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BEST OF
BRITISH:

THE LOWDOWN

Luxurious fabrics, immaculate finishing and home-grown style make our latest Best of British collection a cut above. Menswear editor Ian Wright talks to M&S menswear design lead Alan Cook to discover what makes the new range so special

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A STYLISH SIXTIES SLANT

“The sharp tailoring and the Modernist approach to print and textiles developed in the Sixties are still so relevant and current today.”

Shop the Best of British collection

 

 

There are some things we do better in Britain than anywhere else in the world. Pubs. Queueing. Backing the plucky underdog. Complaining about the weather. And the design and manufacturing of luxury menswear.

From the Industrial Revolution’s Spinning Jenny to Northampton’s reputation as the centre of the footwear universe, via Harris Tweed and Savile Row, what our humble island lacks in size it more than makes up for in manufacturing excellence, as M&S menswear design lead Alan Cook explains.

“British-made has always been synonymous with great quality and craftsmanship,” says Alan. “We have a long history of great artisans who are at the top of their game, and our Best of British range celebrates this.

“Every cloth has to be the best of the best. We look for great quality and impeccable craftsmanship in everything we do.” Alan’s scoured the length and breadth of Britain to find a who’s who of the nation’s long-


established manufacturers and mills to collaborate with.

From jackets made by outerwear specialist Cooper & Stollbrand to fine shirts and ties from Rayner & Sturges, centuries of knowledge go into every piece in the collection. But despite such rich manufacturing history, Alan looked to a more recent era for this season’s inspiration.

“We were really interested in British subcultures,” explains Alan, “and we particularly loved the look of the mods. Their pin-sharp tailoring influenced the collection’s silhouette.” This focus on the slim-line Sixties aesthetic gives the range a sleek look, but Alan also wanted it to have broad appeal.

“The cut was something we worked on relentlessly. We wanted to offer a slim silhouette but without going so skinny that a regular guy couldn’t wear it. The fit flatters and makes the wearer look and feel great.” The result is a collection that will stand the test of time.

DISCOVER THE DETAILS

“We love the people we work with, like Cooper & Stollbrand, who develop modern fabrics and use their artistry in a contemporary way.”
“We’ve added on-trend revere collar shirts to the range this season, which nod to the mod look.”
“I was amazed that a company still made trainers in Britain. It’s great to work with Walsh on a luxury sneaker with a manufacturing story.”
“We looked into the M&S archives and found some great 1960s Modernist prints – we used them on the shirts, ties and pocket squares.”
“My standout piece is the cotton-cashmere double-breasted suit – the fabric has a little stretch in it and hangs beautifully. The cashmere makes it so soft.”
“The palette of cool blues, greys and whites gives the range a clean, retro feel.”
See the collection

Interviewer: Ian Wright

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