BFAs 2009: Honouring the Heritage Brand.

November 28, 2009
From Dame Viv’s punk-infused garb to the many sartorial artisans of Savile Row, from invariably on-trend high-street retailer Topman to classic brogue purveyors Church’s, the Britons have always more than held their own in the style stakes and the British Fashion Awards serves to remind us of the fact.
A nominee shortlist is just one of those things. It knows no other purpose than to frustrate. This year’s menswear shortlist includes: Graeme Fidler for Aquascutum, Kim Jones for Dunhill and Todd Lynn. While it’s not beyond comprehension why these three were chosen, I still wouldn’t have considered it a particularly commendable selection. That was, of course, until I actually reminded myself of the reinvention that’s been associated with two of those nominated.
I had always considered Aquascutum no more than one of those traditional, aesthetically conservative (read: boring) and generally musty British heritage brands that had just gone to seed in the twenty-first century. But, a quick scan through the sleek website has proven me very wrong. Graeme Fidler helms design and ever since his move from Ralph Lauren back to Britain the University of Northumbria-grad hasn’t halted the rejuvenation. With Aquascutum Ltd. Fidler brings a lean, sharp, Slimane-esque silhouette to the fore with tailored suits and outerwear (inc. a serious-want-inducing bomber) while with Aquascutum London he foregrounds just what’s made the brand famous in the first place (a simple black trench, a deep blue mac) while simultaneously heralding the return of the camel coat.
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^ Aquascutum Ltd. AW09
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^ Aquascutum London Aw09
Yes, Kim Jones has worked some small wonders at Dunhill but that brand’s always seemed to advocate function at the price of form. Even the websites seem to underline the difference, with Dunhill photographing their – rather limited – stock purely for the purpose of online retail (commercial, aesthetically safe staples photographed against a spare, light-grey background) and Aquascutum setting itself apart by centring a host of pretty pictures to pore over. I mean, let’s face it, you’d rather buy a trench off Vincent Lacrocq’s back any day.
Then again, it does do the “Heritage” section quite well. However, Aquascutum seems to trump its effort, offering a timeline, a clarification of ethos and previous ad campaigns to peruse. This isn’t intended as some kind of confrontational “fash-off” battle of the brands but – who would you find fit to crown?
Note: Do consider the genuine brilliance of the below before making your decision…
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Images from Anatomika and Fashion Copious