Boring is not a word in the vocabulary of Vetements’ designers. The brand, now three seasons old, specialises in unremarkable clothes – the five-pocket jean, the hoodie, the bomber – but transformed into something new and unusual. “We give existing pieces new life,” says designer Demna Gvasalia, 34.
Vetements picked up nearly 30 stockists in its first season and in March celebrities including Jared Leto and Kanye West traipsed to a gay sex club in Paris for its autumn presentation. The clothes – a mix of industrial colours, exaggerated sportswear, grungy dresses and oversized macs – were pieces we wear all the time, but twisted to be just weird enough, and newly cool.
The label functions as a collective, a team of 13 including seven designers, many of whom, like Gvasalia, have worked at Maison Martin Margiela, which has a similar aesthetic. “Comme des Garçons, Margiela and Helmut Lang added minimalism and deconstruction to the fashion vocabulary,” he says. “We put those ideas on a modern frame.” While “there’s an aesthetic we like, we want to make something real people will wear”. Inspiration comes from “what young people are wearing on the streets of Paris. It’s about now and today.”
Next up is menswear: “We want to go beyond fashion boys and make clothes for normal dudes.” Sounds like an admirable – and totally unboring – ambition to us. Available at matchesfashion.com
The rise of scruffy hair
At the Topshop Unique show in London, the biggest takeaway wasn’t the nice chunky knits or the potential return of the high-waisted leather trouser. It was the hair. Or, rather, the undone hair. In the place of last season’s knotty ponytail trickery (see Dior spring/summer 2015), this season’s shows gave us loads of straggly hair. The sort of unkempt look you get if you’re caught in the rain or have spent one day too many at a festival.
At Gucci, Topshop Unique, Burberry and Ralph Lauren, there were tangled locks. The natural afro appeared on the catwalk at Prada, Louis Vuitton and Céline, without a hint of extensions, relaxants or straighteners. And at Roland Mouret and Chloé there was the sort of long, uncoloured, untouched hair that reminded us of being 10 years old.
This is hardly the stuff of high fashion dreams, but the natural look grows on you. It takes confidence to just wash and go. Those scruffy curls, especially combined with fresh pink cheeks, just make us think of great drizzly walks in the countryside. And, without the need to buy hair products, you can spend the cash on clothes instead. Fashion does do us a favour sometimes.
Bags of style at Shinola
This autumn, Shinola adds men’s bags to its delectable range of watches, bicycles and leather goods, all built in America. The range includes cycling bags, totes, briefcases and duffels which come not only in the expected black and tan, but also in bold orange and Aegean blue. Leather at its best. shinola.com
“We don’t necessarily want the clothes to scream ‘vintage’. For us it’s a building tool.” So say Alonzo Ester and Alex Carapetian, designers at emerging menswear label Longjourney. The pair set up in Los Angeles in 2012 and their signature style is creating modern clothes out of repurposed fabric and old garments – think bomber jackets, sweatshirts and duvet coats in tough, ragged patchwork. The materials are mainly locally sourced and the clothes are then completed by local craftsmen for a really unique finish. The duo are proud that no two pieces are ever the same. This season, inspiration came from the concept of “veiling” and “the wrapping of everyday objects – having the familiar morph into something surprising”. available at matchesfashion.com
It’s shiny, it’s sexy, it’s PVC
Fashion loves to play with fetishwear, but the fact that polyvinyl chloride is back for autumn is still a guaranteed eyebrow raiser. See Christian Dior, where it was delicately latticed on trenchcoats worn with thigh-high rubber boots worthy of a high-class dominatrix. British designer Ashley Williams, who used the fabric on dresses and coats with faux fur, bubblegum-pink collars, is destined to get a lot of play on street style blogs where the magpie-like thrill of shine is always going to rule. Maison Margiela, meanwhile, looked more Matrix than dominatrix, with floor-length jet-black coats. Sex, or at least sex shop chic, is definitely back on the fashion designers’ menus for winter. PVC is shiny, sexy and – bonus! – wipe clean. Wear it to work if you dare.
Are you in the Cottweiler cult?
Founded by Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty in 2012, Cottweiler has become the secret favourite of London men who want their streetwear to look just a little avant garde. Dainty describes their aesthetic as “responding instinctively to what is relevant now and what we are surrounded by”. For autumn, that means very basic tracksuits and padding reminiscent of protective fencing gear. These are clothes that speak of the duo’s background. Both studied at Bristol but went on to work at Umbro and Head, on Savile Row and with Kim Jones. They had NewGen sponsorship for the first time for spring/summer 2016, resulting in a much-liked (on Instagram or otherwise) presentation at London Collections Men. This is a chance, Dainty says, to “bring us to a wider audience”. Those men already in the Cottweiler cult might not thank them for it, but this is a brand about to go overground. Buy now and make out you’ve known about it for ages.cottweiler.com
140 years of Liberty
Before Arthur Lasenby Liberty opened his shop in the early 1870s, he declared it would change the look of dress and decoration. Turns out this was no idle brag. When Liberty & Co opened on Regent Street in 1875, it was an instant hit. Liberty’s influence has endured like few others. Not only were Oscar Wilde and Rossetti fans, but the signature prints became such international hits that art nouveau is actually known as stile Liberty in Italy. They became a major fashion influence in the 1960s and 70s for designers such as Mary Quant and Jean Muir. Since then, everyone from Vivienne Westwood and Yves Saint Laurent to Junya Watanabe has done a bit of Liberty. To celebrate 140 years of beautiful florals and art nouveau patterns, the Fashion and Textile Museum is holding a major exhibition. Go along, pick out a favourite.
Happy birthday, Raf Simons
Raf Simons’ eponymous menswear label turns 20 this year, and we couldn’t let the anniversary pass without celebrating his many achievements in fashion. Like spearheading the skinny-suited look, or pioneering the use of hi-tech fabrics to elevate sportswear, or shifting ideals of male beauty by street-casting idiosyncratic-looking young models. Even the Belgian designer’s own quiet style – the navy blue jumper with clerical white collar – is influential, replicated in the wardrobes of fashion fans the world over. That’s not even mentioning his punk sensibilities, reputation for kindness, nor his agenda-setting work with Jil Sander or Dior. Don’t you love it when nice guys finish first? rafsimons.com
This season brings Coach’s first full menswear collection, and a lovely range of big cat and abstract prints on bowling shirts and parkas it is, too. Selfridges will stock the full Coach shebang – men’s, women’s and accessories – from this month. Pop in and have a drool. coach.com or selfridges.com
Autumn read: Fantastic Man
Did you know that architect Rem Koolhaas likes to memorise phone numbers rather than putting them in his mobile? Or that actor Christoph Waltz rates a car on how good the dashboard buttons feel when he presses them? If you read biannual style magazine Fantastic Man, this is the sort of delightful minutiae you’ll have at your fingertips. The magazine, conceived by Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year with a compendium of some of its best shoots and interviews. As well as lovely insights into the lives of men such as Hamish Bowles, Wolfgang Tillmans, Helmut Lang and Claude Montana, this tome also contains the work of photographers such as Alasdair McLellan, Bruce Weber and Juergen Teller.
In her foreword, photographer Inez van Lamsweerde says that Fantastic Man has “created a new understanding of glamour”. Looking at the elegant images and thoughtful interviews contained in this book, it’s hard to disagree.
Fantastic Man: 70 Men of Great Style and Substance, edited by Emily King, is published on 26 October at £29.95; uk.phaidon.com
MAC’s canine cosmetics
This season, MAC has created a range inspired by dogs. This eyeshadow is Haute Dogs; lipstick shades include Rare Breed, Barking Gorgeous and Labradorable. This is not, we promise, a shaggy dog story. maccosmetics.co.uk
MaxMara meets Marilyn
Remember the windswept shots of Marilyn Monroe on a Santa Monica beach in 1962, hugging a chunky cardigan to her body for warmth? Well, now we can all have a Marilyn moment, with MaxMara’s cosy version of that iconic knit.