Click the pics for a closer look on the BS site.
This is an interesting new pattern from Ben Sherman - it’s a micro dot pattern of small apples on a short sleeved summer shirt. I think it’s actually a bit gimmicky, but I guess each to his own taste and they are at least trying something new.
Click the pics for a closer look on the BS site.
2016 was an interesting year for shirts - I came up with the idea of the Edinburgh design for starters, but there were strong entrants from a variety of different quarters, including from check, paisley and polka dot.
1. PG Hornchurch
I don’t think this ultimately was part of the PG Jimi Hendrix collection but it should have been. The dark moody autumnal paisley has a firey, late-sixties feel and now occupies pride of place in my own wardrobe.
2. Edinburgh 001
This was a design I came up and designed myself on iTailor after seeing some pics of Skinheads while on holiday in Scotland. I don’t think this is a widespread style, but the check against the solid colour upper back section gives it the edge over classic gingham. I've done a few more with this theme, but this is still my favourite.
3. Merc multicolour polka dot
This was one I got for my birthday earlier in the year and still top of the menu. Goes well with brightly coloured knits as seen in the pic here. No idea where it came from - never seen anything like it since, but it is a Merc label.
4. El Ganso blue “tartan”
A new entrant for my modshops catalogue and one that doesn’t disappoint. Unique at the time in being a modern take on an Ivy League / Brooke Brothers sixties pattern, rather than keeping to a generic modern design.
5. Ben Sherman Pink
I preferred to think of this as a pastel red when I first got it, but it clearly is just pink. Strong combination with patterned trousers and has that classic Ben Sherman collar roll.
Here's to hoping 2017 presents me with a few more mod masterpieces to add to this collection!
I used to have a shirt in this same pattern bought a very long time ago from The Face. Pleased to see this slightly unusual style has made it into a shop where people feel like it’s worth making properly.
Although it is a shame BS still haven't worked out how to make a suit with three buttons.
Ben Sherman have rather bullishly gone out for the winter with a good set of jackets and coats for the season. All three I’ve picked here are obviously classic styles, but they’ve been “updated”.
My favourite here is the MA1, which is quite unusual to see as a Ben Sherman “own brand” product, especially as they are so readily (and cheaply) available in places like Warrior Clothing. BS have slimmed down the traditional pilot’s jacket so it’s less bulky. It’s also out there in a few colours that you wouldn’t usually find an MA1 in (for instance, a kind of olive green rather than the usual army green). No doubt some will find this as blasphemous as I find BS' lack of three button suits, but I personally quite like it.
Which again opens the discussion - how far can Mod stuff be “updated”?
And here comes the fudge answer - it depends how it’s done!
Mod is about individualism after all, and one man’s genius is another man’s insanity...
Next time you pay a visit to the legendary street in this part of London, this handy map should tell you the shops worth visiting in between all the slightly less appealing stuff. Scroll down for a key, of sorts.
[Bear in mind that this is ongoing, so if anyone desperately wants to add anything for consideration, especially anything I've stupidly left out, leave it in the comments]
From left to right:
This is great. For once, a robust and unapologetic advertisement of Ben Sherman's heritage and optimistic Mod ideals.
I actually felt a real sense of pride watching this, it sounds like a brand who knows where its from and what its strengths are. BS has always been good at shirts and I hope this will be the sign of a continuing determination to serve those who see clothes as something to enjoy and be proud of, rather than just something to throw on at the last minute.
I am now officially on the hunt for a new Harrington jacket.
I’ve been thinking for a while now that my current one has been looking a bit old, a bit dusty and a bit tired. I also have some other reservations about it that need further explanations.
I have two Harringtons, one black and one navy blue. The navy one is the one we’re talking about here. It’s from Warrior and it has been a favourite for a while because it has, instead of the trad red tartan lining, a blue paisley one.
This Harrington, for what it’s worth, can be picked up for about £30 from Warrior’s website. Not bad for a classic jacket with an unusual twist.
But I have noticed something else. I don’t know where the black Harrington was bought but I assume somewhere like Merc and it’s become my new favourite for two reasons. Firstly, despite being much older, it’s actually holding up far better than the navy one. The material is much more easily dusted off from whatever crap you end up getting on it (picture me in Tesco’s bakery section last week and choosing a loaf of some pretentious, organic free range fucking bread. Flour fucking everywhere. I’m sure there’s never been a more manly way of getting dust on your jacket).
Secondly, the structure of the jacket is much more rigid and retains its shape. The navy one has become a bit crumpled by comparison, despite me having owned it for less time.
I don’t think this is coincidental. Consider, if you will, the materials involved:
Navy blue, flimsy - 80% Polyester : 20% Cotton Mix (from Warrior)
Black, robust and starched feel - 40% Polyester : 60% Cotton (from Merc - though admittedly I don’t know exactly where mine was from)
So here I am wondering whether this makes all the difference - more cotton equals a more rigid fabric? I hope someone who knows about this can tell me.
Until then, I am going to keep surveying the streets and the internet for all the navy Harringtons I can find until I feel I have saved enough to decide to buy one.
As you can see, the choice is not an easy one. Any recommendations?
Ben Sherman clearly took my advice on this one - they’ve got a few nice pop arty designs in their online shop now, including these ones below with small ice cream prints on them.
This might sound a bit tacky. But the ice cream prints are small enough that they look like polka dots until you look very closely.
They are also doing a few check styles. For a while it seemed like this kind of pattern had also disappeared from the shelves in quite a few places. The only place recently where I’ve found this kind of multi-check, tartan-esque pattern has been El Ganso.
So I would congratulate Ben Sherman in re-energising that vocation that has been historically theirs: Mod shirts.
Although the prices are creeping up - El Ganso's are around £55. These are all at £60 or over.
Although we’re told don’t judge a book by its cover, those of us of the Mod ilk know that more often than not, what you’re wearing is the face you present to the world, so you might as well make it look good and perhaps a bit distinctive.
Nowhere is this easier to do than in the kind of shirts you wear. There are a billion combinations of colours, patterns and styles that one could look to for a distinctive look, but in this post I wanted to highlight something in particular that I thought was slightly missing its niche from the market at the moment and that is the military-style shirt.
“Style” might be a strong phrase. A shirt with any other pattern can be military style, but I would usually describe it as a shirt that is one colour, with epaulets on the shoulders and two front flap-pockets.
They're pretty rock 'n' roll and also, IMO, a good look for hot weather. Think Michael Caine, or Daniel Craig in Casino Royale.
I always browse the usual clothing sites in my free time (/ time I’m wasting) at work just to see what goodies are bubbling away beneath the surface. This is usually quite rewarding, because I tend to just drift through the sites from page to page, clicking on links that I might not normally pay any attention to, just to see what’s there. On Thursday, for instance, I was excited to see Adaptor had a few very bold polka dot numbers from Relco. Likewise they have a bit of paisley. Then I went to DNA Groove and Art Gallery just to have a browse and there are some serious checks and stripes going on in those places. At the moment, my favourite is the Noddy from Art Gallery, great colours, strong pattern. Then to Ben Sherman of course, where they can always be relied on to produce a powerful no-nonsense Oxford that always goes well with a jumper or suit.
But of a “military style” there is nothing to be seen.
It doesn’t have as strong a popular tradition as some of the other styles, but it was a thing. They were prominently worn by the Who some of the early pictures (especially Keith Moon), as well as by the Creation on the cover of their How Does it Feel to Feel record. If anyone’s got any other band examples, I’ll be happy to post.them here.
In the 2000s, DNA Groove had a good series of smart shirts with their classic collars, but with epaulets on the shoulders and a distinctive button style. They also had contrasting colours. All the ones I’ve got are ones I’ve designed myself on iTailor.
But I guess the only conclusion can be that this type of shirt just doesn’t sell as well as I think it should!
As you dear readers may have noticed, I have recently been very interested in looking at our various Mod shops’ offerings for the new Spring / Summer season in 2016 (SS16).
In a way this is quite a weird thing for me to be doing, since I suspect most Mods, like me, don’t give a flying f**k about “new seasons” or “trends”, never have and never will. You see something you like and you buy it, simple as. Don’t need anyone telling you what to wear it with or any of that nonsense. I’m sure I can’t be alone in saying most of the stuff I buy comes from an eclectic mix of small, specialised and boutique shops, the more Mod corners of some high-street brands (such as Next), as well as a portion from the usual suspects Merc, Ben Sherman, Pretty Green and basically anywhere I can get my hands on some good clobber. It doesn’t really matter who made it, as long as it looks good.
The usual reason given for this is that the Mod “community” is not large enough to support a big brand on its own. Ben Sherman and Merc, and other similar big brands are hamstrung by their own size and end up offering watered-down, mainstream clothes as a way of generating enough revenue to support themselves, and tend to relegate their Mod offerings more and more to niche areas of their flagship stores where they know dedicated people will visit. One of my own pet peeves is the Ben Sherman suit collection which I’m pretty sure doesn’t offer a single three-buttoned jacket, despite that style being an obvious Mod preference, against current mainstream trends (as Mod ought to be aware of) and part of their own heritage. And yet they stock so many beautiful designs in their shirt bar, which is one of my favourite things ever. It just makes no sense to me.
However, Pretty Green seems to be an exception to this. Although they started out with sky-high prices for their clothes, their egos seem to have settled now and they consistently manage to offer a strong, inspired collection of often quite daring stuff for a decent price. While they join in with high-street fashion brands in releasing “new seasons”, their clothing never gets lost in the mainstream. Take their SS16 line that I have been raving about. “Journey of Paisley” and “London Mod” are unashamedly rock ‘n’ roll. I might not like everything they have on offer, but more often than not, they grab a niche clothing area by the balls and make it into a big and bullish statement.
How have they managed this confident swagger while Ben Sherman and Merc, both well-established brands, seem to tip-toe along in the no-man’s land between Mod and mainstream? Is Liam Gallagher really this much of a genius? Or is Pretty Green deep in the red from losses and being subsidised by his music fortune?
Any answers, tell me what you think.
These are all the goodies I snapped up last Tuesday. Read 'em and weep.
1. Pastel-red Oxford shirt (Ben Sherman)
Big fan - taken ages to get hold of one of these (mainly because they sold out online and I couldn't be bothered to go to a shop) but finally it is within my grasp. A nice variation on the plain-coloured, deliberately unjazzy shirts I have in my wardrobe (currently including white, sky blue and mustard yellow) to enable slightly more jazzy jackets, ties or trousers.
2. Cartwright parka (Pretty Green)
While I was slightly irked by missing out on the Lansdown (which, a day later, annoyingly appeared online for £129), the Cartwright is now one of my new favourites from this set. I haven’t had a parka for a while and the double-button cross-fastening is a stylish new addition. Also, fun fact: the family name on my mum’s side also happens to be “Cartwright”, further boosting the coat’s prospects.
3. Desert boots (Lambretta)
An absolute steal at half-price from Lambretta. Previously avoided the place, but now I admit my mistake; if you go to Carnaby, Lambretta is well worth the visit for unusual shirt styles, discount desert boots and other apparel. Is this the sign of a Mod revival?
4. Grey jeans (Levis)
I have a lot of blue jeans. Obviously that’s the usual colour so unsurprising, but I felt as a Mod, you have to look a bit different. Also, when it comes to casual outfits for black polos or shirts, I only have black jeans. So it’s good to have variation without looking like a goth by dressing all in black. Dark grey is a good foil to this.
Carnaby Street - I will be back.
Took a tour of the Carnaby on Tuesday with me mam (birthday soon y’know) and came across a few items of interest to say the least.
Ben Sherman and Pretty Green made an appearance obviously, but two main things impressed me about the street, considering I haven’t visited properly for quite a while;
The Lambretta store, which until Tuesday I had assumed was just a target-painted box full of crap that you couldn’t give away, frankly surprised me. Not only did I get a pair of dark blue desert boots with white stitching for the very reasonable (discounted) price of £30, but they also had a huge array of unusual button-down shirts and other very mod items that I thought they had strayed too far to remember. Certainly when I go back, I shall be revisiting this one.
2. El Ganso
Literally “The Goose” in Spanish but that hardly matters. Although I was of course mesmerised by the shirt bar in BS and tried on a few of SS16’s new jackets and parkas in Pretty Green (eventually walking off with a navy blue Cartwright parka), it is El Ganso which I want to focus on next time. I didn’t buy anything on Tuesday, being too cautious for my own good, but the place is a fascinating example of Ivy League heritage with a Spanish twist.
For suede shoes, it’s the place to go, with a whole wall dedicated to a vast collection of styles and colour combos. Prices were about £75 and there are plenty more subtle lace colours for the more conservative among the mod scene.
They also had a dazzling set of tartan and other classic 1960s style shirts (button-down of course).
Common among the stuff on offer here was a preference for strong, bold colours that I find refreshing. I don’t know what others think, but modern brands definitely seem to shy away from bright colours in favour of pastel shades and I don’t know why they do this. There is a demand for a bold colour palette in men’s clothes, especially in summer.
Anyway, when I go back to Carnaby Street in a couple of weeks, these are the places I definitely want to examine in more detail and I suspect I won’t be disappointed.
1. Pretty sound navy jumper from the new PG season.
2. One of the stronger numbers from PG’s new season.
3. Always wanted a pair of these. I also know a discount shoe shop near where I work. Anything off that hefty £185 price tag has got to be welcome.
4. Variation on a red, white and blue watch strap I already have.
5. I know we’re moving towards the warmer months but you’ve got to keep stocked up.
6. This one is definitely a wish - PG are moving on from their last season and this lot are sold out… Will they ever be seen again?
7. Again, one of the stronger numbers from PG’s new season.
8. I’m going to keep putting it on my list until I've got one…
Top picks for the Spring / Summer 2016 season so far.
Yes I know Pretty Green are dominating but they have got a fair amount of good stuff...
Other sites you should check out:
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