At Yellowdoor, the PR company set up by ‘Queen of Shops’ Mary Portas, heritage brands sit side-by-side with contemporary designers. In their interior woodland showroom shoes sit atop coarse logs, jewellery lies on moss beds like a crystallized fungus and clothing rails are dotted around the room like skeletal tent poles; the perfect environment to explore the A/W offerings.
Collection previews are always a great opportunity to see some of the less run-of-the-mill designs that labels have put together ahead of their in-store releases. Inevitably, a few of the individualist gems will get passed over by buyers and will see a much smaller success then the commercial hits.
The preview evening gave me a chance to see the pick of the approaching seasons crop, with some unexpected highlights.
Clarks have been a British institution since they first revolutionized footwear production in 1825. For A/W, Clarks continue to introduce modern, entertaining designs, whilst retaining quality and function: two factors that are extremely high on the company’s agenda. Always a fan of the brogue, my eye was caught by the Fall Hard GTX wing tip, on show in walnut suede. Smart, and with Gore-Tex weatherproofing, this will be a great shoe for autumn, when frequent rain tends to ruin even the most waterproofed of shoes. The Mead Wells eye-catching red sole is a great option for windy weekends and when Winter hits, with or without London halting snow, the Motive Pole and Russett boots will offer a more durable option for rugged pursuits.
It’s no surprise that Acne’s A/W collection was one of the highlights of the preview, with an eclectic mixture of suiting options on offer next to stand-alone pieces and the brands infamous denim selection. The Long Coat, that Acne puts particular emphasis on, was an imaginative range, offering ankle length overcoats in a variety of enveloping styles. Perfect for when the mercury begins to plummet. The collegiate inspired sweatshirts offer an individual slant on campus branding, combining throw-on styling with abstract geographical referencing. A small range of accessories, such as leather laptop cases and neon edged wallets, complete the collections chic minimalist offerings. Acne’s high-quality, unique designs will work well with any existing wardrobe looking for a new investment.
When reviewing new menswear collections, Matalan is a brand that is often overlooked. However it seems that their star is on the rise and the A/W collection has some offerings that easily rival those of more popular heritage brands. Their contrast colour waterproof jacket has the perfect pockets for anyone who leaves the house with more then just a wallet, and easily has room for a paperback, notepad and camera. Similarly, the fleece-lined duffel jacket offers the same storage space with an additional zip pocket on the chest. Your oyster card will never get lost again. A smart range of tweed blazers, some with zip in fleece lapels, offer a less outdoorsy option for those wanting to tone the explorer look down.
Having ably produced unique bags for women for over a decade, British brand Radley will soon be launching a concise range of items for the male market. Manufactured from the same high quality materials and with the same attention to detail as their women’s lines, the range features a number of messenger bags, iPad covers and wallets. The stand out piece in the collection however, is Radley’s weekend holdall, complete with a designated luggage label in contrasting leather. Perfect for weekend breaks, or even a lightly packed week, the holdall offers the packing space every man needs, complete with classic styling and quality construction, at a reasonable price.