In The New Age Of Loungewear, Style (Rather Than Comfort) Is King

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In The New Age Of Loungewear, Style (Rather Than Comfort) Is King

Words by Mr Chris Elvidge | Photography by Messrs Max Townsend, Junior Choi, Ted Le Sueur, Ben Allen and friends | Styling by Ms Otter Hatchett

21 May 2020

Mr Ben Allen, photographed in his home in southeast London by his friend, Stefan

Under normal circumstances, we don’t give a great deal of thought to the clothes we wear at home. We much prefer to spend our time (and money) improving the parts of our wardrobe that people are likely to see. It’s hardly surprising, then, that loungewear has a reputation for being scruffy, dishevelled and somewhat lacking in the style department. Gentlemen: it doesn’t have to be this way. If the last few months of being stuck indoors have taught us anything, it’s that we can still have fun getting dressed up – even when we’ve got nowhere to go.

In MR PORTER’s latest photo story, which was shot by the models themselves on disposable point-and-click cameras, we explore the untapped potential of the domestic wardrobe.

An old Devonshire farmhouse is hardly the place you’d expect to find a pink velour tracksuit from TOM FORD, that chicest and most metropolitan of labels; the famously well-groomed designer surely never intended his creation to be worn while mowing the lawn. Nevertheless, it feels oddly at home in this rural setting, where model Mr Max Townsend is spending a laid-back isolation with his parents, his girlfriend and the family’s two pugs. “I love photography,” says Mr Townsend, reflecting on his newfound experience as a fashion photographer. “But I’m not great at it.” We beg to differ.

When he’s not modelling, Mr Townsend works as a product manager for Bombinate, an online emporium of fashion and homeware brands for men. (Sounds familiar.) Along with regular exercise and tending to the flowerbeds of his family home, this role has been keeping him busy during isolation. Perhaps it was a Monday morning Zoom conference call that inspired this easy, work-appropriate outfit? Providing the foundations are a baby cashmere sweater and linen drawstring trousers – laid-back Italian luxury courtesy of Loro Piana and Brunello Cucinelli, respectively – while an unstructured virgin-wool blazer from Mr P. offers a subtly formal top note. It’s a look that says, “I’m ready for business. But also, gardening.”

Much as we may approve of the results, we must stress to you – and, more importantly, to his agent – that MR PORTER did not instruct Mr Junior Choi to stand on the edge of his balcony and risk life and limb in order to capture this photograph. (Remember, folks: the whole point of quarantine is to stay safe.) We do, however, offer our full-throated support to his streetwear-meets-loungewear outfit, which stars a shell gilet from Carhartt’s WIP line worn over a soft pink cotton-terry sweater from Stone Island. That’s one we suggest you do try at home.

An aspiring musician, Mr Choi has been spending quarantine in a London mansion block with his producer, YAK, and another artist named Jamie. Such conditions lend themselves naturally to making music, something they have been doing every day, according to Mr Choi. But how else have these friends been spending their time? “Call Of Duty,” he says. Whatever keeps you off that balcony, Mr Choi.

We felt fairly confident in lending Mr Ted Le Sueur a disposable camera; he is, after all, a visual artist specialising in film. Stuck indoors with his girlfriend, a journalist for Refinery29, he has been spending his time on a short film that is due to be shown at an exhibition in Deptford, southeast London once this has all blown over. He is seen here in his apartment wearing an outfit from Nicholas Daley, a young Scottish-Jamaican designer with connections to London’s vibrant jazz scene. (Speaking of vibrant and jazzy things, have you seen these trousers?)

How have creatives adapted to life under lockdown? “Like most people I found it difficult at first, as usually I spend much of my time in the art studio or doing various freelancing jobs,” says Mr Le Sueur. “But after a period of time, I began enjoying the daily routine.” He has certainly mastered the uniform of the WFH classes: it’s less about formality and more about comfort, as illustrated perfectly by this half-zip ribbed cardigan from Mr P. and jersey sweatpants from Canadian athleticwear brand Reigning Champ.

In these photographs taken in southeast London, Mr Ben Allen wears an outfit from Jacquemus and LOEWE, two designers who channel better than most that carefree, bohemian spirit we associate with high summer. The first, Jacquemus, is very much the product of the upbringing in sun-drenched Provence of its founder, Mr Simon Porte Jacquemus, while the latter, LOEWE, drew inspiration from Balearic island life in its recent collaboration with Paula’s, a boutique in Ibiza. It all translates surprisingly well to a leafy garden in southeast London. 

While many of us will have found ourselves slipping into listlessness during isolation, Mr Allen – seen here wearing an opulent get-up from Gucci and AMIRI – has established an admirable routine. He plays tennis for one hour a day on the courts behind his home; has been partaking in acting classes via Zoom; cooking, painting, gardening and making plans to redo his house. He has even started an online course with Yale University. “I figured I have to try and come out of this situation a little wiser, seeing as I’ll certainly be a little older,” he says. (This set of photographs was taken by Mr Allen’s friend, Stefan, who is visible in the opening image of this story.)

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