From Beau Brummell to Leigh Bowery, the capital has long been an epicentre of the best and boldest in men’s style. Alongside an international reputation as the standard bearer for exceptional Savile Row suiting, the city has also been a bubbling hub of renegade creative talent. From the street styling of the East End (the likes of which acted as sartorial touchpaper for Kim Jones, now the head of Louis Vuitton menswear) to the assured nature of our best outerwear – see Hunter, Belstaff and Burberry’s iconic trench coat – a whole host of items that the average man, from Kyoto to Kettering, might throw on on any given day have come from the Petri dish of London fashion (see also a recently published book , London Sartorial: Men’s Style from the Street to Bespoke by GQ editor Dylan Jones).
That wildly disparate range of styles was celebrated to grand effect this month with the fifth anniversary of London Fashion Week Men’s Collections. It’s a benchmark in a showcase that can veer from cross-dressing madcap theatrics on Brick Lane to handsome tweeds and heritage brogues on Jermyn Street, and a host of slick suiting, dynamic sportswear and bells-and-whistles showmanship in between.
And off the catwalks proper, another curious style of catwalk has evolved outside the shows themselves, with the pavement transformed into a veritable Mario Testino set as the well-heeled and weird-and-wonderfully attired alike jostle for space in front of the cameras (a tried-and-tested trick –check your phone and look nonchalant to keep your host of Mr DeMilles lens-ready). Luckily, London Fashion Week’s most photographed male ambassadors – the movers, shakers, suit wearers and standard bearers that frequent the fashion shows and don the city’s sharpest threads – have some insight into how to look the part. These are men in the know. And, like all the best pros, they’ve also perfected the art of looking together after falling into bed at 3am. Here they reveal what makes London style tick, and how to dress whatever the situation:
Get your fit just so, says David Gandy, model
“The cut and fit of your tailoring is essential. A lot of men just don’t know the cut that suits them, the right cuff length, how long the jacket should be. Many guys don’t even know their suit size. Always make sure it fits you correctly, and speak to a proper tailor. One thing that London Fashion Week Men’s can show you is just how powerful British style is, from great outerwear to the best suits. And my tip for looking sharp after a late night? Sunglasses, dark ones.”
Find one staple and stick with it, says Eric Underwood, ballet dancer
“I have a pair of Burberry leather lace-up evening shoes – they are a real fail-safe. They are timeless and work well with everything. I need clothes that work easily with my schedule too – I fit in going to shows in between rehearsals, so I’ve perfected the art of the quick change in the back of a car. In terms of favourite brands, I love Lou Dalton’s clothes – she incorporates colour and vitality into them.”
Add a touch of individuality, says filmmaker David Furnish
“I’m a magpie, I love something that’s well made, I love attention to detail. It’s wonderful to find something that comes with history and expertise. So while I might opt for suiting, I like to freshen things up with something quirky and personal that adds a bit of character, like a pin or a pocket square or something. I think you should get the building blocks right and then build on that to add a bit of flair. My other tip is that your suit doesn’t have to be expensive, you should buy what you can afford and then take it to a tailor who can mould it to your shape.”
Enjoy playing dress-up, says Oliver Cheshire, model
“Don’t just wear the same boring thing every day. It’s easy to put on a pair of chinos and a polo shirt, but try something different. Fashion is for having fun with. Too many guys can be scared of it. You can be a different person in a different outfit; a rock star, a city boy, a biker. A suit can literally change the way you stand; it pulls your shoulders back, makes you stand straight. I like a relaxed suit with trainers – it’s easy to swap into an evening outfit if you wear suit trousers all day, maybe with a T-shirt and bomber jacket, then slip on a jacket and shirt for evening. And a freezing cold shower tightens up your skin when you’re feeling less than fresh.”