LONDON — Jacket Required, an annual two-day international men’s wear trade show, opened at the Old Truman Brewery here on Thursday.
Launched in 2011, by Mark Batista and Craig Ford, the event showcases men’s apparel, accessories and footwear. The name was derived from Ford’s catchphrase, which he would typically ask his friends before heading out during his clubbing years in Glasgow. Since launching, the event has organically grown from showcasing 30 brands to 200 labels to date. The new labels to join include Danner, Death to Tennis, Fracap and Loake. Other brands that have previously shown are Clarks, Dickies and Edwin.
Outerwear was key for this edition, and highlights include Aero Leather Clothing, a family-run Scottish label founded by Ken and Lydia Calder. A specialist company, the label creates unique pieces made by individual leather-makers based on an American World War II military aesthetic and showcased sheepskin leather coats and motorcycle jackets.
Brands experimented with over-washing fabrics in outerwear as seen in Nemen, an Italian brand founded by Leonardo Fasolo and Fabio Cavina in 2012. The label is known for blending traditional tailoring with garment dyeing techniques by designing their own fabrics from raw materials on hooded parkas and multipocket smock jackets.
Elsewhere, Simon Barker — a photographer who was a part of the Bromley Contingent, a group of diehard Sex Pistols fans — reinterpreted Seventies punk culture with his label Six by Simon Barker. He showed mohair striped sweaters done in hues of navy, baby blue and red; tailored shirting; sweatshirts, and T-shirts emblazoned with graphics and slogans.
The trade show organizers, who have been in the men’s wear industry collectively for nearly 50 years, said they have built some key relationships with brands and agents. “Many collections have been with us from the beginning,” Ford said. “And as people begin with new brands we get the opportunity to speak to them about joining the lineup for Jacket Required. In addition, we have businesses of our own for sales and distribution [Brand Progression and a number of names] — so each season have the opportunity to travel worldwide and speak to new labels about coming to exhibit in London.”
Batista and Ford’s selection process involves looking at the collection, understanding price points, brand adjacencies and stockists. They said if the label is relevant to the stores which visit the show — both U.K. and international — then it’s in the right place. They are driven by visitors, and are on a constant search for mid- to high-level brands.
“We look at every new application individually and discuss as a team,” Ford said. “Just like any successful men’s wear store, we try to take the same approach in putting together an interesting, balanced selection of brands — covering tailoring and outerwear through to denim, sportswear, footwear, accessories and lifestyle products, which will give a point of difference.”
Ford describes the streetwear scene in the British capital as “healthy.” Now there is a massive crossover between fashion, street and art,” he said. “Brand-wise, Maharishi is one of the originators of streetwear. They are very strong right now and in my opinion are a great example of the evolution of that scene. I heard an official rumor that Rolling Stock will be making a return, which will be good for the OG U.K. streetwear aficionados.”
He pointed to brands such as Too Much and Grind London as labels on his radar. “They’re both putting great product out without too much fuss or hype,” he said. “It’s refreshing to see that right now.”
As for the new brands taking part in Jacket Required this season,”Danner is the classic U.S. brand,” Ford said. “Death to Tennis is a new hot contemporary brand by two Geordies in New York. Aero Leather is very new. I’m not sure if they have ever done a trade show before. I’m very pleased to have them exhibiting with us.”
Also on display is a Massimo Osti installation, comprised of items selected from the label’s archive in Bologna. The display featured coats and jackets created for labels including CP Company and Stone Island. “His influence on the U.K. and myself in particular has been enormous,” Ford said. “I tried to intern for him 23 year ago but not speaking Italian made it impossible.”