Looking Forward

Twice a year, sartorially-conscious gents and the fashion literati take extra care to press their shirts and polish their shoes, for the start of the menswear show season.

Leading the way is the British capital’s showcase, London Collections: MEN. Now in its fourth season, LC:M consistently proves its design mettle before the circus decamps to the glittering style capitals of New York, Paris and Milan.

Delivered with drama, gentlemanly poise and contemporary flair, the AW14 showcase, which took place between 6-8th of January, was the most action-packed to date.

In this comprehensive two-part piece, we break down the key themes and trends from this round of LC:M, to glean an insight into what may be inhabiting our wardrobes next winter – offering you the perfect opportunity to get ahead of the game…

Military Manoeuvres

The might of military styling is yet to relinquish its hold on modern menswear. Masculine and functional, army-inspired design is a genre that all men can get to grips with.

This season’s LC:M saw a distinctive military slant, with designers reinventing traditional styles and detailing.

Lou Dalton, who opened the event with the first show of the season, is one designer who has always been partial to a dash of utilitarian style, and her AW14 line was no exception: bold camo shirts were seen layered beneath knits, utility workwear shirting was key, and RAF-inspired bombers and heavy-duty army boots lent further military weight to the collection.

Elsewhere, Topman Design’s and Richard Nicoll’s sharp woollen pea coats paid tribute to Britain’s proud navy traditions, while Christopher Raeburn’s utility parka, sturdy hiking boots and khaki trousers inspired the mood of a military expedition to the Arctic:

Military Styling Seen on the LC:M AW14 Runways at Lou Dalton, Topman Design, Richard Nicol and Christopher Raeburn

Christopher RaeburnChristopher RaeburnRichard NicollLou DaltonLou DaltonTopman Design
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Modern Men's Military Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

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Trawler Clobber

The hard-working fisherman was a strong source of inspiration for many designer’s technical pieces at LC:M.

An unashamedly masculine aesthetic that is perfect for tackling our inclement British climate, many shows revealed functional rain macs, rubberised treatments and shower-proof materials.

The fisherman was very much at the heart of the Topman Design collection, with models walking a sodden runway (due to simulated rain) in rubberised raincoats/duffles, PVC trousers and woven knits inspired by the structure of fishing nets:

Military Styling Seen on the LC:M AW14 Runways at Topman Design

YMC’s anti-trend utilitarian collection exhibited clean-lined rain macs produced in partnership with Swedish label Grunden, alongside heavy gauge cable knits reminiscent of Irish Aran jumpers, while C.P. Company’s parkas demonstrated that style and function can go perfectly hand-in-hand.

At the MAN show, Alan Taylor included exquisitely textured fisherman knits sporting abstract shadow prints, while Pringle of Scotland, Baartmans & Siegel and Richard Nicoll also worked trawler-inspired woollens into their collections:

Military Styling Seen on the LC:M AW14 Runways at YMC, C.P Company, Richard Nicoll, Pringle of Scotland and Baartmans & Sigel

YMCRichard NicollBaartmans and SiegelAlan TaylorPringle Of ScotlandCP COMPANY
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Animal Antics

For even the most carefree observers, the penchant for animal antics in this season’s shows was irrefutable.

Delivered with a playful sense of humour in the form of intarsia knits, printed motifs and exotic-skin patterns, four-legged inspiration could be seen throughout many contemporary collections.

The most inspired tribute to our furry friends came from Kit Neale, with his artistic accolade to the humble rat. Printed on sweatshirts, denim-style jackets, relaxed-fit trousers and backpacks, the much-derided rodent took on a friendlier, fashionable form. Even belt loops were embellished with fluffy rat keyrings, reinforcing a light-hearted, youthful mood.

Also central to the collection was the elephant, a nod to South London’s Elephant and Castle district, with the trunked Goliath appearing on sweatshirts, jackets and shirting in vibrant multi-tone glory.

Christopher Raeburn’s aforementioned Arctic-inspired collection used the polar bear as its signature motif, which was employed on sweatshirts, bomber jackets and knits.

Orlebar Brown showed a menagerie of tropical birds, including parakeets and flamingos alongside its jungle palm-frond prints, while Sibling’s stitched canine top and leopard print trousers/knitwear couldn’t help but garner attention.

Katie Eary and Bobby Abley were also partial to a dash of animal behaviour with their over-blown leopard print treatments and playful cartoon crow motifs:

Animal Prints & Motifs on the AW14 LC:M Runways at Kit Neale, Christopher Raeburn, Katie Eary, Orlebar Brown and Sibling

Christopher RaeburnChristopher RaeburnKatie EarySiblingSiblingBobby AbleyOrlebar BrownOrlebar BrownKit Neale
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Animal Prints & Motifs Outfits Lookbook

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  • Topman Navy Leopard Pattern SocksTopman Navy Leopard Pattern Socks
Fifty Shades Of Rouge

If SS14′s LC:M was all about bold yellows and oranges, this round of autumn/winter certainly had an inclination towards red.

In a predominantly dark palette of black, grey and navy, red was used in a range of differing shades, providing an energetic lift to winter-induced blues.

Topman Design demonstrated a particular penchant for the hue, with scarlet duffles/fisherman knits and crimson wool trousers/overcoats creating a bold contrast against the collection’s heavy blacks.

Sibling and Katie Eary were also advocates, using rich red and burgundy in their statement knitwear and leopard-print separates, respectively.

With its artsy-inspired collection, Burberry proved its loyalty to the shade with its ‘Kilim Burgundy’ and ‘Bordeaux’ St Ives bags, leaf-print scarves, outerwear and blankets.

British knitwear specialists John Smedley used the tone strategically, arranging multiple hues together on its graphic and block striped merino jumpers, while Jonathan Saunders used the colour’s bright and iridescent shades to full effect on knitwear, trousers and bombers in his contemporary twist on 1980s high-octane dressing.

Xander Zhou’s futuristic slant on Orientalism also employed the use of red, which is associated with good fortune in the East, for its space-age two-piece ensembles and striped band motifs.

Elsewhere, Richard Nicoll, ever the modern innovator, exhibited his proclivity for the shade of the season with blood red fur-embellished pea coats and rich burgundy bombers/wool overcoats:

Shades of red on the AW14 LC:M Runways at Burberry, Katie Eary, Richard Nicoll, Sibling, Common, John Smedley and Jonathan Saunders, amongst others.

BurberryKatie EaryRichard NicollSiblingCommonJohn SmedleyJonathan SaundersTopman DesignCasely-Hayford
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The Gentleman Traveller

Home of the world’s richest tailoring traditions, with its pedigree Savile Row houses and heritage brands, London never fails to deliver when it comes to refinement.

This season’s LC:M did not disappoint, with the spirit of the erudite traveller an influential theme in a number of core collections.

Hackett’s polished show in the Freemason’s Hall evoked the age of the Grand European hotel, with models dressed in flannel and tweed travel suits representing the intrepid wanderers, explorers and photographers that inspired the collection. Retro cameras slung round necks, vintage suitcases, functional backpacks, woollen beanies and 1930s bellboys all reinforced the aura of the elegant traveller of yesteryear.

E.Tautz was also in on the act, showing Sherlock Holmes-inspired caped Ulster coats with structured Homburg hats, tipping a brim to the Victorian voyager.

Burberry Prorsum’s ‘Painterly Journey’ took the audience on a trip through the world of British artists, Ben Nicholson, Lucien Freud, Christopher Wood and Duncan Grant, referencing bohemian jaunts in foreign lands and iconic cities for its imaginative ready-to-wear line.

Silk scarves, reminiscent of the knick-knack printed squares acquired on tours of 1960s Europe, were accompanied by imagery of iconic world cities and Turkish kilim fabrics, which were used for statement accessories and knitwear:

The Traveller Trend on the AW14 LC:M Runways at Hackett, Burberry and E.Tautz

HackettHackettHackettE.TautzE.TautzE.TautzBurberry ProrsumBurberry ProrsumBurberry Prorsum
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Final Word

From the polish and poise of the sophisticated journeyman, to the nonchalant tongue-in-cheek of animal motifs, it’s clear that this season’s LC:M was an imaginative fusion of traditional heritage and contemporary flair, reinforcing London’s standing as a unique and innovative force in menswear design.

Tomorrow, in part two, we’ll be delving deeper into LC:M AW14, to paint a picture of what we’re likely to be wearing next time the mercury drops.