Chameleon Comfort

Even the most casual of men draws the line at turning up to the office in “dressy” sweatpants, with their sporty cuts and high price tags. Wearing sweats, even the fashionable kind, outside the gym or home environment makes one feel somewhat exposed—it’s a bit like wearing an undergarment in public.

But if athleisure itself is considered to be dubious, it’s definitely having a wider impact on style—one that could make dressing for work a little more inviting. Designers have heeded the call for comfort, recognizing the need to make men’s clothing, from suit jackets to office wear-ready trousers, more adaptable, breathable and wearable while ensuring that the design retains a degree of fashion gravitas.

BN-OE882_D99CB1_1000V_20160526122027.jpg

 

This new approach might be dubbed “covert comfort,” given that the comfortable aspects of the clothes are not immediately apparent. These easy pieces don’t resemble workout gear but have a kind of stealth coziness. Think formal silhouettes in plush textures that make you feel more like a tech mogul (minus the hoodie of course) than a corporate clone.

Good looking jackets and shirts imbued with performance attributes—thanks to sturdy stretch or fibers that wick away sweat—that don’t look out of place in the conference room and no one will know the secret to your unflappable demeanor.

Ornate Cufflinks Are In

In the world of men’s jewellery three signature items stand out: signet rings, watches and cufflinks.

Ornate vintage cufflinks from exclusive jewellers such as Bulgari, Buccelatti and Cartier are having a moment among the cognoscenti from Rome to LA.

Here is a selection we’ve found from Ebay, 1st Dibs and Ruby Lane. Of course you could go always go the whole hog and commission your own bespoke design.

1528703_s.jpg

1_main_4_org_s.jpg

1482823_s.jpg

Customize Your Swim Shorts

Orlebar Brown, the high end men’s swimwear brand,  is offering a  new “design your own” service where their trunks can be customized online by turning your favorite photos into luxury swimming shorts. Their SnapShort 2.0 app allows you to take your favorite Instagram photo and transform it onto your own Orlebar Brown trunks. It doesn’t need to be a photo of a beach scene; you could choose a drawing, a pattern of something you’ve discovered, even graffiti, or a family snap. Even a selfie if you fancy showing off your own mug on your own lap!

The new app is an updated version of SnapShort, that allowed monthly contest winners to design their own swimmies. Now anyone can do it, for a price. Depending on the size you select, the shorts start at $595.

-1x-1-1.jpg

 

New Men’s Knits From Inis Meáin

Inis Meáin is one of the Aran Islands that are strewn across the mouth of Galway Bay off the west coast of Ireland.

For centuries, the fishermen’s garments have been knitted by the women of the island. Knitting was just one of a number of skills that islanders had to learn and to master, to create a way of living in a very inhospitable place.

From this island, the Inis Meáin range is exported all over the world. All of their clothes bear the symbol of the upturned currach. The currach is the islanders’ fishing boat or canoe, made from tarred canvas stretched across a wooden frame. There is no natural protection from the Atlantic, so the fishermen must carry their craft up from the shore after every voyage.

Structured cardigans are proving to be a growing trend and Inis Meáin’s hand knits are excellent examples of the genre.

03.jpg

Their new styles are knitted in the finest yarns – Wool, Cashmere, Baby Alpaca, Linen, Silk etc. sourced from the finest mills in Europe and South America. Subtle colours, inspired by land and sea, which reflect the landscape and seasons.

3288591b-d492-4da1-a63d-ffa7a9f2792f_three_eighty.jpg

The Atelier Approach

Paraffection S.A. is the subsidiary of Chanel that was established in 1997 to preserve the heritage, craft and manufacturing skills of a group of highly skilled fashion artisans working in specialist ateliers located mainly in the Paris region.

By 2015, Paraffection had acquired twelve “Atelier d’Art” or workshops capable of providing the parent company Chanel with the specialized skills required to decorate and embellish its haute couture creations.

“The driving force behind our decision to take over these companies was affection,” insists Paraffection director Dominique Barbiery. Cleverly, the Paraffection investments have been marketed as a labor of love.

‘Paraffection’ loosely translates to mean ‘for the love of”. Mr Barbiery states that Chanel’s relationship with its satellite firms is to “protect, advise and assist” the firms, not gobble them up, merge them or take over their work.

This year Chanel will celebrate its 13th Métiers d’Art show an annual event to honor the fine craftsmanship that its artisan partners in the Paraffection group bring to the house’s collections. With a runway show that takes place outside the traditional fashion schedule, each year, Chanel turns to a different location to pay tribute to the workshops that provide the house with everything from lace to silver buttons and fine embroidery work. After Salzburg last year, Dallas in 2013, Edinburgh in 2012 and previous shows in Mumbai and New York, Chanel headed to Rome for last season’s Métiers d’Art 2015, in the city’s Cinecittà film complex.

Chanel is not the only institution safeguarding French fashion. When, in 2012, the French lingerie manufacturer Lejaby announced plans to outsource production to Tunisia, then president Nicolas Sarkozy pledged to seek a solution. Lejaby was bought out by a French leather goods manufacturer that supplies Louis Vuitton, in a move overseen by Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH, and close friend of Sarkozy, who called the takeover part of “the battle for employment in France”.

Within the leather goods industry companies such as Hermès continue the tradition of artisan production at their atelier in Pantin near Paris where the prevailing sentiment is that of everlasting love: each bag is affectionately crafted by a single artisan from start to finish, which would explain why they only turn out two pieces a week. No leather-worker is allowed to intervene in another colleague’s bag and each individual has their own set of tools, which they eventually take home with them when they retire.

st_0928_Hermes01.jpg

Similarly Bianca Mosca, known for it’s ultra luxury exotic and precious leather bags and accessories, is a close adherent of the atelier approach.

Visiting their fragrant workshops in Italy and France is a real sensory experience. Your eyes, your nose, you ears; they’re all part of a luxurious journey. First, it’s the tap-tap-tapping sound that rhythmically follows your every step, a sign of industrious hands at work. Then it’s the smell of the leather, from the simplest and supplest Taurillon leather to rare finds like Louisiana alligator in a rainbow of colors, all sourced by Bianca Mosca’s experienced leather-hunters.

What is clear is that making luxurious objects in the ancient traditions espoused by the true ateliers of France and Italy takes time-a lot of time.

“The end result is worth it” says Tim de Rosen of Bianca Mosca.

The Quintessential Hoodie

Despite advancing age I am always seeking ways of staying in touch with my youth. One such recent search was a quest to find the perfect cashmere hoodie in a grey hue.

Sounds like a relatively simple demand but a trawl through the usual suspects (Hermès, Cucinelli et al) revealed little or nothing of interest.

About to give up in frustration my final thought was to take a peek at the offerings on the N Peal website. Much to my delight I found exactly what I was searching for. As a delightful added bonus N Peal is currently offering £60 off the original price as part of their seasonal reductions.

5613e9c94d74c70003000dd9.jpeg

The hoodie looks fabulous with a classic white T Shirt and jeans or could be used equally well after a session at the gym. Crafted from 100% Mongolian cashmere it’s soft to the touch and certainly one of the most luxurious hoodies I’m likely to own.

Time To Tone Up

Already the end of January beckons and the New Year resolve is weakening. What to do? Reboot and get myself some shiny new kit to exercise with.

If you’re looking for some really stylish (and yes quite expensive) exercise equipment to use at home take a look at the fitness products from Germany’s Hock Design.

Beautifully conceived and immaculately executed Hock uses only certified and sustainably grown wood, 303 grade non reactive stainless steel and Italian vegetable tanned leathers to create their dumbbells, hand weights, extenders, ropes and push up bars.

robusto-hanteln-holz.jpg

They have wonderful names such as Robusto, Ropa and Pector and are gorgeous to look at and lust over.

The company was started in 2009 by designer Kristof Hock. Since then sales have quadrupled as the company has spread the word. Check ’em out.

hockdesign.com