L.A.’s Style Confidential

Los Angeles
Photo by Freeimages.com/Brian Nunnery

by Stephen Doig, The Daily Telegraph, February 26, 2016

The West Coast has oft been a style backwater, but a host of labels are making a case for L.A’s relaxed cool

Alongside the formal tuxedos and perfectly polished shoes making their way up the Oscar red carpet this weekend as Hollywood’s leading men showcase their matinee idol elan, it’s worth looking beyond those glinting Bulgari cufflinks and slick Giorgio Armani suits.  Away from the whir of the flashbulbs, the city itself is quietly rising as a men’s fashion influencer. Men’s style has long  taken a cue from Hollywood’s iconic heroes, from Cary Grant to Brad Pitt, but a happy two way conversation has struck up with European brands looking to the City of Angels for inspiration, and the latter beginning to play host to a range of cult brands.

When Hedi Slimane of Saint Laurent announced his decision to stay situated in the city rather than relocate to Paris upon his appointment at the archly French house, it indicated just how integral the L.A life would be to his era-defining clothing, with collections that rift on its music and skater subcultures and look to West Hollywood’s vintage store finds as a starting point, pepping his embroidery with palm fronts and beach fronts and his ad campaigns with surf boards. The result is love-worn vintage repackaged as Parisian high luxury, while at Gucci there’s more than a hint of California dreaming to Alessandro Michele’s soft-focus, 70s tinged men’s clothing. And it seems that Britain’s biggest retailers are also experiencing something of an L.A love story thanks to the emergence of cult men’s fashion brands that marry a low key sport’s aesthetic with precise attention to detail.

“We’ve felt for a while now that Los Angeles has been emerging as the new alternative scene – away from Beverly Hills there’s a real sense of counterculture”, says Matches Fashion ’s head of menswear Damien Paul. “Plus the designers we find there are more removed from the mainstream, so they feel less expected than many of the brands we see. There are rarer finds”, he says, citing new brand Longjourney which is set to be stocked at the store, while at Browns boutique the Venice Beach-based milliner Nick Fouquet makes his debut this spring.

Mr Porter has been a long time stockists of cashmere brand The Elder Statesman, founded in 2007 by Greg Chait and designed to evoke the easy, surfer attitude of the West Coast (although the price points on some of the chunky knitwear are anything but). Similarly, Simon Miller’s namesake denim brand fuses a West Coast, rugged sensibility with Japanese techniques and at cool brand Stampd, designer Christ Stamp infuses New York Fashion Week with his pared back, sporty pieces that look suitably effortless as the paps snap you outside that juice bar in Calabasas in your Article No. trainers (another LA brand that recently landed on UK soil). Away from the glamour of the red carpet, there’s a host of labels grounded in contemporary reality dressing for the modern Santa Monica man.

This article was written by Stephen Doig from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.