They aren't cheap, but if you think they're expensive, you obviously haven't heard of John Smedley.
As per their tradition, Art Gallery Clothing are pushing out some delights for those more connoisseur of you this season. It's still a bit chilly out so be sure to stock up. I have to say, this is probably the widest range of colours in roll-necks I have ever seen from a Mod shop.
They aren't cheap, but if you think they're expensive, you obviously haven't heard of John Smedley.
I've posted a bit about John Smedley before but I think it's about time for another visit: John Smedleys after all do have a hallowed, almost legendary name in the Mod scene and adjoining Ivy League spectrum.
They are a brand as distinguished in reputation as they are in history. As their lavish marketing will tell you, their wool may come from New Zealand Merino (always a good news) and their cotton may come from North America, but their manufacturing takes place right here in England’s Green and Pleasant Land.
In Derbyshire to be precise. Since 1784. A time that is the very cutting edge of Britain’s industrial revolution and the birthplace of the modern world.
But don’t let that lull you into thinking these guys are crusty. John Smedley keeps ahead of the pack even now, debuting at London fashion week in June 2017.
Technically John Smedley make a whole load of different things, but the most coveted are their long-sleeved tops (known as the Finchley) made from Sea Island Cotton with a silky-smooth finish and an elegant simplicity unmatched by other knits on the market.
For a fashion nerd such as myself, I find it fascinating that they knit the cuffs and collars separately and ceremoniously add them on at a later date. As if bringing back together the separate sections of a beautiful piece of engineering before revealing the final, working aircraft.
Be warned however, that your English heritage quality doesn’t come cheap. You can expect to pay over a hundred for your finest Finchley.
This is just a post to point out to anyone who's interested in Breton tops that John Smedley do an extraordinarily beautiful one in Sea Island cotton. I would say it’s a kind of aqua blue - it's not light enough for a mid blue but it's not quite turquoise either.
Unfortunately unlike the jump the gun version it’s not a full on jumper and doesn't have those buttons on the shoulder which I quite like the idea of (even if I’ve not yet had the chance to wear one) but it’s a great-looking alternative.
As anybody who knows anything will tell you, John Smedley is the oldest manufacturing company in pretty much the world and they’ve been going since about the start of the industrial revolution. It's premium piece I know - it's available on the website, but I got mine via Atom retro. It’s listed there for about £95.
I had credit however (I sent a suit back and they’d run out, so couldn’t exchange) so I got this baby for the bargain basement price of about £8.
The JS site itself is sending them out at the now-cut price of £75 – but they’ve run out of smalls, so I suspect they’re getting towards the end of the run on this one.
Just a quick post today - Pretty Green have a selection of dazzling new shirts out, presumably to celebrate the new releases of rKid’s new songs.
These are beaut - looking to be of a heavy knit style similar to a Gabicci or something from Brick Lane’s Mendoza (which if you haven’t visited, do. It’s great for this kind of loud, rude-boy style knit) and also like something you’d see Steve Marriott wearing on the front of some 60s magazine.
So if you fancy something a bit fresher than a Fred Perry, click on through.
With spring catching in the air, Style Council fans will know it’s just about time to go out and buy a new French nautical-style top. Even if you don’t have a private yacht to show off on (blazers, white trousers and caps optional).
As one would expect from a glorious, vibrant community culture, there are a vast array of different places to get your Breton for this season. And indeed, a vast array of Bretons to choose from! Whether you want long-sleeved or short-sleeved, jumper or t-shirt or indeed, a dazzling rainbow of different styles and colours, we’ve got all the samples you need to whet your appetite right here.
1. JTG’s pink and navy (£95)
Starting with a bang from the guys down in Brighton. Great colours, traditional heavy look and I especially like the buttons on the shoulder and long sleeves. It is however the most expensive of today's set.
2. JTG’s grey and navy (£95)
Slightly subtler version of the pink number and probably more my style. Again, good attention to detail on the shoulder buttons and long sleeves.
3. Pellicano’s short sleever (£37)
Pellicano’s take on the classic Breton with short sleeves. Pellicano are known to be quite pricey, but they’ve done well here and this isn’t much more expensive than a polo.
4. Pellicano’s long sleever (£46)
Again, a take on the traditional Breton, now with long sleeves. For those collectors out there, they also stock a second variant where the dark stripe dominates.
5. Levis (via Atom Retro) red and white (£49)
Probably the lightest of the bunch here - effectively a t-shirt from Levis with red stripes - a more mainstream take on the Breton.
6. Cookley Luke 1977 (via Atom Retro) navy and white (£56)
A distinctive twist on the original, the Cookley Bretons have piping of a particular colour around the neck (in this case, blue), brightening up the traditional striped pattern. I think they also do a red version.
Ok so it nearly is. Time marches on, so perhaps this post is a bit late. But temperatures are still a bit frosty and the days still quite short, so I think it’s justified.
If the worst comes to the worst, you can read it as a “looking forward to next Christmas” piece. If you can stomach that in early Feb. By this time, most people’s livers have recovered, if not their wallets.
Regardless, I’ve been browsing Atom Retro’s knit collection and there are some decent items out there. The selection I’ve got here is a good cross-section of what’s available at the moment, ranging from the understated and smart to the outlandish but colourful.
1. Bampton John Smedley V-Neck
A classic, slim-fit jumper of the famous Smedley ilk. These things are usually well-made (in England), but quite expensive. Goes strongly with a patterned shirt underneath.
2. Regatta Breton
The type of jumper I call a half-Breton because not all of it is striped. Again a John Smedley made top, but one that goes best alone or over plain t-shirts to avoid pattern clashes.
3. Tathwell Polo
This is a fabulous Merc creation, though I’m not sure from when or where - there is no sign of anything like this on their regular site. It’s here through the pure creativity of its design, putting Fred Perry polos in the shade.
4. Miguel Turtleneck
The wildcard of the pack. The colours would be outrageous on an average jumper, but this one is a turtleneck, adding an extra edge of retro. I’m not sure if I’d wear it but I’m sure some nutcase would.
1. A Parka
Get yourself a decent parka. They’re great - waterproof, warm and undeniably Mod. If you can, try to get one that’s a bit different - I am practically allergic to the army green ones nowadays, even if they do have The Who written across the back. My choice is navy blue for the moment. Fur hood is optional but as I almost never put the hood up anyway, probably just for show.
2. Rollneck jumpers
Or polonecks. Or turtlenecks. Preferably relatively slimline in multiple colours, without any excessive bulky knit, to complete the look. Art Gallery used to do some great ones, with retro stripes down one side but you might have to look a bit ruther afield this year. Not only are they French-esque chic, but they’re practical and they’ll stop the cold from making you too cool for school.
3. Autumn shades in shirts
I am smitten with Pretty Green’s brown and red paisleys at the moment. I don’t have one yet, but to my mind, if we’re doing seasons (which, let’s be honest, Mods aren’t known for), we may as well do them properly and there is a lot to choose from. If you can get a shirt (or a polo shirt) in anything reminiscent of those glorious autumn leaf colours, you’ve nailed it.
The very real danger for designers is that when they put anything beyond a simple geometric pattern (i.e. stripes basically) on a jumper, it starts to look a bit festive. Especially on a chunky knit jumper.
As a general rule, unless the stripes or pattern are in a very specific place (e.g. down one side, around the collar, etc), it becomes almost unwearable in normal company. Obviously there’s a time and place for Christmas jumpers if you’re going to wear them, and if you were going to wear these ones here, you’d definitely be on the “cooler” end of that particular spectrum. I have no specific problem with that (other than why Christmas jumpers are a thing in the first place).
The question is, would I wear one of these outside of a Christmas jumper-type situation?
Don’t get me wrong I can see what PG have tried to do here - they’ve tried to jazz up a navy blue roll neck with a little bit of pattern. I get that navy blue roll necks are ten a penny - I think I have two myself, so I can understand the desire to make it a bit more interesting and unique. In normal situations, PG have a good record at blending the high street cool with the unusual for their Mod audiences.
But I just can’t get past the Christmas jumper vibe here. The shapes in the pattern just seem to be reminiscent of snowflakes to me. And unless I end up wearing a Christmas jumper to some work event (unlikely), I just can’t see myself wearing it.
Art Gallery clothing have gone all in (6m) for Autumn.
Art Gallery always come across to me as a small, boutique shop, mostly internet-based with some outlets in unexpected places. Their range is limited but practically unique, favouring wild and unusual new shirt patterns over generic classics. That said, they also stock some old favourites like a sky blue now and then.
I’ve no idea whether they really are some small quaint little shop or an offshoot of a multinational brand, but it is true that they usually only bring out three or four new shirt styles every six months or so, and they don’t waste their time churning crap. A lot of effort seems to go into balancing every design just on the line between seriously retro and actually quite modern. Not only this, but their stuff is also relatively well-priced, with a shirt going usually for just under the high street price of £55 (including delivery). They’re also quite strong on their knitwear, which is quite reminiscent of something the Small Faces would wear on an off day. And that can only be a good thing.
Anyway, here are a few favourites from the new set, so go and have a look and see what you think..
Apparently not soon enough for Pretty Green.
This is their new "Lowry" roll-neck sweater in recent arrivals and it couldn’t have been launched at a worse time. I don’t know what it’s like anywhere else, but the mercury topped 27 degrees C yesterday here in London.
Having said this, it does look pretty neat - I like what they’ve done with the sleeve cuffs and it’s only natural that a big brand prepares in advance for the next season. I hope they come in more colours too, but in a few weeks maybe. Unfortunately at the moment just looking at a picture of this one is making me sweat.
Art Gallery Clothing, which I know many of you dear readers recommend (apparently they do 3-finger button down collars, which I must say is quite unusual at the moment), have released, nay unleashed, their second half of their Spring / Summer line.
As usual, heavy on the knitwear and the casual tops (and nothing wrong with that), but they’ve also put out a couple of extra shirts to sweeten the deal. And it’s not like they just dash this shit off the presses in their spare time - as with the Noddy (my current favourite), the patterns are bold and unusual.
Another strong showing from a strong brand and, as you dear readers can see, prices are decent! I might get myself a navy Zack just to see what all this new knitwear fuss is about.
As trailed, these are my fave bits from Art Gallery Clothing’s new season. They only got put up recently and it’s actually pretty hard to tell which ones are the new ones.
Not that this matters.
The whole range is pretty solid. I know Art Gallery Clothing for its bold, almost Pop Arty takes on traditional Mod wares and these new additions do not disappoint in that respect.
I love a cycling top in summer. They feel very Style Council somehow and these come in a good range of strong colours including royal blue and sky blue. Setting them apart from Fred Perry’s ones they also have a stylish French flag stripe down the left side.
Another strong take on a cycling top - this one with long sleeves. I suspect this might actually be an autumn option considering the price and the style, but I liked it so much I left it in this list. Still one to take a look at.
Classic Art Gallery here: bullish Pop Art colour scheme on a trad short-sleeved button-collar shirt. What more could you want for in the summertime?
A close brother to the Noddy, this one again is bold check, in a kind of old Ivy League style.
The one criticism I do have is that the new cycling tops are quite pricey. But then it's a pretty sick design so I'll probably fork out at some point...
Art Gallery are also a prime outlet for that eminence of Mod traditional footwear, The Bass Weejun loafer. I feel this is telling when one tries to decide which direction their inspiration comes from!
Last week I wrote a piece questioning why Merc’s SS16 seems to have made such a small impact and yesterday I reckoned Pretty Green was doing the best in terms of creativity.
It occurs to me that I may have been slightly too harsh on Merc and after a quick glance at their site, it turns out there are quite a few items which I quite like the look of in their new set. In this spirit, I’ve set a few of my favourites out below.
However, I would still say that Merc seem to have become obsessed with their own burgundy colour scheme. It seems to be everywhere. I like the idea of brand recognition and I like a bit of the burgundies every now and again when the blues are on holiday, but it seems a bit weird that the colour is so prevalent in their gear. Merc, if you’re listening - some oranges and yellows wouldn’t go amiss sometime.
1. Dalton trench coat
I really like the look of this - sharp navy coat with all the trimmings, including epaulets on the shoulders and a cheeky bit of tartan thread on the lapel.
2. Bellman shirt
Classic Merc gingham here - burgundy included, but nothing wrong with that. Nice little detail on the chest pocket, setting it just slightly apart from your average gingham.
3. Welor Geo paisley
“Paisley lite” on this one. Unusual polka style design but with floral swirls instead of dots. Blue buttons look good on the white and blue general theme (+ burgundy)
4. Paulus top
Choosing to pipe the collar and button strip with extra trim here is quite an old-skool design, one that designers should try more often. Makes for two cool variations on the Fred perry -esque polo.
5. Jobling top
Unusual for a polo to have vertical stripes. Again, good to see something new and fresh here, burgundy in tow.
6. Siegel polka dot
I’m always a sucker for polka dots and this is no exception. I suppose these are more pin-point dots, which is a great variation on a classic. Again, burgundy an option.
Other sites you should check out:
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