First things first, what exactly is Lurex? Lurex is a type of yarn or fabric which incorporates a glittering metallic thread. It gives the knit a sort of Christmasy makeover which is on just the right side of glittery.
It’s perfect for this time of year, under artificial lights or candles, and adds an element of reflective fun to a suit or evening wear.
I remember Prada produced a collection with lots of lurex in AW 2011 , below, and showed how it could look fresh and interesting in knitwear and accessories. I ended up buying a knitted tie. Lurex on men shows an element of confidence in the wearer and somebody you instantly gravitate to at a party. Get involved!
Here is a selection of what is available this season:
Far Left - Joseph - Lurex Merinos Polo - £195
Left - Vintage - Prada AW 2011
Left - ASOS - Knitted Metallic T-Shirt - £25
Left - Gucci - Lurex Jacquard Tank Top - £440 from LN-CC
Below - Balenciaga - Men’s Slip-on Lurex - £325
Left - AMI - Men’s Round Neck Pull In Lurex - £235
Left - Topman - Lurex Top - £20
The word of the season is 'oversized'. The bigger the better. It just means getting dressed just got easier: one item covers all, well nearly.
We've been a fan of this AW16 collection since we saw it at Pitti Uomo at the beginning of the year. Handmade in Hackney by knitwear designers Anna Wilkinson and Lindsay McKean, Cats Brothers is known for its quirky crochet and colourful knits. Putting the craft into fashion, their pieces are ingrained with humour and style and feel more art-piece than yet another fashion item with a creature or icon.
Credits - Red Monkey Jumper, Oversized Black & White Jumper, Tiger Bag - Cats Brothers, Tracksuit Bottoms - Lyle & Scott, Velvet Trainers - Russell & Bromley
Shot by Robin Forster on OlympusPEN
More images & video below
When it gets cold we reach for texture: corduroy, cashmere & velvet. These tactile finishes make those freezing days all the more bearable. Savile Row tailor, Richard James, has produced this soft, light grey suit in a thick wale corduroy. The fabric of kings, it looks fresh and contemporary in this light colour and matches the London sky, depressingly!
It's been teamed with a long ombre scarf and cashmere jumper and is the new way to wear winter.
Credits - All Clothes Richard James AW16, Trainers - Russell & Bromley
Shot by Robin Forster on Olympus PEN
More images & video below
Maybe it’s in homage to the latest Oasis documentary, but the roll-with-it thin-knit roll neck is the default easy menswear knitwear trend of the season. (That was quite a mouthful, or in this case, a neck full).
I'm not sure whether Liam or Noel would do a louche jewel-coloured rollneck with contrasting velvet jacket, but I'm sure they'll agree that it looks pretty good. Go for something fine, maybe a Merino wool or cashmere silk mix, if your budget allows for it. Look for golds, reds, pinks or oatmeal and team with a contrasting jacket like in Tom Ford's latest advertising campaign. This is easy, but cool dressing. Trust me, between now and next summer, you'll reach for the reliable rollneck and it'll leave you feeling supersonic!
Left - Tom Ford - Classic Cashmere Turtleneck - $1290
Left - John Smedley - Connell Deep Claret - £145
Below - Hymn - Maximum Roll Neck Burgundy - £50 From John Lewis
Left - Gucci - Cashmere Turtleneck - £485
Left - River Island - Light Brown Ribbed Roll Neck Jumper - £25
Left - Topman Premium - Pink Roll Neck Jumper - £35
It's well established, now, that men can wear pink. Kanye loves a bit of pink on men, but that's enough about him.
It's an easy way of saying that you're openminded, up for trying new things and approachable. Who isn't going to like a man in a pink jumper?
Slightly differing shades, but still on the 'baby' spectrum, we have a super-soft cashmere number from Paul Smith or a great value jumper from Topman. Can't decide? Get both!
Left - Paul Smith - Pink Cashmere Sweater - £315
Below - Topman - Dusty Pink Mini Roll Neck Jumper - £25
In a quiet industrial estate, off a nondescript North London suburban street, sits Albion Knitting Co. Not some relic from the 60s or 70s, that, somehow, managed to survive, but a new venture, with state-of-the-art machines, producing for some of fashion’s biggest names, all proudly made in glamourous Haringey.
Left - Welcome to Albion Knitting Co.
I was invited down by American brand, Peter Millar, to see where some, not all, of their knitwear is made. Producing between 5,000 to 10,000 garments, a year, for Peter Millar, the factory opened in 2014 and also produces knitwear for luxury brands such as Chloe, dunhill and Nicole Farhi.
Right - The feature staircase inside the North London factory
Left - The stairs on the staircase features old pieces of knitting hardware
Knitting, washing and finishing takes place here by the 20 strong workforce. An example of skills and production returning to the UK, from abroad, the whole environment is very open and features a stunning metal staircase with steps incorporating old pieces of knitting hardware.
Right - A final AW16 look from Peter Millar
If you haven’t heard of Peter Millar before, the Richemont-owned men’s brand is busy expanding into the UK. Known for golfwear and currently available at Harrods, they have aspirations to take a chunk of Zegna’s market in that stylish, but won’t scare-the-horses-type of mature menswear. Making in London is certainly a start. If the label says 'Made in England' then the Peter Millar garment would have been proudly made by Albion Knitting Co.
Here to launch their Woolmark Prize winning men’s collection at Harvey Nichols, TheChicGeek grabbed design duo, Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow of American fashion label, Public School, for a couple of minutes to talk Made in the USA, DKNY and state schools
Left - Not your average public schoolboys! Dao-Yi & Maxwell of Public School
Winners of the inaugural International Woolmark Menswear Prize, Public School has been gaining attention over the last few seasons and has been tasked with the makeover of American fashion giant DKNY. The winning Woolmark collection is in their signature black and features machine body-conscious hoodies, sweaters and leggings and is available Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge and Matchesfashion.com.
Where did the name Public School come from? “It’s from the idea of New York being a melting pot. Public School is about not being an intimidating designer name: we wanted to make it something everybody could get into it,” says Maxwell.
Do they realise that public school means something completely different in the UK? I suggested they renamed the label ‘State School’, “We need to change the labels here!” laughs Maxwell.
So, they’ve just taken over at DKNY, will they be doing the menswear and what can we expect?
“No, just women’s. As for men’s, they’re exiting the business. Maybe in a couple of years it will return,” says Dao.
Right - The new Woolmark Prize winning men's knitwear on display at Harvey Nichols London
How would they sum up Public School for those not familiar with the label?
“It’s a men’s and women’s designer collection based out of New York and also the production is done in New York City. It’s around this idea of convergence and mixing,” Dao says.
How do they find production in the USA and doesn’t it make selling in Europe prohibitively expensive?
“Production is difficult in general. But, it’s easier for a company of our size, now, which is small, to keep production in the US,” says Dao.
“We have to get creative. Give a retailer discount if they can buy more to off-set the difference,” says Maxwell.
The Public School Woolmark Collection is available at Harvey Nichols & Matchesfashion.com - Prices - £235 - £740
Designers use the terms 'ombré' and 'degradé' to describe this graduated colour effect, while the high-street just cuts to the chase and opts for 'dip-dye' .
However you want to call it, it looks great in knitwear - as pictured here - and in particular in this grey.
American brand, Vince, is perfect if you're a messy eater, while M&S has the reverse effect, ideal for disguising a bit of belly.
Left - Vince - Wool/Casmere Ombré Pullover - £215 From StyleBop
John Smedley shows us how to care for your knitwear.
Quality comes at a certain price, but does not necessarily need to be preciously treated. With a degree of care and attention all John Smedley (Look at the care instructions on other knitwear brands)garments can be machine washed and will continue to look good and last well for many years to come.Top tips for John Smedley's merino wool knitwear:
1.Remove surface soiling by gentle brushing, this will help the stain later on.
Treat stains immediately with cold water, blot dry with a clean cloth - never paper.
3. Air wool after wearing by laying the garment flat , as this helps to get rid of odours.
4. Always try to store lightweight wool folded and allow breathing space.
5. Clean your garments before storing, the dreaded moths, seemingly love top quality fibres, but they are actually feeding off the body oils and dirt, not the actual fibre. Use natural remedies to combat moth attack- the old ones are the best and smell the best- cloves, lavender, rosemary and thyme, orange peel and cedar, can all help deter the munchers. Never put these in direct contact with the knitwear, tie them in a gauze bag and hang in your cupboard or wardrobe. It is worth noting that as we have ditched our carpets in favour of floor boards, the moths no longer have carpets to attack, so are more inclined towards your clothes.
6. Try to rest your wool garment between wearing, (if you can bear to!), 24 hours allows the natural fibres to spring back and preserve its natural resilience.
7. Turn the garment inside out to protect the outer surface.
8. 30 degrees C is all you need on a reduced cycle. Merino wool has natural self cleaning properties, so you don't have to wash so often and all of this in turn helps the environment.
9. Use a mild, non-biological detergent. Biological enzymes eat away the natural fibres, causing long term damage.
10. Dry flat, or I prefer a good line dry on a windy day, the fibre almost returns to its natural habitat!
11. Gentle, warm iron with steam should just return the shape- though again straight from the washing line no ironing is necessary.
John Smedley's Sea Island Cotton needs less precautions. A beautiful, long fibre staple length, with a luxurious handle can be machine washed.
As we dye all of our colours at the mill in Derbyshire, the colours stay true and fixed. Still wash dark and lights separately, keep the temperatures low and never hang black and dark colours on the washing line in bright sunshine. Natural sunshine is the best natural bleaching agent- so perfect to keep your whites white!
For stain s and soiling, cold soak prior to washing. This loosens the dirt and prevents it fixing permanently with hot water.
A British Insititution, John Smedley has been manufacturing the finest knitwear since 1784. Still proudly Made in England at their factory at Lea Mills in Matlock, Derbyshire, the family owned company today, exports to over 35 countries worldwide.
The body panels and sleeves of the wool and cotton garments are linked together by hand, stitch for stitch, to create the impeccable neat seams which remain one of the hallmarks of real luxury knitwear.
After knitting, the garments are scoured or washed using water from John Smedley's three springs - this is a crucial stage in the manufacturing process giving the garments their characteristic 'soft handle'. Additional processes render the garments shrink resistant and machine washable, a unique feature considering such delicate techniques are applied.