The hottest men's fashion on show at London Men's Collection 2015
Celebrity 'ambassadors' were out in force for men's fashion week in London, reflecting the event's runaway growth
In the three years since its debut, the fashion week London Collections: Men has grown by leaps and bounds. American buyers and press are up by 81 per cent, while there has been a staggering 185 per cent increase in their Chinese counterparts. Globally, there has been a 4.5 per cent yearly growth in the menswear market (US$662 billion) compared to 3.7 per cent in womenswear.
The growth is so strong that style organisers are upping the glam factor, bringing in Chinese actor Hu Bing as their first international ambassador, joining other "ambassadors" from London's music and modelling scene. Their biggest coup, however, is the dashingly stylish Formula One racing driver Lewis Hamilton, who, like Hu, had a wardrobe change for every show he attended. Hu managed two looks just for Chinese designer Sean Suen's show.
Last weekend 's show saw the debut of Stuart Vevers, whose second menswear collection for Coach included the "bum bag", which the show describes as a hip pack. Faced with the dilemma of how to showcase a colourful range of shoe-trainer hybrids, Sandra Choi at Jimmy Choo invited multiple world BMX champion Mark Webb and some skateboarders for a live action show to flaunt their sporty line. Meanwhile, the brand Hunter shrewdly chose this week, the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, to revamp its wellington boots and present the designs in the Duke of Wellington's former London home, alongside the Iron Duke's original pair.
Tom Ford, who is in pre-production for a film that begins shooting in September, decided at the 11th hour to stage a small menswear show at an exclusive party. The impromptu show revealed a renewed emphasis on sharp tailoring and, in particular, a waistcoat with a fob chain for your new Apple timepiece.
Henry Holland teamed up with cult photographer Martin Parr to showcase his laddish menswear line for House of Holland. "Clothes for pulling birds in," is how Holland describes the range of striped knits, quirky soccer tops and jeans with colour flashes. The collection is available at Galeries Lafayette in Beijing and Paris.
Tailored denim was one of the strongest trends in London with Agi & Sam, YMC, E. Tautz, Tommy Hilfiger (who presents in London) and Savile Row tailor Kilgour transforming the workman's fabric. J.W. Anderson artfully constructed loose-cut denim trousers with pleated fronts and deep turn-ups (another trend). This provided the framework for boxy tops with ticker tape prints and judo-style jackets.
There was also tailored denim at Alexander McQueen's show, alongside beautiful Victorian navy coats with medal or nautical tattoo embroidery and sea monster prints inspired by sailors' tales of the ocean.
Although Hu was keen to highlight what the young Chinese designers Sankuanz, Xander Zhou and Sean Suen were presenting in London, he declared his enthusiasm for the Dunhill collection. "I have seen a lot of change: from a classic and chic look to something that is now younger and more powerful," he says.
In the hands of tailor John Ray, Dunhill has been changing its tune. Yes, there were the top hats and morning coats, but also a youthful mix of casual checked shirts and loose retro pants with foppish bow ties and bomber jackets. Dunhill has a big market in Asia and their David Niven style of Britishness adds to the allure of the brand.
If Dunhill, Hardy Amies and Gieves & Hawkes represent the modern Savile Row man, then Craig Green, Astrid Andersson, Kit Neale and newcomer Grace Wales Bonner represent the grass-roots talent of British menswear. It highlights the polarities of London, as there is not a lot of menswear in between. Nevertheless, designers such as Craig Green are putting young British menswear on the world stage with an aesthetic that mixes uniforms with utilitarian design and an Eastern vibe. His judo-style jackets and tabards, all tied together with tapes, have clearly started a trend for trailing straps in menswear.
Green, like many other young designers, took a unisex approach by putting some of his designs on female models - although one buyer dubbed it "gender-effacing" rather than unisex.
Even Christopher Bailey borrowed from women's fashion, using crusty cotton lace as the foundation for his Burberry Prorsum collection, while presenting some complex lace structures from his women's resort wear as well. Lace shirts and ties were neatly tailored and worn with formal suiting, which didn't look as dandified as it suggests, with the exception of a stunning creamy trench coat in artisanal lace that is as "gender-effacing" as it gets. .