The Future Classics
Ever wondered what the next Stan Smiths are? Or Burberry trench? We highlight the new wardrobe staples that are here to stay
Style can be a fickle business. One minute, skinny jeans are in and the next, you’re buying drop-crotch sweatpants. However, every so often something comes along with the perfect mix of practicality and style that seems immune from trend or time.
Take the Burberry trench coat. Originally developed for WWI soldiers, it has stuck around for more than a century and now helps us to battle the weather on our commute to work instead. And how about the Schott Perfecto leather jacket? This icon was first seen on Mr Marlon Brando (a different type of icon) in 1953’s The Wild One and, a few minor design tweaks later, it’s still alive and well today – and looks just as cool as ever.
These are just two examples of immortal items of clothing, ingrained into our collective mindset after decades of public and pop-culture exposure. But what are the menswear icons of tomorrow? What has been produced recently that might become a classic like, say, the Bass Weejuns penny loafer or the Rolex Submariner?
Soothsayers we are not, but below is a list of six items we think have some serious staying power. We cannot promise they’ll be relevant in 50 years’ time, but whatever happens, you can be sure they’re well worth investing in.
If you consider classic sneakers such as adidas Stan Smiths or Converse Jack Purcells, the main reason for their success is simplicity. About a decade ago, Common Projects designers Messrs Peter Poopat and Flavio Girolami decided to take this idea to the nth degree. They stripped back the sneaker to its purest form with the aim of creating the perfect pair. Sleek, minimal, and made with high-quality materials, they may well have achieved their goal with the Achilles model. If you don’t have any in your wardrobe – buy a pair. Or two. And look after them. They may stop making these cult classics one day, but rest assured, you won’t stop wearing them.
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Back in 2001, New York Designer Mr Thom Browne decided to play around with the proportions of the suit. Predictably, many baulked at the idea of a shrunken jacket matched with super-short trousers. Five years later, however, he was the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Best Menswear Designer, and, in 2008 GQ anointed him the most influential menswear designer in the US. Today, 15 years after he opened his first shop in TriBeCa, he is continuing to influence the silhouette of the modern suit. Sure, not everyone wants their suit trousers to skim the top of their socks. But, like the deconstructed tailoring pioneered by Mr Giorgio Armani in the 1970s, Mr Thom Browne’s legacy will live on.
Or try these
If you’re a fan of classic design, you may like to recline in an Eames chair every evening, or be woken up by a Braun alarm clock. Although not quite on the same level as a Mr Dieter Rams creation, this Uniform Wares watch is almost like a celebration of his work and exhibits many of his design philosophies. It is “as little design as possible” and “innovative”, for example. The M42’s pared-back stainless steel case houses a 23-jewel uber-accurate mechanism, and its all-black aesthetic will go with anything in your wardrobe. Brand founders Messrs Oliver Fowles and Patrick Bek were inspired by mid-20th-century design, and yet their minimalist pieces manage to feel modern. Time-less, indeed. (Sorry.)
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THE VARSITY JACKET
Let us introduce the varsity bomber Mark II. The “letter jacket” began life in the late 1800s, introduced by the Harvard baseball team, and adopted by college students across the US to represent academic or sporting achievement. Like most stylish sport or college-inspired clothes, it has since been appropriated by fashion designers. Mr Hedi Slimane, who is known for reinventing wardrobe staples, has made a monochrome version this season – without the traditional numbers and letters. Not only does this stay true to the original idea of a varsity jacket (students were supposed to remove the letters upon graduation), it also updates the colour scheme to a more contemporary, yet timeless, black and white. So, both modern and retro (the wool Mr Slimane uses feels just like the originals), we see this incarnation as the new cool kid in class.
Or try these
THE SPORTS SHOES
Longevity often goes hand in hand with reinvention. Now a cult sneaker, Nike Flyknits began life in 2012 with the Racer design. Weighing in at just 160g – with a woven synthetic upper and lightweight, spongy soles – it was immediately adopted by Olympic athletes. More than 10 design iterations (and a kaleidoscope of colour tweaks) later, Flyknits are all over the high street in various forms, consolidating streetwear or dressing down smarter looks. Given their appeal in both the sport and fashion worlds, we don’t see this chameleon of the sneaker world fading out any time soon. And we imagine it being a must-have for footwear collectors far into the future.
Or try these
THE DENIM JACKET
OK, we’re cheating a little bit here. As we all know, the denim jacket is a classic. It’s been around since the early 20th century when, inspired by the jeans and overalls of miners, it was worn by cowboys in the US. Since then, it has been adopted by punks, bikers and hip-hop stars alike. However, the Japanese have a canny knack for improving age-old American favourites (see whisky and hamburgers). Cult brand Visvim, founded in 2000, has done just that with the denim jacket, by using hand-spun indigo selvedge denim, and making the fit that little bit slimmer. If there was ever any chance the denim jacket was starting to seem a little fusty, this update ensures an icon will live on for another century yet.