Richard James doesn’t exactly fit into what one would imagine to be the typical Savile Row mould. The first of the New Establishment tailors stirring things up on the traditional London tailoring strip, for almost twenty years now the house has become known for going against the status quo.
The SS16 season is no different. Toby Lamb, Design and Brand Director, cites the collection’s inspiration as “a fabulous, far-off folly called Las Pozas”. Created by the quintessentially English poet and surrealist Edward James during the twentieth century, the sprawling sculpture gardens in the tropical rainforest of Mexico’s Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range seem an unlikely starting point. That is, until you see the collection unfold.
Colourful and playful prints preside – jungle flower camo, hallucinatory spots, vivid parrots, a concrete stairway to heaven – but the element Lamb is most excited about is the tailoring. “We’ve given a real depth of texture by using stunning tropical weight wool blends,” he explains. “Both the tailoring and casual wear is beautifully light and we couldn’t have achieved that without wool, its natural breathability and general comfort.”
A nose for innovation and an eye for a statement may be what’s won Richard James dapper fans like Mark Ronson and Elton John, but ultimately England’s rich heritage of tailoring is never far from mind. “Of course. The technique and craftsmanship was and remains second to none. And English mills produce unbeatably good cloth,” says Lamb.
“We started out with a simple philosophy that remains to this day: to produce classic, refined clothing of unsurpassable quality and push the barriers through design, colour and cut.” Job done.