two seemingly opposing ideals, humanism versus naturalism and is influenced by Joseph Beuys, travel in the twenty-first century and a perfect number.

Matthew Miller is a designer who explores the modern world and its impact on masculinity. The working man's role in society has shifted and evolved over the years and here, Miller attempts to reinstate these lost values to suit the time in which we live today. Here, the design talent introduces his revival of masculinity. The collection itself focuses on mixing tradition and practicality at all times. The clothes and accessories are designed to fit the needs and functional demands of the contemporary man. One of the standout pieces are the Duffel coats in melange wool which have had their toggles replaced with M33, industrial strength, Karabiners. The perfect expect of tradition updated. Elsewhere, the accessories were a real talking point. Melange wool was teamed with leather and Marlow rope to create a complete set of adaptable luggage which are designed to attach to or fit inside one another. The prominent Marlow rope inspired digital print t shirts and long johns. At all times there is a marriage of tradition and either practicality or technology...   





Presentation images by me.

Now, the collection itself might be grounded in a neutral palette of greys and oatmeals but there are of course flashes of colour provided by acid yellow and cobalt blue. Last night, Miller sent through his dazzingly bright look book and I'm pleased to be able to share them with you...

Look Book Credits:
Photographer Ian Paul Higginson
Art Direction Rob Meyers
Model Elliott Dillon at M and P models
Shoes by TF Slack

Matthew Miller's presentation was one of the real highlights of a Menswear Day that was packed to the brim with talent. Despite huge competition for show slots, I would not be at all be surprised to see Matthew Miller graduate to an on schedule showcase. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

James Small AW11 Marching Band


As the schedule at Menswear Day becomes ever more tightly packed with each passing season, competition for a showing space is fast becoming a struggle. James Small narrowly missed out on an on schedule slot but thankfully the show did indeed go albeit without me. In a cramped afternoon schedule that saw me bounce from James Long to E. Tautz to the NEWGEN MEN and Fashion East Installations to Lou Dalton without time to pee. Fortunately, London menswear is more than just one hectic day and think week I was afforded the opportunity to be talked through Small's third collection, Marching Band.

Ever since launching his eponymous label for AW10, James Small has quietly and assuredly introduced his talent to the capital's menswear scene. It is here though, with Marching Band that sees the design talent take a huge strive forward. Taking its inspiration from the ragamuffin regiments  the American Civil War, Small has created a complete wardrobe of military influenced pieces for the man of today. Below we talk to the man himself and learn about the origins of the label, the trials and tribulations of being a designer and take a closer look at the fabric rich collection.

James Small Marching Band 1

SS: What were your inspirations, your dreams and the driving catalyst behind launching your own label?
James Small: There was a time when I loved working for other people. I can remember that when I was working with Kim (Jones) I declared that I would never want to do it on my own, it felt like it would be too much hassle and stress. However, I left a job that I wasn't particular happy in and couldn't quite find anything quite right for me. Obviously at that time it wasn't the best of economic times so it was tough. Bryan McMahon kept on telling me to do my own thing and I suddenly decided to give it a go. With a help of a few friends, I was able to create my collection and then with the help of Lulu Kennedy I managed to show it on schedule. In a sense, it all happened so quickly and before I knew it, I was doing it.

SS: How have the first twelve months of James Small, the brand, been?
James Small: It is stressful and a learning experience but it is great. I had a game plan and I'm sticking to it. So this season, the goal was to work on production and build on stockists and we've done this.

James Small Marching Band 2

SS: Now, on to Marching Band. You were influenced by the American Civil War but what was your starting point?
James Small: The initial inspiration came from this really great book that I picked up in Foyles that details reenactments of the Us Civil War. In addition to the imagery, there are some great quotes in the front of it and there was one phrase in particular that captured my imagination, "regiments took on a ragamuffin appearance". I love the idea of them wearing and modifying their civilian clothes for war, for example jackets with plaid shirting fabric stitched on to the elbows. However, as much as I love research and I particularly enjoyed it this season, the key is not to take it too literally, you can't be caught up in it

SS: The collection certainly doesn't feel like fancy dress...
James Small: Exactly. When people hear about the influence of the Civil War, they tend to expect more obvious references within the collection but I didn't want it to feel like costume. There are a couple of pieces in the collection that are directly related to the period, for example the Civil War Bolero, the Cavalry jacket and the Civil War trouser that are just great and haven't been exaggerated at all. However, most of it is just influenced by this ragamuffin mood.

James Small Marching Band 3

SS: I was instantly struck by the variety of fabrics used within the collection. It has everything from camo to florals to jersey to cord to Harris Tweed...
James Small: The collection uses so many different fabrics, there's even a corduroy cape which I've never seen before. When you are a smaller designer, you can have that bit more luxury in working in fabrics for particular garments and experimenting that bit more. It can be a lot of fun. We used camo and floral in the SS11 film and the reaction to it was great so and it made me a little braver so I wanted to do it again. I love the camo print, we made a pair of shorts for last season and had some left over and I wanted a pair of trousers.

SS: In terms of your design method, do you begin with the fabrics and work from there?
James Small: I consider the fabrics quite late if I'm often. It always begins with sketching and drawing and evolves from there. I'm always doodling. Also, I collect quite a lot of military wear and there might be a particular detail on a jacket that I want to explore. I do enjoy sourcing fabrics but most of the time I have everything worked up in toile form before I start considering them. I do love going in to places on Berwick street for shirting and to Cloth House to see all of them lined up.

James Small Marching Band 4

SS: You mentioned collecting military garments. How does your collection influence your design?
James Small: I never like to imitate and any influence is much more subtle. It could be a particular detail, for example a hood or in the case of a number of the jackets for this season, a shin guard strap and this is taken from oversized military stuff I've found.

SS: Do you design with a particular man in mind?
James Small: The collection really is a reflection of my wardrobe and my friends wardrobes. I strive to create a rounded wardrobe in each collection. I do love proper trousers, two pleats down the front, a cinch back, trousers that you can wear with braces with a notch in the back and I just love the sailor pant. This season I have used Harris Tweed for three pairs. They are really easy to wear, two buttons down the front and you're away.

SS: Finally, how do you see James Small, the brand, developing over the next few seasons?
James Small: I would love to show on schedule. It is a lovely thing to do, I enjoy the instant response and the fact that people who might not ordinarily see have the the opportunity to do so. It is a treat at the end of the season really. Looking forward, I want to develop the brand, I want to see the collection in department stores and I want the collection itself to grow.

James Small Marching Band 5


Now, both the look book and above interview demonstrate James Small's eye for detail and love of fabric but as I spoke through the collection with the designer, I could not help but take a few close up shots...

A selection of close up detail shots.

As well as the admiring glances from the press, you'll be pleased to hear that the collection has led to a few buyers reaching for their cheque books. So the designs will be available next season.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Softly rounded collar

Club collar shirt by Patrick Ervell.

From club to Eton, Peter Pan to the golf collar, this no points collar goes by many monikers. Whatever you want to call it, I'm currently obsessed with it. Patrik Ervell makes some of the finest slim fitted options on the market and I was fortunate enough to pick up this little beauty in the January sale. I'm looking forward to wearing this shirt this upcoming Spring and beyond.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Celebrity style: fustele maxi

Fustele maxi s-au purtat in sezonul rece si continua sa fie in tendinte.
Daca iti place si nu stii cum sa o porti arunca o privire la celebritatile style-setter.
Tilda Swinton in fusta Jil Sander

Kate Bosworth in tricou si fusta Jil Sander

Hannah Herzsprung in fusta si tricou Jil Sander

Shenae Grimes in Elizabeth and James

Jenna Dewan-Tatum in Winter Kate

Olivia Palermo in Topshop

Beau Garett in Elizabeth and James

Mr Hare AW11 Idolescents

As you should all know by now Mr Hare, the brand not the man, was conceived at a roadside tapas bar in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Andalucia, Spain on July 23rd 2008. The brand was born out of his realisation that there just were not enough shoes in the world that he liked. Thankfully, for us he decided to do something about it. Ever the shoe aficionado, Hare looked to the woven leather shoes of an old gentleman sitting next to him, admired them but decided that with a few tweaks they could be awesome. Moments later the brand was born. From this point it took a mere three hundred and sixty days for his creations to land on the shop floor at Dover Street Market. This whirlwind of success has since seen three more collections, all of have deservedly received widespread acclaim and resulted in an ever increasing stockist list. The debut collection was all about making the shoes that he had never quite found in his life, killer evening shoes that could be worn through the day as well. The shophomore collection was concentrated on looking fly when kicking it on the equator. The third crossed the English Channel for inspiration and focused our attention on Paris and the French New Wave Film movement. Whilst in Ain't no App for That Hare showcased shapes and materials that I've never come across before. With each season, Mr Hare pushes it that bit more. 

Now, it is with great pleasure that we unveil Mr Hare's fifth collection. Entitled Idolescents, it is a reimagination of all of the shoes that he wanted as a teenager but could never afford in addition to all of the ones that he could afford made better. Simply, Idolescents. The collection itself is huge this season with additions of Fagin, Geronimo, London Derby, Isambard, Hannibal, Mitchell and Joplin to name but a few new characters. There is now a sense of a complete collection, a shoe wardrobe. The brief for Mr Hare is a deceptively simple one, to create an option for every man, for any occasion with added Hare flair. However, in addition to growing his offering and four seasons on, Hare still sits down every season and looks at how even his best selling models can be improved, refined and elevated to the next level. To mark the next chapter of Mr Hare, we sat down with the man himself to take a closer look at his latest designs and talk through the continued rise of his shoe company...

The new additions recently assembled at the Showroom Next Door.

SS: Entitled Idolescents, your fifth collection is a reimagination of all of the shoes that he wanted as a teenager but could never afford and all of the ones that he could afford made better. Could you talk us through the starting point, which shoes inspired the concept and forced you to Hare-ify them?
Mr Hare: Most of the answer is in the question really Stevie why don't I just interview you next time? I have to have a good reason to make a shoe and I don't want to just make things that already exist. Shoes to me are all about the feeling I got the first time I put them on. My first Rudeboy loafers. My first DMs. My first penny loafers. My first brogues. My first Timberlands. My first Gucci loafers. My first Jordans. Me and those shoes could kill any other shoe in the room, bounce, be nonchalant, skip in the rain, dance, walk up a mountain and back down the other side. I took those feelings as a starting point and made some Mr. Hare shoes to do that stuff in.

Getting to know the new lineup. Say hello to the Penny Loafers, Fagin, Isambard and Hannibal.

SS: The collection is huge this season with additions of Fagin, Geronimo, London Derby, Isambard, Hannibal, Mitchell and Jopling to name but a few new characters. Could you introduce these new carefully crafted characters to us?
Mr Hare: What can i say? I know a little bit about a lot of things. All will be explained closer to the season when the AW11 web site goes up in June.

The Hannibal eleven in two colourways.

SS: One of the most striking additions is the Hannibal boot (both eight hole and eleven hole). Here, rather than create an imitation hiking or sportswear boot, you looked to the classic heavy boot, the Dr Marten and made them instantly better with the use of beautiful leathers, sheep skin tongue, vibram sole and of course one extra hole to name but a few features. Could you talk us through your design approach in this instance?
Mr Hare: When it was snowing last Christmas I didn't have a suitable pair of Mr. Hare shoes to wear in that weather. I had to resort to my trusty hiking boots I got from Low Pressure (RIP). So I had to resolve that situation. Now Mr. Hare is many things but it is not a faux Hiking company or a faux work-wear company or a faux ski boot company. Mr. Hare is a skinhead company though. Mr. Hare is an 80s club kid company. Mr. Hare is a warehouse rave company. Mr. Hare is a festival company, is a fashion company and very proud to be all those things. So when I had to make a boot that would get me to those places and act like those people the Hannibal is the result.

The sexy profile of the Hannibal. Beautiful leathers, calf lined and pad, sheep skin tongue, more pronounced toe, Vibram sole and eleven holes instead of DM's ten. Pushing it that bit more. 

SS: Here, you experiment with direct branding for the first time on your shoes. With the Fagin and Hannibal boots, we see the subtle presence of the four hares and a swan for the first time. Why now? Was it differentiate your offering for this season? To open new markets?
Mr Hare: I just never made anything before that would have benefited from having our lovely logo on it. The Hare Four Swans logo depicts a confident Hare in the intimate company of four beautiful swans, a situation we can all appreciate or aspire to. It's a beautiful logo which was drawn by the super talented Marley Lohr who also shoots all the Mr. Hare imagery. I love the logo and it looks awesome on the side of my boots. It had nothing to do with world domination.

A closer look at the Hannibal's beautiful leather and Vibram sole.

SS: This season also marks experimentation with the classic Derby for the first time. Of course, there is the favoured Orwell but that is a far dressier version. The London Derby is much more classic in its persuasion. What attracted you to take this shoe icon on?
Mr Hare: I am trying to make a complete mens footwear company. As I learn more about the different shoes that exist I am going to attempt to Mr. Hare them up. I started with oxfords because I was obsessed with the elegant and refined nature of them. Derby's are more of a Northern European construction which allow feet with higher arches easier access than oxfords. They also work better with thicker socks. When I started making shoes, my head was definitely dancing around the Mediterranean in a constant endless summer of elegant evening soirees and boat parties. The last two winters in London certainly added to my shoe perspective hence the introduction of heavier Dainite soled derby's and boots for kicking it Mr. Hare style in the slush.

The London Derby.

SS: Alongside the new additions, you have once again reworked older favourites. From collection to collection, there is a sense of you refining your creations as you go. Now on your fifth collection, what have you learnt, both in terms of the craft of shoemaking and what makes a Mr Hare shoe?
Mr Hare: There is a reason why all the classic shoe companies have such great classic shoes. They have years and years of experience of designing, cutting, constructing and presenting their shoes. My shoe making history goes back exactly two years, six months and two days. Through deliberately mistreating my own Mr. Hare shoes and correspondence with other Mr. Hare shoe wearers around the world and constantly looking at what other shoe companies do and new young shoe design talents, I learn something new every single day. Even with our top selling shoes I sit down every season and look at how they can be improved or refined.

The stunning Geronimo.

SS: Once again, the collection showcases shapes and materials that I've never come across before. The natural grain patent being one of the standouts. How do you source your leathers? Can you tell us a bit about the tanneries that you work with?
Mr Hare: Without wanting to sound like one of those handcrafted, years of experience, bench made Jizfests that get posted on YouTube by everyone these days, everything Mr. Hare is sourced in the Tuscan hills by Italians. Not wishing to sound racist but Italians have a pride level which most other races lack. The things they make are an extension and 3D manifestation of that national pride. They don't massage the cows or play classical music to them to make the leather better. No. What happens is that when the skins get to the tannery, the people who work there won't let those skins out the door until they are better than skins from anywhere else in the world. It's all about reputation. It costs more, but it is better. Our main tannery this season is called Conceria 800 who pride themselves on making the finest vegetable tanned skins available.

Meet Isambard. A feat of shoe engineering.

SS: With Idolescents there is a sense of a complete collection, a shoe wardrobe. An option for every man, for any occassion. How conscious are you in your desire to create a complete offering?
Mr Hare: Mr. Hare is a men's shoe company of the modern age. I have no interest in making I-pad cases or women's stilettos or plastic action figures. For me it has to be about rocking stush shoes 24/7 sun, rain, wind, snow, hurricane. All day, all weather with just a little Mr. Hare flair. It's a very tight brief but one that will keep me busy for the rest of my life.

The Fagin. 
It is difficult not to fall for this boots charms. High shine leather, Vaccetta and suede, so it will age beautifully.

SS: Looking back over the collection now, what are you most proud of?
Mr Hare: I am most proud of how good the styles in the first Purest Form collection are because every season, no matter what I throw at them in terms of new designs, they still hold their own. We definitely produce better and better shoes each season yet the Miller, Fitzgerald, Orwell, Genet and even the Kerouac still stand up as genuine classic Mr. Hare shoes.

The popular Bazin from last season in new materials.

SS: Now, Idolescents focuses your design attentions on the shoes of your youth. Having just been treated to menswear fashion weeks across the globe and the release of SS11 collections landing in stores, is there anything that you'd particularly like to get your hands on to reimagine?
Mr Hare: I am done with the re-imagining. It was a period where I went back to my own personal shoe experience to try and replicate the feelings I had growing up and hitting those shoe moments. From now on it will be strictly new hits.

The Desert boot. Every shoe company needs to offer a desert boot.

SS: Since conceiving Mr Hare by a roadside Tapas bar in July 2008 your rise has been remarkable and it must have been something of a whirlwind for you. How have the last four seasons been for Mr Hare?
Mr Hare: Awesome. For the first time in my life I feel like I am in a constant state of progression. I have driven down a lot of cul de sacs in my life and right now I am headed west following the sun on a big empty road with a full tank of gas with no fixed destination. I am in charge. The last four seasons have been mad busy and some days things go wrong, but when it is you who has to be busy and fix problems for your own cause then you will be amazed how much easier it is. I can definitely say I am happier and closer to my good friends and enjoying the simpler things in life tenfold.

Still one of my favourites, the Genet tasseled loafer. 
The Genet utilises fine Italian suede and the swagger of a thousand Latin lovers.

SS: Your creations can now be found across the world in an expanding selection of fine retail outlets, from Selfridges to Collete, Beams to Gravity Pope, Joyce to Mr Porter. Can you tell us about any new stockists you've recently picked up as I know our readers are always keen to get their hands on a pair of your shoes?
Mr Hare: As with anything in life you can only hope to hook up with bright spark people, totally switched on and doing what they do in the total belief of actually doing something as well as it can possibly be done. Never resting on their laurels but making each season twice as good as the previous. Game recognise Game. Independent retailers !! They cost more but they keep the standard high so cheap ass retailers can't slip. I used to own an independent boutique in London and it is one of the most difficult jobs I ever had. Good independent retailers take the most risks and lead where the rest of the retail supply chain follow. In hard times they get hit the hardest and in good times their rents become astronomical but without those stores there would be no new brands. New talent would not stand a chance. Therefore I implore you to support your local neighbourhood independent, even if they don't stock Mr. Hare.

A closer look at the London Derby.

SS: Finally, what can we expect from Mr Hare in the coming seasons?
Mr Hare: Don't ever expect anything in life because you will probably get run over by a truck coming the other way

For AW11, the Onyx becomes the Jopling.

Mr Hare is a work in progress. A stunning work that just gets better and better. From season to season there is is constant evolution and revolution. With a brand like Mr. Hare, the whole process is a learning experience for this shoe obsessive. In our first interview with the designer back in February 2009 which marked the launch of his debut collection, Hare conceded that his best work was yet to come. "Design is an ongoing process. You start somewhere and by constantly re examining that start point or imagining new start points you end up somewhere else." With Idolescents, Hare once again proves that he can raise the bar each season whilst creating shoes that we fall head over heels for.

The continued rise of Mr Hare continues. 
Top of his shoe game but still striving to go that bit higher and to push it that bit harder