You have to admire the pea coat. The enduring classic with dual purpose. Standard issue of the US Navy since about 1881, the 32oz wool, extra tall collar, broad lapels and double-breasted fastening, are ideal for fending off the bitter chill in a howling gale at sea. The fact they also happen to look extremely good, especially on a moody winter photoshoot, is a very happy coincidence we think.
To create a similar look we suggest the Fidelity version seen here. Suppliers of the pea coat to the US Navy, it’s as original as you’re going to find. Everything from the stand up collar to the anchor buttons and lining are exactly as they were back in the 1900s, and still cut stitched and pressed under one factory roof in Boston, MA to this very day.
Samantha Sung and The Jacksons are like old friends to us, but this season we suddenly realised they were meant to be together, so.....
Audrey, meet Lexi, a classic knee-high with a crepe sole. Your perfect match for smart, daytime wear.
Lexi, meet Audrey. You'll soon be devoted to her perfect tailoring and wearability, day and night.
Sabrina and Laudine meet Tatty. In no way tatty and in fact, one ever so elgegant stiletto, and most definitely your equal when it comes to party going.
Tatty, meet Sabrina and Laudine, both supremely smart like yourself, but eminently more comfortable in their beautiful print stretch cotton.
You're all going to get along famously.
Peter Jensen has us totally captivated. Each collection, while quite different from the last, always carries a distinct quirkiness inspired by his chosen muse for the season, typically some wonderfully wayward famous or infamous female who captures his imagination. In the past it's been Sissy Spacek, identity-teasing New York artist Cindy Sherman and disgraced Olympic ice-skater Tonya Harding.
This time it was Thelma Speirs, the idiosyncratic DJ and milliner who has done work for Jean Paul Gaultier, Madonna and Karl Lagerfeld, among others. The result is a steer towards sixties 'lady' dressing - structured knee-length dresses with lurex, cropped plaid jackets and print blouses. And for a more dressed down look, an oversized knit branding a fox's head. It has us thinking we can totally channel some Thelma.
If ever a collection was to prompt the drawing of breath and the dropping of jaws in womenswear, it would surely be this one. Queene & Belle for AW12 is quite simply exquisite. The signature stars are out in force again, falling over gorgeous cashmere cardigans and woven into beautiful cotton shirting. The impossibly pretty lace dress returns with subtle refinements and we're especially loving the new command of colour; a palette perfectly placed somewhere between subtle and bold and best exemplified in one utterly stunning wrap.
The subject is Edwin so pay attention now because it means talking denim and it can get technical. All ounces and rinses. But if you're a denim man then this is your territory and Edwin are your jeans. To start with (and very important if you're a denim man), they've got great heritage. We love how Mr Tsunemi was responsible for taking American style denim production to Japan in the 60s and pioneering 'old wash' and stone wash techniques in the 70s and 80s.
Second (and this is where it does get technical), they turn out a superb pair of jeans. This autumn, the classic straight leg ED47 returns in a red listed 14oz dry denim as well as a new primo rinse wash. It's also our first season carrying the tapered ED55, again in red listed14oz primo wash denim. Sorry if we lost you there. We'll finish on a more straightforward note, but with equal enthusiasm, saying Edwin also do great knitwear. The cable knit made from recycled yarns is well worthy of some attention too.
Just as we're finding our way back into our winter uniform (jeans, boots and jumpers), James go and deliver a mighty handy second instalment. Twiggy looking sleek in black and a smoke velvetine. And Hunter as flattering as can be in a black needle cord. Everyday A/W dressing made easy.
Like many of the menswear brands we most admire, Reigning Champ keep it simple and do one thing really, really well. In their case, it's perfecting classic jerseywear. Their sweatshirts and sweatpants are crafted from 25oz heavyweight Canadian fleece and handfinished by a small team of inhouse sewers with flatlock seams and their signature zigzag stitching. Rob's rarely been without his grey marl classic sweat of late but the final seal of approval for us has to be the fact that another of our much admired brands - Engineered Garments - always turn to Reigning Champ to make their sweatshirts. Got to be good.
YMC has come of age with their AW offerings. The aesthetic is altogether smarter, yet we're pleased to see we've not lost the label's bold takes on shape, colour and texture. It's the geography teacher and the librarian, not out of place taking a walk down Shoreditch High Street, warding off winter in colour and in style.
The girls are wearing silk pussy bow blouses, beautifully fitted wool dresses, cropped knits and a peter pan collar coat, all in a lovely, unwintry primary palette. Following on are the guys wearing heavy textures and rich hues; weighty cashmere blend knits, beautiful tactile shirting, thick cord chinos and smart wool trousers.
Woolrich is a company made of steadfast stuff. In the 19th Century they saw the confederates through the Civil War with blankets and uniforms. And they're still going strong today with straightforward designs and uncompromising quality. They make clothes you'll come to depend upon.
With the label's first outing in womenswear, Victoria and Lucy were won over by their original blanket-style pieces. A series of heavy duty knits and boiled wool jackets centre around one supremely gorgeous cape. The lovely toggles, buttons and collars smarten up appearences on a crispy autumn walk.
Meanwhile Rob's second season is the most perfetly complete collection you'll find in the basement. The starting point is the parka, the piece for which Woolrich have become most well known. Tokihito Yoshida's re-engineered arctic parka and grey wool field jacket set a high standard, which continues with classic wool blazers, cashmere blend roll necks and subtly checked brushed cotton shirts.
Maybe, just maybe, we'd become a little bit blasé about Bloch. Our love affair with the perfect ballet pump has been a long one, after all. But all of a sudden the lust is back. In amongst our staple classics, there's a new suede number with a fake fur lining, taking comfort to a whole new level. And then there's a heel, possibly the prettiest and most comfortable heel we've sunk our feet into for a long time.