Not since the late 90s, when it was compulsory to wear smart trousers and shoes to get into your local nightclub or bar, has the shirt been seen as a fashion item. While it has soldiered on over the past two decades in its traditional white collar role as a 4 for £100 offer at various Jermyn Street type outfitters, the shirt is priming itself for a comeback.
Harvey Nichols is reporting a massive spike in sales of shirts with growth in the double digits in its menswear department and new companies are springing up, offering a contemporary take on this historical garment of dress.
Danielle Grantham, Buyer, Harvey Nichols says, “Whilst traditional shirting styles drive interest, we’ve noticed that customers are looking for a point of difference and originality to add to their wardrobe staples so we’ve seen an uplift across the entire Harvey Nichols network on those pieces with subtle elevations; soft handle flannel, bolder colours and designs, grandad collar and a resurgence for short sleeves.”
There’s an entire generation who have never known the shirt as a fashion item brought up on a diet of tees and sweatshirts. “The product offer at Harvey Nichols appeals to both father and son, and with such a broad customer profile across the business we are seeing a more mature casualwear customer and younger contemporary customer shop this category.” says Grantham.
The shirt is diversifying by offering better fits and new materials to broaden its scope and appeal. Hale Clothing is a new menswear brand “created for athletic build men, by athletic build men”. Co-Founder, Frederik Willems, was formerly Head of Design at Pink Shirtmaker where he introduced their ‘Athletic Fit’ shirt, designed to fit comfortably across broad shoulders and a narrow waist. Hale Clothing is taking this concept further.
“I think the versatility of a shirt drives its popularity. It is a bridge between formal and casual dress codes and can work either way. Also men in general like practical dressing and most of the shirts you can wear with a suit and tie and super casual with jeans, etc.” says Willems.
“We have seen a few seasons now that were very streetwear dominated and with the likes of Kim Jones, the design team behind Balenciaga and Vetements starting to mix up streetwear with formal wear. It has filtered down and I believe that has helped shirt sales grow. Also in times of economical uncertainty people tend to dress smart as part of a psychological factor of wanting to portray authority and respect.” he says.
Right - Hale Clothing's shirt design for athletic bodies
“I think shirts can be worn in any way, there are no rules. I see great mixes of pattern with formal and casual wear as well as very crisp and minimal use of shirts in the silhouette or look. There are lot of oversized and short sleeved shirt out there at the moment.
“After the explosion of oversized and sportswear inspired fashion, many brands and designers are going back to slick dressing. Formal menswear is also becoming more elevated and mean with that, that the likes of Givenchy show some great menswear tailoring and fashion during their women’s couture and RTW shows.” says Willems.
Luxury shirt specialist, Thomas Pink, has completed a re-brand to 'Pink Shirtmaker'. The LVMH-owned retailer has refreshed the logo, stores, packaging, labelling, brand imagery to reflect the new direction. The retailer has also introduced women’s shirts to their collections to take advantage in this new demand for shirts.
Revolutionising the speed and ease of getting fitted for a shirt is Formcut. From their City of London showroom, they can design a shirt individually tailored to you in a short 15 minute visit. Combining the world’s finest artisanal materials with cutting edge 3D Body Scan Technology, Formcut is owned by the American Size Stream company, which has over 100 years of combined engineer and software developer experience in 3D body scanning and measurement extraction technology. They are the global leader in accurate, affordable body scanning technology.
During the consultation, you’ll have a full body scan, choose your fit and material and within a matter of weeks a shirt arrives. Formcut uses the best 10 fabric mills in the world, including Grandi Rubinelli and Albini with custom shirts ranging in price from £89 to £140 depending on the fabric choice.
Left - The Formcut body scanner
On the other side of the spectrum is the new going out shirt and silk is the material of choice. This indulgent and louche look taps into that rock star feeling peddled by the likes of Saint Laurent and Celine and celebrities like Harry Styles and Timothée Chalamet.
The Silk Shirt Company is a new British start-up specialising in the finest Italian silk shirts. Ajay Valecha, Managing Director, says, “Shirts have endured the test of time and are suitable both for work and play. Our shirts are made of the finest silk made in Italy and are meant for the emperor in you. Whether you are a neo imperial warlord, master of the universe or just trying to look ridiculously fly at a dope house party, The Silk Shirt Company aims to be the zenith of shirts for you.”
While expensive, the silk shirt offers flexibility to leave it dangerously open and display another big trend in menswear, necklaces and jewellery.
Right - The Silk Shirt Company - Luxury Silk Shirt - £800
While the shirt took a back seat to the T-shirt and sweatshirt over the last few years, it is starting to regain territory. People are willing to pay more for a shirt than a T-shirt because it feels like you’re buying something with more work to it. It also feels more longer lasting, an investment piece, less disposable and more versatile in how you can wear and style it in comparison to other types of tops. The message is clear, put a collar on it.
Read more expert ChicGeek Comments - here
True blue, TheChicGeek uses bold aquas and sky blues to create pops of colour on a clean and fresh base of white. Never one to blend into the background, TheChicGeek stands out amongst the background of brilliant white chalk by mixing the primary shades of blue. How big, how blue, how beautiful!
Get involved #WhiteOut
Credits - Shoes - Blue Sebago Docksides Ariaprene, White Jeans G-Star RAW, Bomber Jacket - Villain, Jean Jacket - GAP, Watch - Nixon, Bum-Bag - UTC100, Bag - UTC00, Shirt - Topman, Blue Neckerchief With Piping - Thomas Pink, Blue Neckerchief - John Lewis, Blue Fragrance - Marc Jacobs ‘Rain’, Fragrance - Miller Harris Étui Noir
Shot by Robin Forster on Olympus PEN
More images below
The final new landmark for TheChicGeek's epic #FutureIcons adventure with the new BMW i3 Mr Porter limited-edition, the American Embassy in Nine Elms near Battersea is the new home of the American consulate when it moves from Mayfair. Looking the picture of diplomacy, TheChicGeek is wearing a classic lounge suit and club tie, the umbrella is a nod to the typical English weather.
DIPLOMACY - Designed by Kieran Timberlake, the new cube shaped embassy is exceptionally environmentally friendly and features a security moat.
Credits - Suit - Hackett, Tie - Thom Browne, Umbrella - Francesco Maglia, Cufflinks - Alice Made This All from MRPORTER.COM, Shoes - Russell & Bromley, Watch - Daniel Wellington, Socks - Pringle of Scotland, Shirt - Thomas Pink, Black Fragrance - Jaguar 'Pace', Frosted Fragrance - Paul Smith 'Sunshine'
Have electric car, will travel. Continuing his series of #FutureIcons in association with BMW i3, TheChicGeek drove East to see the first of London's new Elizabeth Line which opens in 2018. Dressed to travel in style, TheChicGeek is wearing a navy suit from MRPORTER.COM and silk shirt for when he arrives in warmer climes.
TRAVEL - The only visible Elizabeth Line station, at the moment, is at Canary Wharf in London's Docklands. Designed by Lord Foster, the new station has been built in the dock and features tropical roof gardens and a leisure complex above the new Underground line.
Credits - Suit - Hackett, Watch - Uniform Wares Both from MRPORTER.COM, Checked Shirt - Thomas Pink, Shoes - Russell & Bromley, Wallet - Tumi, Passport Holder - Tumi, Suitcase - Tumi, Hair Clay - Mojo Hair
TheChicGeek always ends the year the same way he started it, in style! Going old school for New Year's Eve, TheChicGeek has opted for a classic velvet tuxedo jacket, in plush claret, teamed with black dinner trousers, white shirt and oversized tartan bow-tie.
Happy New Year and see all you ChicGeeks over in 2015!!!!!
Credits - Velvet Jacket - J. Crew at MRPORTER.com, Shirt - Hackett, Bow-Tie - Thomas Pink, Watch - Links of London, Trousers - Hackett, Socks - Pringle @sockshopuk, Shoes - Louis Leeman
Shot by Robin Forster using #Olympus PEN
The only thing predictable about the British weather is its unpredictability. Teaming a warming roll-neck with his double-breasted pinstripe, TheChicGeek is always prepared, whatever the weather. The geek means business and never leaves home without a stylish umbrella to ward off those raindrops and stop his ginger paint from running!
Credits – Suit – Marks & Spencer ‘Best of British’, Roll-neck - GAP, Watch – Maurice Lacroix, Umbrella – London Undercover at MR PORTER.COM, Bowler Hat – Hackett, Shoes –Church’s, Socks – Thomas Pink
Shot by Robin Forster
With thanks to Rocket Gallery
When William Webb Ellis first picked up that ball, and ran with it, little did he know that nearly 200 years later 20 international teams would be competing for a cup named in his honour.
Left - Superdry - World Legends - England £74.99
The Rugby World Cup returns home to England, this autumn, in what will be one of the sporting highlights of the year.
TheChicGeek says "Rugby style, particularly the rugby shirt, never really goes out of style. Whether in team colours or bold stripes, it was a favourite of artist David Hockney and was heavily referenced by John Ray, Creative Director at dunhill, at both his spring and autumn 15 collections."
Right - A little of bit of retro inspiration - David Hockney sporting a striped rugby top
The Rugby World Cup runs from 18th September - 31st October 2015 and here are TheChicGeek's picks of the best rugby inspired menswear available:
Below - dunhill - AW15 catwalk collection - Yellow Soft Cotton Rugby Shirt - £230
Left - Polo Ralph Lauren - Custom-Fit Striped Rugby Shirt - £230
Below - Jack Wills - Striped Rugby Shirt - £49.50
Left - Jack Wills - Rugby Ball - £16.50
Left - Thomas Pink - Rugby Cufflinks - £69
Left - Thomas Pink - Stanford Knit Rugby Jumper - £225
Middle - The Rugby Fragrance - 100ml - £24.99
Below Right - dunhill - AW15 Catwalk Collection - Brown Cotton/Cashmere Rugby Polo - £625