At Coach, creative director Stuart Vevers is bullish. It’s a year since he showed his first men’s collection for the brand, which means he’s seen customer reaction to his first body of work. “People came into the shops and bought it,” he said the day before his Autumn/Winter 16 show at London Collections Men. “They bought the key pieces, the pieces that I love. That’s given me the confidence that fashion works at Coach.”
He’s talking about the shearling jackets and coats that looked so great at Coach’s menswear catwalk debut in London this time last year. They were no-brainier pieces: confident cuts with juicy details that sound simple – big pockets, chunky fastenings – but which trigger subconscious consumer desire. These design skills are a particular talent of Vevers, ones that were missing in his tricksy Spring/Summer 16 collection for Coach. They were back here on this catwalk: oversized zips on biker jackets, almost-too-big buttons on a peacoat, and those commercially friendly generous shearling trims.
Vevers was honest about his intention to make clothes of familiarity. “I’m really comfortable that most of these pieces are actually pieces that you know,” he said. His plays on scale are often first rate, especially with his huge padded coats that remain in reality because of their cropped length, as well as the oversized details that create a balance. But sometimes it felt like a bit too much noise. Cut away the brashness, and there were some sweet quieter pieces, like a cute little fine leather jacket worn over a check cardigan. Cardigans: how often do they trouble the mind? They’ve not had much traction of late, though in the dim and distant past (i.e. the millennium) cardigans were quite the rage. Cliffhanger: could we be witnessing their return? Don’t say fashion’s not thrilling.
Sometimes it’s about the simplest things. Astrid Andersen showed her hoodies and track pants with tailored coats. Andersen is among the London designers who are boringly labelled as streetwear. This tailored coat was to show that her vision is so much broader, and that men themselves are long used to creating a wardrobe mix. “It’s just a way of dressing,” she said backstage, one where there is no boundary between formal, casual, whatever the labels that need to be swept away. Such is the way that Andersen pushes forwards.
There’s a move among some of London’s young designers to just show great clothes. Lou Dalton is among them, particularly with her fine knits produced in collaboration with John Smedley and bled with colour, her lightweight cable knits or plaid zip-ups. Her source material was the Shetland islands, but this was transported to the city, the clothes wearable, the man on the catwalk believable.
For more reports from the shows, go to our fashion weeks page on FT.com