Four brands that are redefining buttoned-up British style

Clothing and accessories combining classic elements with a contemporary aesthetic for a look that is elegantly laid-back.

By Jill Newman 15/02/2017

Men are embracing a more relaxed mode of dress, and these four British brands are following suit. Clothing and accessories from their latest collections combine classic elements with a contemporary aesthetic for a look that is elegantly laid-back.

Thom Sweeney

Just because men are dressing more casually doesn’t mean there’s less need for impeccably tailored clothing, according to Luke Sweeney, who with partner Thom Whiddett established the London tailoring house Thom Sweeney (thomsweeney.co.uk) a decade ago. “One of our biggest clients orders multiple blazers and trousers every year; I don’t even remember the last time he ordered a suit,” says Sweeney.

The Savile Row–trained 37-year-old was in New York last fall for the launch of the brand’s ready-to-wear collection at the Bergdorf Goodman men’s store, where he offered advice on how to portray a more relaxed look with suiting elements: “If you are breaking up suits, you should have a double-breasted, soft-shouldered blazer that lends itself to a more casual look.” He also suggests looking for suits and separates in textured fabrics, like flannel or linen, that look smart when layered with knitwear or a turtleneck.

Though Sweeney represents a new generation of tailors offering new ways to wear handmade clothing, he understands that the traditional suit remains standard attire for some. For that reason, he says, he and Whiddett travel to New York every six weeks to meet with clients and help them select fabrics and silhouettes for bespoke or made-to-measure garments.

Cutler and Gross Vintage

A new Cutler and Gross Vintage boutique (cutlerandgross.com) opened in London’s chic Marylebone neighborhood in November with a selection of the brand’s original frames. Handmade in Italy between 1981 and 1999 and never worn, this curated collection from the company’s archives was handpicked for the shop’s debut because of its timely styles that speak to today’s aesthetic.The assortment, priced from $US480-$500 (about $A625-650), includes the 0431 style that the Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis originally inspired with his signature frames — a look the company says is in high demand.

Grenson

Even the classic wing-tip brogue gets a contemporary makeover in the hands of Tim Little, the creative director and owner of Grenson (grenson.com). The venerable brand has been handcrafting shoes in Northamptonshire since 1866, and Little’s version of the classic wing tip has a slightly upturned and rounded toe, is superlight and flexible, and is available with a white wedge sole. “Younger men don’t want the stiff, heavy English shoes of the past; they are used to wearing lightweight, flexible sneakers,” he says. “Today people are wearing a tailored jacket with jeans and a pair of brogues, and these younger guys want to understand how it is made and where it comes from.” To that end, in March Grenson will begin offering half-day tours of its workshop, where footwear aficionados will be able to see first-hand the heritage of the brand and speak with the makers.

Orlebar Brown

The London-based brand Orlebar Brown (orlebarbrown.com), known for men’s swimwear tailored like well-made trousers, recently enlisted Gerry McGovern, chief design officer of Land Rover, to create a capsule collection for spring. A devoted fan of the brand, the car executive has imparted his passion for modern art to Orlebar Brown’s classic Bulldog shorts ($US275 or about $A358), which feature a hand-painted print of bold brushstrokes. Not limited just to swim shorts, McGovern also designed an unlined business suit, made from Italian fast-dry cotton so that an executive could conceivably take a dip and head straight to the office.

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