Mayor Boris Johnson celebrates London’s fashion heritage

By | Art & Design
Mayor of London Boris Johnson celebrates the history and heritage of British menswear at London Collections: Men SS14. Courtesy George Garnier

London has become synonymous with the notion of a true gentleman dress. It lead the way for dapper attire since the early 1500s. Britain’s influence in men’s fashion is endless. The three piece suit, the bowler hat and the trench coat have all placed Britain on the map as the founding father of menswear.

The three piece suit emerged in the 16th century when King Charles II wanted to refine the Englishman’s dress. Wanting to deviate from the frills and ostentatious outfits popular at the time, King Charles established a classic, simple wardrobe which put emphasis on structured, tailored cuts. This resulted in the construction of the three piece suit. Later Beau Brummell, a well-known figure in men’s fashion, redefined and further popularized the three piece suit as a must have item in every man’s repertoire.

The Bowler hat was created in 1849 for the 2nd Earl of Leicester. Thomas and William Bowler who designed the headpiece for Lock & Co of St. James intended for it to be used as protection from branches while gamekeepers were riding. The bowler hat became a staple in businessmen’s wardrobes in the early 1900s and was known as a less formal hat that the everyday man could wear.

The trench coat was designed for British soldiers during the First World War. Proposed to the military office by Thomas Burberry, soldiers wore the lightweight coats while on the battlefield and thus brought the trench to the attention of the world.

A study by the V&A puts factual support to Britain’s claim to the menswear throne. The study which was commissioned by the British Fashion Council dates back to 1528 and chronicles the importance of the UK’s influence on men’s fashion. The study was showcased during London’s Collection: Men which began last Sunday. It chronicled the history of menswear in the UK and the significant role it has played in this genre of fashion.

Today Britain continues to reassert itself as the capital of menswear with London’s Collection: Men, which hosted 134 designers’ SS14 collections.  Nicole Farhi, Tom Ford, Rag & Bone and Hardy Amies are a few of the big names that headlined the three day event.  In its third year, LC: M has grown larger and stands as the biggest fashion event for men.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who hosted the celebration of London’s influence on menswear  said, “With London Collections: Men going from strength to strength, this fascinating insight into the history of menswear is a timely reminder of why our city is the capital for men’s clothing. Our illustrious heritage is accompanied by craftsmanship, innovation, plus a canny eye on the modern that ensures our designers remain at the forefront of fashion.”


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