Launched by Craig Ford and Mark Batista, Jacket Required’s strength is in its curation (including a tasteful lack glitz) as well as its knack of finding the right locations. While Brick Lane may not be the hippest street in London (I suspect that's still Redchurch Street), with numerous menswear stores surrounding it — for example Number Six, Son Of A Stag, Folk, YMC, Grenson and Justin Deakin — it's already established a reputation as a menswear Mecca. Holding Jacket Required within the Old Truman Brewery complex also meant that a fair number of store owners but also designers of every kind could simply pop in as the show first opened its doors on Tuesday morning last week with no more than a slight detour on their way to work. Further, Batista has a store (Number Six) in the same block as the show, Ford’s offices, where he runs his own distribution company called A Number Of Names, are a ten minutes walk away in Shoreditch, above another menswear Mecca Present London, and a stone’s throw from Box Park. As Ford put it, one of the reasons for the show’s increasing popularity is its comprehensive offering, catering to “a broad range of premium brands from all aspects of menswear – sportswear, tailoring, streetwear, fashion, casualwear footwear and accessories”.
Within this environment, amongst the most interesting brands at least, the term 'trends' is something of a dirty word, or perhaps more accurately an anathema. If they are ‘on trend’ it's a kind of happy (and in some cases not so happy) accident, or it’s simply that they share with other brands a similar aesthetic and set of cultural reference points. Take Duffer Of St George Japan (with graphics designed by founder Marco Cairns), TSPTR and Human Made — for me three of the stronger brands at the show. Each taps into a kind of outsider’s take on mid-century America, liberally melding the counter culture, the pop culture and the youth culture of the time in a way that is loaded with post-modern self awareness. Russell Gator, explains of his brand TSPTR, “it's an acronym for Truth, Symmetry, Pleasure, Taste, Recognition — the five principles of modernist design. The brand is built around this ethos that garments should be functional and aesthetically pleasing while expressing a narrative based on clothing or events from the past. Informed athletic wear”.
It's a graphic language that, while taping into the past, works only because it is refined for a contemporary, informed audience. As Gater explains of the forthcoming Spring Summer 2015 collection: “The collection explores the 'rock n roll' war from various angles through 60s-era graphics and silhouettes.”