London men have never dressed so well – GQ’s Dylan Jones asks why modern man’s style is so strong and which new styles you should try.
Gieves & Hawkes
Menswear in London has never been more exciting, or more comprehensive, and there has never been so much of it. Men these days expect great clothes at every level, be that high street, mid-market, designer or bespoke, in London there is something for every man.
London is the home of menswear. We invented the suit, and in Savile Row we have the most important men’s shopping street in the world but we also have the very best in contemporary formal wear. The city is also full of haute streetwear, or what some have called ‘luxury lad wear’. This new look eschews tailoring and eccentricity and plays to the gallery on the street. Seriously, has the Londoner ever looked as good as he does today?
Gieves and Hawkes Map Room
The Urbane Lumberjack
In the digital agencies of Old Street, formerly the home of dishevelled creatives, you’ll now find a gentleman that magazine features desks insist on referring to as the ‘urbane lumberjack’. He hasn’t shed the hipster codes – note the beard and the hiking boots – but those hiking boots are upscale Red Wings, his beard is expensively oiled and he has dressed the whole thing up with a seriously loud windowpane-check woollen suit.
The Sloane Ranger
Or head down the King’s Road, from which the Sloane Ranger had seemingly not budged since Peter York first noticed him way back when (Chelsea is now like those parts of North America that are completely proscriptive in the way they expect men to dress – even the Russians and the French who move here are wearing yellow corduroy trousers and unironic Gucci loafers within two months of completion), and you’ll find the eminently sprezzier ‘nu-Sloane’ – and he’s swapped the deck shoes for a limited-edition pair of quilted Chuck Taylor Converse.
The Sports Luxe Lad
Even men who like to kick about in tracksuits and trainers are suddenly looking sharp. Not all of them, mind. Whereas a penchant for wearing sportswear outside the gym was once a social death sentence (custodial, no remand), you can now go to Soho House and feel positively out of touch if you’re not wearing ‘sports luxe’. Quick recap in case you’ve been living under cobblestones: this is the style popularised by the likes of Kanye West and comprises couture sneakers (high tops and excessive colours preferable), designer sweatpants (if they cost anything less than a week’s salary, they don’t actually count) and a smattering of more formal items.
In the same way that our cities are full of mingled architectural styles – Victorian warehouses, Georgian terraces, 20th-century suburban dwellings, 21st-century upended vitrines – they’re also full of extraordinarily varied street styles. Diverse as they may be, all these tribes have one thing in common: they spring primarily out of an interest in style rather than music. In many ways, high fashion is no longer a signifier of pop culture – in Britain it is pop culture.
Look at all those Instagram images of men showing off their sockless brogues or selvedge denim turn-ups. The #menswear tag may attract derision in some quarters but it captures a swell of popular interest in dressing well, and doing so for its own sake. Long may it last.