New-Season Investments

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New-Season Investments

Words by Mr Dan Rookwood

31 August 2016

The MR PORTER team plan ahead for AW16 with standout pieces fit for any weather.

Be prepared.” That has been the motto of Scouts around the world since 1908 when the movement’s founder Lord Robert Baden-Powell published his seminal handbook Scouting For Boys (probably not the title he or his publishers would choose in 2016, but anyway) shortly after running his first camp. “Be prepared” has also been the unofficial motto of MR PORTER’s scouts (both male and female) since we were founded way back in 2011. This dream team scours the catwalks and showrooms of the world’s best designers to handpick what we not-so-humbly believe to be the most carefully edited and expertly curated collection of menswear available.

Some of us (probably most of us) shop according to the current climate (meteorological, if not financial). The weather is hot outside: we buy shorts and T-shirts. The weather turns cold: we buy a coat and winter boots. But the canny shopper considers their new-season wardrobe in advance, knowing that key pieces always sell out quickly. That’s the rationale behind buying a signature souvenir jacket as soon as it arrives on site, or squirreling away that shearling winter overcoat you remember seeing at the shows despite the fact it’s currently sweltering outside.

As the observant among you will already have noticed, in the last couple of weeks MR PORTER has restocked for AW16. So now is the time to plan ahead. To give you some pointers, we asked some of our scouts what they’ve got their eye on so you, too, can be prepared.

My girlfriend would say I don’t need another coat. Ever. She would definitely say I don’t need to buy a shearling coat that bears more than a passing resemblance to one I already own, in August – but I did. Sometimes things in life aren’t a question of need and more a case of want. As soon as I tried this on in the showroom, I imagined myself resembling a 1970s film star hanging out with Ms Farrah Fawcett. The reality that I probably looked more like a cross between Del Boy from the BBC sitcom Only Fools And Horses and a 1980s football manager (minus the moustache) did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm. Now I’ve got it, hidden under my desk, I’m thinking I’ll pluck up the courage to take it home soon, hopefully by the time it gets cold at least. I plan on wearing it with slim black jeans and a Saint Laurent cashmere rollneck. Flat cap optional.

We noticed two distinct shoe trends at the AW shows in January, and they were at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of sartorial bravery. The first, more adventurous trend was best epitomised by Gucci’s brilliantly bonkers shearling-lined slippers, a flamboyant take on the brand’s signature horsebit loafer. The second was a trend – if you can even call it that – towards a sturdier, more serious style of shoe: the sort that makes a man feel well-grounded on terra firma. Is it obvious, looking at the Dainite-soled Derby shoes from Tricker’s that I’ve chosen to highlight, which one I prefer?

My number one tip when a new season is upon us is simple: always buy those standout show pieces you’ve coveted before anything else. The wardrobe fillers can be bought as and when, but those truly unique garments that set your social feed on fire six months ago when the collections were being paraded in Paris and Milan, will be long gone by the time you’ve fully checked out of your summer bubble. With that in mind, the first investment buy on my list will be this appliquéd distressed sweater by Raf Simons. Playing with proportions was a big trend this season, with Vetements, Balenciaga and Marni all following suit. I’ll ground the look and make it more wearable with these Saint Laurent washed-out jeans and these chunky Tricker’s brogue boots.

A musician friend of mine has a phrase he uses to describe fellow musicians who start taking too many drugs, lose their way a bit, and, with an inflated ego, begin dressing like someone who thinks they wrote Exile On Main St and hang out with Mr Jimi Hendrix. “He’s playing the sitar,” he’ll say – in reference to the inadvisable musical experimentation bands often indulge in when they reach a certain level of success and inebriation. Given its flamboyant feel, this rollneck is very “he’s playing the sitar”. Although I don’t intend on taking lots of drugs or taking up Indian instruments this coming season, I quite fancy dressing like I might be.

At school, you had to be bad to wear a bomber. That and carry a record bag and wear “illegal” Caterpillar boots. I had the bag and the boots, but I never went near a nylon jacket with its garish tangerine lining for fear of losing my place in the rowing team (these jackets were the dress code of the kind of boys who sneaked out at lunchtime to smoke properly illegal things). So now’s my chance. I’m not in any competitive teams, and my squash partner’s not likely to ditch me if I show up in this military-inspired Acne Studios jacket in the leafiest shade of green. As it’s elongated with a contemporary edge, I’ll wear it with a smart Ami cashmere rollneck and some Stan Smiths until the rains begin.

Having recently relocated to from London to New York, I’m nervous about the impending winter (ironic given that it’s sweltering outside right now). London is wet and miserable in autumn, but you always know what you’re getting: a kind of sludgy, at best 12-ish degrees centigrade. New York has snow, and storms, and genuine weather obstacles. As such I’ve been thinking quite a lot about a refined boot option which has enough of a design angle to look modern and stylish, but is practical enough to deal with harsh weather. These John Lobb Derby boots struck me like a ray of light, and I can’t stop thinking about them. I’ll be wearing them with a slim-fit, (perfectly) cropped black pair of trousers from Dries Van Noten, and a cashmere sweater from The Elder Statesman. Yep, I wear a lot of black.

I’ll be honest, there was a time when I didn’t really get Thom Browne. I thought the shrunken school-boy look was a bit Mr Angus Young meets Jimmy Krankie (Google ’em, millennials). But these days I can’t get enough of it. My workout sweats, my cardholder, my go-to button-down shirts, my brogues – all bear his tell-tale stripes. And now my eye is drawn to this beige mac. I already have a beige mac, of course – it being a classic staple in any man’s wardrobe – but now that I have seen this one, so beautifully cut, with the signature stripe grosgrain at the cuff and at the back of the collar, I suddenly realise I’m in dire need of an upgrade. But I know this one will last me for years, so it’ll be worth the investment, right? Good. Glad we had this talk, Internal Monologue. I’ll continue the colour story with these rich brown leather Common Projects sneakers and tortoiseshell Lemtosh frames from MOSCOT.

Shop the new season here

Illustrations by Mr Joe McKendry