In November of 2012 I visited London for two weeks. Many things struck me about this world-class city, the fashion – in particular men’s fashion – was of particular note.
On my first trip to Europe in the fall of 2010 I was exposed to the superior standard of personal style in which Europeans hold themselves. I had a crash course in proper attire from my good friends in The Netherlands, as well as the chance to observe the Spaniards, French, and Italians in their native habitat.
Each European country, region, and city has its own signature style. This style is reflective in many ways, as is around the world, of the local culture. The expressiveness of the people through fashion says something about that particular place.
The Germans are conservative and well put together. Think Hugo Boss.
The French have the joie de vivre. Think Yves St Laurent.
The Italians have flair. Think Gucci.
Then there’s the British.
The British style mixes their dry sense of humour, conservative yet laissez-faire social values, with the pragmatism of battling constant rain. This combination has turned London into what I consider the men’s fashion capital of the world. Think Ben Sherman, Penguin, and Burberry.
What sets the London fashion scene apart from the other giants is its diversity; a guy in thrift store purchased Oliver Twist overalls on the Tube next to an i-banker in a £1500 hand tailored suit. The fact that both fit in so well to the social fabric of London is a testament to the city’s comfort in its own skin.
And this comfort in its own skin is what makes London’s men’s fashion flourish.
The men of London are willing to take chances, and push their own personal fashion to the next level. And when London’s men push their fashion forward, the world takes note.
As they should.
London is a world capital, and a leader on many fronts. For centuries London has been where the world looks for direction. The long arm of the British Empire took British culture and influence around the globe.
Although the United States has now taken over the globe’s focus for entertainment and innovation, American fashion in the general populace has not followed the same trajectory. The USA has produced some of the world’s top designers, however the influence of these talented designers has not trickled down. Even in the world’s most important city, New York, the fashion is hit or miss. Think sneakers and $25 jeans.
Apparently when the Americans dumped tea into the Boston harbour, they also dumped the shipment of fantastic tweed. I guess the ‘Boston Tweed Party’ didn’t have quite the same ring to it.
This leaves the world of men’s fashion looking back to their trusted source: the streets of London.
These same streets are packed with people from around the world; each culture bringing its own influence into London’s fashion mosaic. London’s embracing of cultural diversity has allowed its fashion to evolve in ways that less ethnically diverse capitals lack.
It is this mixture of old and new, homegrown and international, pragmatic and envelope-pushing that elevates London to the top of the proverbial men’s fashion podium.
London is used to being at the top. They hold the gauntlet well, and I am ready to pledge allegiance to their throne.
Now where can I get myself some tweed?