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Behind the collection – Laurel Wreath Menswear Autumn 2014

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Pictured above, the Static Cable Knit Sweater

For autumn 2014, our men’s Laurel Wreath Collection has a sharp, defined aesthetic.

We spoke to collection designer John Tate to find out the background behind the collection, which was inspired by British New Wave and electronic music of the 1980s.

Hello John, tell me a bit about the story behind the collection.

The thinking behind the collection was that it took inspiration from an imaginary night out, probably in London’s Soho district. There is a good mix of dark tones and pops of colour running throughout – reflecting the dark of the night, and the bright lights of the area. I feel there is a hedonistic undertone running through the collection. My thoughts were about going out, losing myself in the nightlife and trying to visualise how everything can start to get a bit blurry...

Yeah, details in the collection seem to reflect a night out?

I took direct influence from patterns and images you might see on a night out. One of the main thoughts behind the knitwear this season was the idea of visualising static, or white noise. The knitwear pieces feature a blurred or fuzzed effect, woven in – the sort of thing you might imagine on a monitor at a gig or in a DJ booth, with sound levels going up and down.  

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Pictured above, the Static Knit Crew Neck Sweater

Lots of the shirts feature a ‘blown-up gingham’ effect; moving the traditional micro-check gingham shirt to something a new and different. My thinking here was to reflect the ‘pixelated’ sensory effect you sometimes feel from being surrounded by bright lights and loud music. I also used a speaker-grill print throughout the collection. It looks a lot like a fine polka dot initially, but when the reference is mentioned you can see how the print has evolved from looking at the inside of a speaker. It’s subtle, but effective.

Was music an inspiration when designing this collection?

Definitely! I took particular inspiration from British post-punk/new wave electronic music of the 1980s – the sort of music you would imagine played at a dark club hidden away in Soho. Gary Numan and the Tubeway Army were probably the biggest influence overall, they have that real raw industrial sound to their music. But also the early side of the Human League, when they were more electronic than vocal. Soft Cell’s Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret album was also a big influence. That Soft Cell album is dark and hedonistic, it was a great reference point. 

You mentioned Gary Numan’s industrial sound…

Yeah, alongside the imaginary night out narrative behind the collection, I would say there is also an element in the collection taken from industrial Northern British towns – particularly Sheffield. The Human League originated in Sheffield, and had a very gritty, electronic early sound on tracks like Being Boiled. Soft Cell also originated in Leeds, before settling in Soho – their early single  Memorabilia is again quite a tough, industrial sounding track so there is certainly a Northern context woven in too.

Were you involved in the photoshoot that accompanies the collection?

Yes I was - I actually helped choose the model. He had an element of David Sylvian from the band Japan about him. Japan were probably best known for the track, Ghosts – another track from the scene that inspired the collection, and I liked the idea of weaving this further into the visual presentation.

John, thanks for your time!

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Pictured above the Industrial Dot Print Shirt

See the men’s Laurel Wreath Collection for Autumn HERE

In Focus: The Camouflage Waxed Bomber

Subverting a classic, the made in England tennis bomber is recontextualised this season, with a printed British DPM camouflage pattern and a Stewart tartan lining. Our sporting heritage combines with strong subcultural references, resulting in a unique interpretation of the iconic silhouette and an unexpected pairing of two decidedly British patterns.

Waxed Camouflage Jacket

Whilst tartans were historically worn to serve as a symbol of distinction, allowing the wearer to be recognised, British DPM (Disruptive Pattern Material) was designed to disguise, ensuring the wearer blended into the surroundings. Officially used by British forces as well as many other armies worldwide, particularly in former British colonies; the pattern made the ironic transition from military uniform to subculture uniform in a matter of decades.

Material Swatch - Waxed Camouflage Jacket

Camouflage rose to prominence during the 1960s as part of the counterculture appropriation of military surplus clothing. In stark contrast to its intended purpose, anti-war protestors took to adding peace signs and symbolic writings to their jackets. The rebellious links to the pattern continued to flourish during the late 1970s and 80s, particularly within anti-establishment punk and skinhead movements.

Pocket Detail - Waxed Camouflage Jacket

Although commonly associated with the 80s uniform of bleached jeans, braces and button up shirts, British DPM has continued to play a part in music-driven subcultures right up until today; be it the 90s Junglist kids, techno heads or 60s revivalists. A truly cultural phenomenon, in a reverse of its intended purpose, camouflage print has been used by generations not only to establish uniformity amongst each other, but to communicate individual ideas, values and beliefs.

Label Detail - Waxed Camouflage Jacket

Crafted in waxed British Millerain quality cloth, the camouflage bomber jacket has been produced in highly limited quantities and is available exclusively online and in Laurel Wreath Collection shops.

A 60 Second Guide To: Paisley

This season, an eye-catching miniature paisley pattern enlivens classic styles across the men’s Authentic collection. Originally used in Iranian and Indian design, the twisted tear drop pattern made its way to British shores by way of travelers and soldiers during the early 19th century. Men would return from foreign lands with patterned gifts, woven in rich silks and cashmere. 

Paisley Print Oxford Shirt

Paisley Print Oxford Shirt - click here to view

Noting the popularity of the exotic designs, British textile merchants were eager to reproduce the patterns closer to home. The town of Paisley in Scotland, which was famed for its textile manufacturing (and incidentally had been home to the Stewart family, after which Stewart tartan is named), became a key producer of the design which fittingly adopted the town’s name. In the early days paisley fabrics were intricately produced on weaving looms, however this timely system was soon dropped in favour of printing. The new speedy and cost effective production methods led many designers to use the distinctive tear drop design in their work and in turn cemented its place in British design.

Paisley Print Shirt

Paisley Print Shirt - click here to view.

The pattern was notably favoured by the mods during the 1960s and famously made its way onto the iconic Fender Telecaster guitar during the 1970s.

Modernised and simplified for spring 2013, the geometric pattern looks striking printed across the three button shirt and the woven Oxford style. The small scale two-colour teardrops create an almost polka dot effect when viewed from a distance, adding flashes of maroon and yellow to blue based fabrics. Elsewhere in the collection it brings a distinctive edge to both footwear and accessories.

The Spring 2013 men's Authentic Collection is available online and in Authentic shops now.