Jacket Required: The Coolest Tradeshow In The World

Forget endless stalls and pamphlets at the Excel centre. The Jacket Required tradeshow was a rail-perusing, shoe-dribbling, label-loving weekend with bells on...
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I was recently lucky enough to be invited down to a stiflingly humid London, in order to attend a new fashion tradeshow by the name of Jacket Required. As far as menswear shows go – the capital has been fairly inadequate for quite some time, bar the recently formed Stitch. With established shows taking place the world over in Florence, Berlin, Paris and New York – the twice-annual tradeshow season is one sizeable chunk of the fashion industries calendar. Primarily - these events are for buyers to go, have a natter with the brands, and pick out the pieces they wish to purchase for the coming season (as well being a great excuse for a post show piss up.)  However, the shows also allow the press in and with blogging now in a viral state, images of collections appear on the Internet quicker than you mutter the words Ar-Ar-Armani. Thus allowing fashion addicts the world over access to these images long before being published in any big style mag.

Jacket Required was formed by the trio of Mark Batista, Craig Ford and Andrew Parfitt, three men firmly established within London menswear - by showcasing several exclusive brands, the idea was to tempt buyers to London, knowing they wouldn’t see these labels elsewhere, as well as putting the city back on the tradeshow map alongside Paris, New York et al.

The show was reasonably small - yet still a task to digest with 5 rooms in total – 4 small rooms all interconnected by a long hall. After quickly drawing out a plan of attack in my mind, I hit the stalls. The general vibe was achingly cool and very insider led – choc full of London’s fashion elite chewing the fat and browsing samples. With the tunes blaring from the speakers and conversations in full flow, I breezed around the venue from brand to brand, taking in all on show.

Among the list of exhibitors were Veras, a brand that I was already familiar with after reviewing a pair of their hybrid espadrilles for Sabotage Times. Stuck right in the entrance of the first room, their colourful range of summer footwear was the first thing to meet my eye. It was great to meet the team behind the shoes, unlike many brands that had sent reps or agents; the Veras team were all in attendance. The most attractive thing about this brand is that they offer something different – mesh uppers twinned with espadrille midsoles might remind you of something your granddad used to wear whilst sunning himself in Benidorm, but for those who appreciate something a bit different from the norm– Veras will appeal.

A stroll into the next room revealed Universal Works – a brand that appeals to me not only in a sartorial sense, but also because they are from my home town of Nottingham, and it’s refreshing to see a brand withstanding the temptation to move to London these days. Among the racks I found more of what I’ve come to love from the brand: Simple, understated classics such as great lightweight parkas with an abundance of pockets, smart unstructured jackets, super thick, chunky socks and quality shirting – all extremely wearable, great stuff.

In the far corner room was Garbstore, a brand that speaks to my need for countless jackets in all variable styles and colours. Their mountain parka is one such item that I await with intense anticipation each season. Needless to say it didn’t disappoint – the sample featured in a striking green, full of subtle little details - It’s one to add to the ever-growing list of jackets I will undoubtedly want, albeit not need. It’s these added little details such as wooden toggles or embossed tri hole buttons combined with the intricately thought out garment tags that keep me coming back to the brand season after season.

Other notable mentions go to Sanders shoemakers, one of the few brands still plying their trade in Britain, Northampton to be exact - their colourful selection of elegant bucks, brogues and desert boots mounted on red brick and crepe soles stuck out like a sore thumb among the majority of street style footwear brands but still attracted the attention of the sharper dressers. Household name Carhartt were also in attendance with much of the focus on their newer heritage line, featuring some great work wear styled jackets and trousers alongside some neat little duck camouflage sketchbooks.

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