Phoebe English launched menswear three seasons ago, under the name Phoebe English Man. Said quickly, and brow-furrowing non-fashion folk will ask “Phoebe Englishman?”. Then you slowly break down the three components and they understand. After that initial confusion, being introduced to her work isn’t perplexing in the slightest. In fact, the idea to launch menswear came naturally. “We aim to translate the ethos of the Phoebe English womenswear label through mens clothing. Contrasting more accessible and relaxed garments executed entirely from natural fibres.” Men like Phoebe English womenswear, and there’s a gap in the market for sustainable men’s fashion. Strike while the iron is hot, ey?
Phoebe English doesn’t strike though, she makes subtle gestures that are both poetic and relaxed. It’s been proven that men are more accustomed to the word ‘style’ than ‘fashion’ and the unimposing nature of these designs cater to that audience that are searching for great clothing, without buying into the ‘fashion world.’ Accessibility is pivotal for targeting this market, and with a few skilful swishes, she’s managed to do it sans effort.
“Functionality over decoration,” is the underlying principle of this collection. Long shirt dresses, akin to tunics, soft cotton joggers, minimal coats, bomber jackets. Foregoing structural copouts, English subverted shapes—which aligns itself perfectly with the focus on form—such as interesting, oddly placed folds, oversized hoods, panel shapes. The same goes for the tops. One white shirt-dress featured a fascinating cross-body fastening, bound together with white rope. Large pockets contribute to the utilitarian nature of the garment, but they also conjure images of a painter, equipped with paint-licked brushes in his smock.
Imagery is an interesting facet to English’s collections. At the presentation, the models engaged in some sewing. Relaxed, mostly seated, an air of ease was permeated. Tranquility is a rare commodity nowadays, but this collection was hope that it may still exist. It also made the clothes look like homemade fixtures of the models’ sewing prowess.
With menswear collections, I rarely look at them and say “I want that.” Looking at Phoebe English Man instigates different reactions. The dark green top, the dark powder blue jacket, the black joggers, a white hooded-smock top. Not only are they functional and compatible with each other, they are timeless. Who wouldn’t want to own a piece of Phoebe English?
Images courtesy of Purple PR