It pains me slightly to say it, but we have reached the time of year where we can kiss goodbye to the light evenings and the promises and hopes for that ever-elusive Indian Summer. Winter is all but here, the evenings are getting darker and the weather is getting inevitably colder. With the advent of Winter, naturally we all tend to pile on the layers and wrap up warm. With winter accessories – namely gloves – many men fall into the trap of opting for functionality over fashion. Obviously the priority for most men is keeping their extremities warm (by ‘extremities’ I am referring to fingers for the dirty-minded conclusion jumpers out there!), but there is no reason why you can’t opt for a stylish, on-trend glove instead of reaching for the trusty and functional, padded ski/workmen glove. They may do the job, but bulgy, marshmallow hands do not a stylish man make! This year there are a plethora of glove-choices out there, so stylish choices for your hands are (literally) at your fingertips!
Over the past few months FashionBeans writers have advocated a selection of trends for this season, all of which have filtered down the fashion food chain and have influenced all types of fashion choices – including Winter accessories. We have seen articles on trends such as Urban Bohemia, Town meets Country, Tweed, Lumberjack Plaid and the Nomad trend recently championed by ASOS. The diversity of these trends means that there is a wide selection of fashion choices out there and this has also reached the modest world of the glove – offering a vast selection of heat-retaining mitts for us gents. From sumptuous leather driving gloves, to chunky woollen mittens, to fingerless hand knits, there really is something out there to please everyone.
Gloves On The Runways
Looking at the recent Autumn/Winter catwalk shows in New York, London and Milan the influence on gloves is clear for everybody to see. Many designers marked the welcome return of the leather glove, which is a clearly favoured traditional classic. 3.1 Phillip Lim and Billy Reid showed a preference for bulky, heavily-padded leather gloves with overemphasised fur cuff detail, whereas Lanvin and A Child Of The Jago opted for fingerless, perforated leather driving-style gloves. Designers such as G-Star and Rick Owens went a step further and clad their models’ arms in elbow length leather gloves – a length often associated with upper class ladies from the early 20th Century.
Moving away from leather, designers such as Iceberg, Topman Design and Band of Outsiders showed a preference for knitted fabrics with woollen mittens and oversized, ribbed, fingerless gloves – almost acting like a balaclava for the hands. D&G showed their support for the Nomad trend by featuring chunky Fair Isle knit gloves in vivid blues and maroons and also supported the shearling trend with some cosy, rugged shearling gloves for extra warmth. Support for pattern was also shown by the Alexander McQueen collection where BMX-style padded gloves appeared in a dramatic camouflage print showing support for another trend which recently polarised opinion on FashionBeans.
Although I have never personally been a great fan of all things leather, the recent surge in popularity of leather gloves has succeeded in changing my mind. When it comes to gloves, leather styles really do stand out as the refined choice and have undertones of the traditional, distinguished gentleman. Leather gloves tend to be much less bulky than their knitted counterparts and offer a more sleek, sharp shape. The lack of bulk means that they do not impede the hands at all and it is clear to see why leather is the fabric of choice for traditional driving and biker gloves – where free use of the hands is essential. But being functional does not mean being boring, and the choice of leather gloves out there proves this. The driving glove-style often contains stitching embellishments and detailing such as perforations and cut-outs, and snap enclosures at the wrist which add subtle nuances of originality. They are debonair enough to be worn with a suit to the office, but work equally as well with casual outfits to offer a workable contrast.
Leather is one of those fabrics which only improves with age – especially if well-looked after – which is very important if you are paying a slightly higher price for a decent pair of leather gloves. If you opt for leather gloves, clean and condition them with specific leather-cleaning products to maximise longevity, and be aware that direct heat will desecrate the leather – so no draping over the radiators after a particularly rainy spell outside in the traditional British winter weather!
Some designers have also embraced leather but given it a more modern twist by using less traditional cuts and lengths, whilst also teaming leather with other fabrics to add a sense of uniqueness. Giuliano Fujiwara’s collection of gloves embrace this way of working with leather beautifully. The collection offers leather fingerless gloves which reach mid-way up the arm, and also a fingerless leather style with a woollen lining, where the contrast of fabrics work beautifully to create a unique style:
When you think of gloves, most people would think about knitted versions before any other type of fabric. Knitted gloves are great because they are versatile and so many different styles, colours and cuts can be created. One of the most popular versions at the moment is the fingerless glove, which is a brilliant alternative to the standard glove which covers the whole hand. Fingerless gloves fully support the Urban Bohemia trend championed by myself in a previous article and looking like part of Fagin’s gang from Oliver has never been more apt. (Although of course I am not advocating using the dexterity offered by fingerless gloves to personify the Artful Dodger and turn to picking a pocket or two!) The fingerless aspect means you can still use your digits effectively without removing the whole glove. This not only means that you can easily play with your touch screen phone or MP3, but also means that you lower the risk of losing or misplacing your gloves because they do not have to leave your hand! Ingenious! And if you are concerned about fingerless gloves because your fingers are still exposed to the elements, then opt for the fingerless mitten option where an additional mitten covering can be folded over to cover the exposed parts. Even more ground-breakingly ingenious!
The versatility of knitted gloves really works currently as there are so many different trends which are being popularised. ASOS have a wide range of colourful Fair-Isle and Navajo style gloves for those supportive of the Nomad trend, and Topman offer a great selection of chunky fingerless knitted mitts in support of the layered Urban Bohemia look – I am particularly liking the Navy Cable Turnback gloves. Details magazine also recently included a feature on Pendleton gloves which feature a lumberjack style plaid pattern, bucking the woodcutter trend, and Topman also have a luxurious looking pair of Harris tweed herringbone/leather gloves which add a modern Town Meets Country twist to any outfit whilst also supporting the tweed-mania sweeping our good nation. The combination of Harris tweed and leather also work brilliantly together.
For those of you who want to be even more ambitious, then the Paul Smith Jeans Hunter Mitts and Maison Martin Margiela Lambskin Mittens offer a great mitten alternative with shearling lining offering additional warmth. Mittens are often overlooked as childish and although they can be quite cumbersome and impractical when it comes to doing anything with your hands, the benefit is that mittens offer the best insulation of all glove-types due to the fact that your fingers are all enclosed beneath a single woollen sheath rather than individual finger-sheaths. So even bulky hand wear has its benefits during the icy months.
Gloves really can add embellishment and finishing touches to a look, allowing you to show support for a trend without being too obvious. I am sure there are a lot of men out there who like the idea of vividly colourful Fair-Isle patterned jumpers and Harris tweed plus-fours, but far fewer men who actually have the courage and bravado to wear them. Therefore, why not support your trend of choice in a more subtle way – by adding a modern pop to your normal outfit with some stand-out Navajo gloves, or sleek leather fingerless hand warmers. Remember with all things fashion, often less is more for effortlessly effective fashion success. It seems too early to say this as it is only November (or Movember for all you ‘mo’ growers out there!), but the Christmas onslaught is on its way, and what better gift idea than a pair of unique, on-trend gloves – so get composing those Christmas lists.