London Collections: MEN SS14

Sunday 16th of July saw the opening of the eagerly anticipated London Collections: MEN SS14, and it was everything we had hoped for and more. A unique assembly of the hottest contemporary design talent showcased alongside established menswear labels with decades of sartorial pedigree; it was the biggest menswear show in the British capital to date.

But what did we learn from this three-day, Nyetimber-soaked spectacular? What trends, colours and moods are set to govern our wardrobe selections next summer?

If you’re keen to get ahead of the game and introduce a little SS14 into your SS13 closet, read on for our guide to the key menswear themes that emerged from this round of London Collections: MEN (LC:M).

1. Oranges and Lemons

Men have embraced colour in recent summer seasons like never before, making it particularly apt that high-octane shades of canary yellow and orange dominated the collections shown at LC:M. From Jonathan Saunders to Agi & Sam, highlighter hues made their presence felt in the form of both tailoring and separates.

Patrick Grant’s E. Tautz displayed a penchant for burnt orange hues, showing an array of knits, sweatshirts and shorts in the eye-catching tone. Shaun Samson brought flashes of tangerine to his collection in the form of shirting, high-gloss shorts and graphic print sweatshirts. Katie Eary’s fondness for orange was distinctly evident, with the hue dominating the collection in the form of oversized statement animal prints and graduating shades:

Canary yellow was the standout tone from Jonathan Saunders’ dynamic collection, whilst mustard and sunshine hues made their mark at Oliver Spencer, Burberry and C.P. Company:

2. Fast-Forward To Futurism

With London the focus for up-and-coming contemporary design talent, it seemed appropriate that LC:M designers looked to the future for SS14.

Kay Kwok’s asymmetric minimalist collection featured leather and neoprene open-sided tops, sleek structured box bags and cut-out sandals that wouldn’t look out of place on the feet of Greek God Hermes, should he find himself reincarnated in 2080:

Agi & Sam’s fabrics, sporting pixelated textured dots and multi-tone tightly embroidered weaves, were inspired by the seat upholstery fabrics of various forms of London transport, giving an all too familiar feeling of fashion déjà vu – you knew you’d seen that pattern somewhere, but where?

Delivered in a superbly modernist fashion, the pairing of these unique patterns with bold/pastel shades and modern cuts was strongly reminiscent of the digital age; if anything it certainly put a delectable spin on taking the 149 to Stoke Newington:

With its sleek, clean-cut lines and noticeable absence of buttons, trims and embellishments, Lee Roach’s offering had an undeniably futuristic feel, sporting ultra lightweight technical cottons in contrasting black and stone, collarless constructions, water-repellent treatments and functional strap fastenings.

The only form of pattern was an overblown brown and neutral tone camouflage motif that resembled a kind of hybrid half-animal, half-military abstract giraffe print:

3. Lost Youth

The spirit of youth was apparent throughout many of the contemporary labels, with MAN’s Bobby Abley sending models down the runway with his signature teddy bears strapped to backpacks and garments featuring child like animal prints. This declaration of innocence was playfully complemented by the presence of leather pastel tone crowns and fleur-de-lis patterns that brought a witty air of pseudo-monarchy to the collection.

Inspired by tales from medieval folklore, the collection referenced the Knights of the Round Table, the legend of the Sword in the Stone, and princes and paupers as sources of inspiration, and was delivered with the designer’s typically playful and humorous style:

Matthew Miller and Katie Eary drew upon skate culture in their energetic collections, lending a rebellious edge to proceedings. Whilst we’re sure most men won’t be scrambling to don a faux candy-pink crown anytime soon, we can all easily work a little youthful vigour into our wardrobes with a playful print:

4. Pastels & Powder

Soft pastels and powder tones in shades of pink, blue, green and orange ran throughout collections, injecting an appropriately fresh and light feel to summer dressing.

Christopher Raeburn turned his signature military-inspired styling on its head, crafting parka jackets from powder pink technical fabrics, whilst Richard Nicoll’s fondness for blue prevailed with his sky-hued tailoring and separates.

Traditionalists Hackett worked pastel tones into their collection in the form of elegant roll neck knits and tailoring whilst Mr. Hare strode ahead on the footwear front with pastel orange espadrilles and eau-de-nil green trainers:

5. Urban Sports luxe

Certainly not a new theme for menswear, but one that continues to gather momentum with each season; the formalisation of sportswear, or the dressing down of formal wear, has become an integral part of many contemporary and traditional designer’s aesthetics.

Astrid Anderson was a key advocate of the trend, showing an athletic-inspired collection featuring contrast fabric combinations of super-luxe nylons paired with mink and high-performance technical constructions.

British mainstay John Smedley, on the other hand, chose the occasion to launch their new sportswear line.

Nasir Mahzar’s offering evoked the feel of a futurist boxer. Infused with an unashamedly street-ready character, the collection had an authoritative urban presence and the use of metallic detailing and contrasting textures lent a dynamic edge to the assemblage:

6. Old School Polish

For the more traditional brands, retro and vintage eras were a key source of inspiration.

Hackett’s superbly dapper collection was inspired by the work of celebrated 1960s photographer, Terry O’Neill. Staged in the city’s Old Billingsgate Fishmarket, models walked down the central hall of the Victorian-era trading floor to the dramatic strains of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, with the musicians themselves immaculately clad in white tie and tails.

Ever-rising formal wear label Rake delivered their SS14 collection with typically roguish panache at their newly opened home in Mayfair. Inspired by the style and decadence of Formula 1 drivers of yesteryear, the collection showcased the brand’s penchant for 1970s-inspired insouciance.

In a less than traditional setting, the renowned Savile Row house of Hardy Amies exhibited its creations at the high-altitude setting of the Gherkin building – it was a masterful array of traditional elegance brought bang up-to-date:

The Gieves & Hawkes and Savile Row & St. James’s presentations were the epitome of old school refinement, with their offerings of canvas safari jackets, Gastby-esque tailoring and cricket knits evoking the elegant refinement of British colonists in foreign lands.

Lord’s cricket pavilion was the gentlemanly setting of the Savile Row & St. James’s event; it was the perfect backdrop to celebrate the finest names in British tailoring heritage:

7. Camo Continued

The presence of the armed forces was evident again this season, with designers re-working the camouflage print that has been a central element in men’s wardrobes for a number of seasons now.

Reinvented in overblown, abstract forms and innovative colour combinations, labels from Lee Roach to military-print master Christopher Raeburn proved that army style will continue to keep us in line next summer:

8. All That Glitters

Metallics and glossy treatments, already a feature of current SS13 collections, were reinterpreted and used as embellishments in multiple collections.

Nasir Mazar included silver trimmed backpacks and sequin detailed separates, Shaun Samson showed metallic topped trousers, hats and iridescent-pinstripe shorts, and master colourist Jonathan Saunders applied high-shine treatments to his boldly printed fabrics:

9. Perforated Perfection

Mesh, lace and sheer fabrics were a strong feature throughout many collections.

Astrid Anderson gave a masculine edge to traditionally feminine lace by pairing needlepoint-netting tops with urban sportswear; Alan Taylor at MAN integrated perforated panelled overlays into his tailoring, exploring the designer’s avant-garde ‘4th Dimension’ theme; and Christopher Raeburn worked the trend into his designs by using contrast mesh-sleeves.

Shaun Samson’s masculine urban aesthetic was juxtaposed by the use of fine, sheer materials in tops and jackets, whilst Richard Nicoll’s and Joseph Turvey’s collections also sported an array of perforated materials and inserts, reinforcing the trend for SS14:

10. Cowboys Without Indians

Hentsch Man’s novel presentation in Covent Garden’s dishevelled-cool Langley Street garage exhibited a playfully masculine array of western-check shirting and plaid trousers, topped with statement-making Stetson hats. The collection was presented on a platform adorned with a graffiti wall, bull skulls and cacti that looked as though they had just been plucked from the Nevada desert.

Topman Design’s collection, entitled ‘Techno Cowboy’, gave the traditional herdsman uniform a luxe edge by sending their models down the catwalk in a sequence of embroidered and embellished silk western shirts, lending an über-masculine style a softer edge:

Final Word

Filled with all the drama and ingenious creativity we anticipate from the British capital, this season’s London Collections: MEN was a continual sequence of sartorial excellence. There was a certain unity across many of the collections that brought a feeling of cohesiveness to the shows, which is a signature feature of London’s creative energy; it is this that defines the city’s unique position as a world centre of design prowess.

Whilst many of the looks outlined above may be a little too outlandish for the everyday male, we can no doubt expect the themes exhibited to translate into more commercial forms over the next twelve months. But where would we be without such dynamic events to showcase the very avant-garde expressionism that fuels the industry? After all, fashion is meant to inspire, is it not?