The default rock'n'roll silhouette of the Topman look – which has its roots in rocker culture of the 60s – has been replaced at London's menswear fashion showcase by a hybrid of the 70s and the 90s. Doing away with the skinny jean, models wore Jarvis Cocker-esque tight flares in denim, cord and pinstriped wool. Some wore wigs designed to look like 70s shaggy cuts with chunky glasses and others had trainers that looked like the classic Adidas Gazelles favoured by Brit Pop heroes such as Verve's Richard Ashcroft. Pastel colours, tight T-shirts and even woollen tank tops featured.
Sunday was the first day of London Collections: Men– with Topman Design's midday show the highlight. Woodstock, parkas and Brit Pop all formed part of this collection. Designed for spring/summer 2015, this survey of festival fashion could be worn right now. With Glastonbury mere weeks away, it looked timely.
If towelling short suits in bright daisy prints were perhaps a retro step too far for the average 2014 twentysomething, the overall feel was zesty and fun, a palate cleanser from the more sober mood of some menswear in recent seasons.
An Instagram-worthy film of nature playing in the background, and soundtrack that included Blur's Girls and Boys, Tame Impala's Elephant and Derrick May's Strings of Life all suited the fashion in a field mood.
After the show, Topman's creative director, Gordon Richardson, said there "was Brit Pop at one end and Woodstock at another" on the moodboard while designing the collection. Twin muses of Liam Gallagher and Jimi Hendrix added up to louche tailoring, flower prints and urban staples like a swagger-tastic Gallagher parka. Richardson's own adolescence was also in the frame. "I had these purple embossed paisley cords," he said. "I wore a lot of this kind of stuff when I was younger."
The demand for a flared lurex suit in pistachio green might be small but a high street brand sending this look out speaks volumes about where London menswear is going. With the menswear shows in the capital now on their sixth season, such trifles have their place even in the mainstream world of an Arcadia-owned brand. With menswear worth £26m to the UK economy and expected to grow by a third in the next five years, a bit of experimentation is perhaps warranted.
There was more of it later in the afternoon – as the current generation of young designers presented their collections. MAN, the new talent showcase run by Lulu Kennedy and Topman, featured newcomers Liam Hodges and Nicomede Talavera along with Bobby Abley, who has previously shown with the initiative. Hodges' Boy Scout-influenced collection was particularly intriguing, with versions of the badges collected by scouts dotted over simple sweatshirt shapes that grown-ups would want to wear.
Christopher Shannon, who was announced as winner of the first BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund last week – and the recipient of £150,000, plus business mentoring – was another highlight. The collections continue on Monday with JW Anderson, Alexander McQueen and Moschino on the schedule.